What are SWIFT or BIC codes?
SWIFT stands for “Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication”. It is a member-owned cooperative that is used by the financial world to conduct business operations.
SWIFT codes are most commonly used for international wire transfers and are comprised of 8 or 11 alphanumeric characters.
The swift code is usually required for money transfers between two different banks in different Countries (that are members of the swift network).
For Fund Transfer from foreign country We are not only asked to provide the beneficiary’s bank account number or IBAN account number that we want to send money to, but we must also provide the Swift Code or BIC code of the branch of the beneficiary’s bank.
Swift codes are handled by the SWIFT organization, and in particular from a division called “SWIFT Standards”. These codes were initially referred to as “swift codes” but were later standardized as BIC which stands for “Business Identifier Codes”.
Both terms are used today and mean exactly the same thing: a BIC code is a unique alphanumeric identification code, consisting of combinations of letters and numbers, which is used to uniquely identify an institution’s branch among the members of the swift network.
Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication code An internationally-recognized identification code for banks around the world. The International Organization of Standardization (IOS) was the authoritative body that approved the creation of SWIFT codes.
BIC (Business Identifier Code) is an international standard for routing business transactions and identifying business parties
Understanding the code
A swift code consists of 11 or 8 characters, which is the standard format standardized by ISO (International Organization for Standardization).
For example :
Swift code: MAHBINBBLUD is the swift code for Bank of Maharashtra can be broken down to four parts: MAHB IN BB LUD
- First four characters: MAHB identify the bank BANK OF MAHARASHTRA. This 4-letter code is used to identify this particular financial institution all over the world.
- Fifth and sixth characters: These 2 characters identify the country in which the bank is located. IN in this example means INDIA.
- Seventh and eighth characters: These 2 characters represent a location code (“BB” in this example).
- Last three characters: These 3 characters form the branch code. (“LUD” in this example used for LUDHIYANA Branch). But this particular branch code is optional, and if omitted,
- The 8-character remaining code is assumed to refer to the head office of the institution. (MAHBINBB in our example).
The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) (also known as ISO 9362, SWIFT-BIC, BIC code, SWIFT ID or SWIFT code) is a standard format of Business Identifier Codes approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
It is a unique identification code for both financial and non-financial institutions. These codes are used when transferring money between banks, particularly for international wire transfers, and also for the exchange of other messages between banks.
The codes can sometimes be found on account statements. SWIFT and BIC codes are basically the same.