SWIFT is an abbreviation for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which is a system that enables messaging and financial transactions between banks and financial Institutions to be automated and standardized.
A SWIFT Bank Identification Code (BIC) is used to identify the financial institution and is essential for rapid international payments and money transfers. BIC is commonly referred to as a SWIFT code or a SWIFT number.
A SWIFT code comprises of 8 to 11 characters which are divided into four categories:
- The Bank Code: 4 characters, letters only, that identify the bank or financial institution.
- Country Code: 2 characters, letters only, defining the ISO country code
- Location Code: 2 characters, numbers and letters, which distinguishes banks within the same country, region, county, town.
- Branch Code: 3 characters, numbers or letters, determining the branch of the bank. This part of the SWIFT code is optional. For example, the headquarters of a bank may have no branch code.