What is SWIFT Code?

SWIFT Code or also commonly known as SWIFT-BIC, BIC code, SWIFT ID or ISO 9362 is a standard format of Business Identifier Codes. These codes are commonly used for transferring money between banks, especially in the international wire transfers or foreign telegraphic transfer.

The SWIFT code consists of 8 or 11 characters in the following format.


  • The first 4 characters (“AAAA”) specify the bank. Only letters are allowed.
  • The next 2 characters (“BB”) specify the country. It use the format of ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code.
  • The next 2 characters (“CC”) specify the location. Letters and digits are allowed. The passive Participants will have “1” in the second character
  • The last 3 characters (“DDD”) specify the branch. This is an optional. A ‘XXX’ refers to the primary office. Letters and digits are allowed.

When 8-digits code is given, it refers to the primary office.

The codes are divided into Live & Passive Codes. The Live Codes are for institutions who are actively connected to the SWIFT network while Passive Codes are used for manual transactions.

The registrations and management of SWIFT Codes are the responsibility Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (“SWIFT”). SWIFT headquarters is located in La Hulpe, Belgium.

The best way to obtain SWIFT Code is to ask your bank directly. However, for quick look-up you may find the code at www.swift.com. Prior to using it, it is wise to check with your bank to ensure the money went into the intended account.