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What is a SWIFT Code?

What is a SWIFT code for a bank? What does a SWIFT code look like? Is a SWIFT code the same as an IBAN? Find out the answer to these and other SWIFT code questions below:

What is an IBAN and SWIFT Code?

So, what is a bank SWIFT code and IBAN number? While you may hear these terms floating around, their definitions may be a little harder to come by. Here’s the definition of SWIFT vs IBAN:

SWIFT

A SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) code is an eight to eleven-digit code that identifies a bank, as well as the country where it is located. In many cases, SWIFT codes also include branch information.

These codes allow individuals and businesses to perform international transactions more accurately and safely. By creating a system of agreed-upon codes, banks and their patrons alike can be more secure in the knowledge that money is landing up where it should.

IBAN

An IBAN is an International Bank Account Number that identifies your specific account. It’s important to understand that an IBAN is not the same thing as your bank account number. Rather, it is used internationally for payments as a means for overseas banks to distinguish your account from another.

In summary, both SWIFT codes and IBANs are used in international banking – the former to identify your bank branch, and the latter to identify your specific account.

What does a SWIFT Code Look Like?

A SWIFT code is a series of up to eleven numbers and letters. Each part of a SWIFT code has a specific designation as follows:

  • The first four digits refer to the specific bank’s code, and are letters only
  • The next two digits refer to the country’s code, and are letters only
  • The next two digits refer to the bank’s specific location, and can be a combination of letters and numbers
  • The final three digits refer to the branch’s code, and can be a combination of letters and numbers (note: not all SWIFT codes include branch information.)

So, what might that look like in practice. Imagine this is your bank’s SWIFT code: BANKINFO101

Let’s break that down:

  • BAN would tell you what bank it is
  • KI would tell what country that bank is in
  • FO would tell you the bank’s location
  • 101 would tell you what branch it is. (Remember that not every SWIFT code includes this information.)

How do I find my bank's SWIFT code?

There are various ways for you to find your bank’s SWIFT code:

  • Online banking. Many banks display their SWIFT codes on the “Account Details” (or similar) page of your online banking profile.
  • Your bank statement. Your bank’s SWIFT code is likely to be found in the top right-hand corner of your bank statement.
  • Contact your bank. Get in touch with your bank online, in person or via phone and they will be able to provide you with the necessary information.

There are various online resources that list the SWIFT codes for different banks. They may be correct, but you shouldn’t take them at face value. It’s always better to get SWIFT codes directly from your bank.

Do all banks have a SWIFT Code?

The simple answer is: no, they don’t. Many smaller banks don’t have SWIFT codes – but this doesn’t mean that they’re unable to facilitate international transactions. What they do instead is use larger banks as intermediaries. This means smaller institutions are still able to offer international banking services to their customers, even without being part of the SWIFT network.

Did you find our what is a SWIFT code article useful? To find out more about similar topics, check out our other blog posts: