People commonly request the SWIFT code for international payments. Specifically, this code is required by a company’s banking managers when making international bank transfers.

What is a SWIFT/BIC code?

A SWIFT code, also known as a BIC code, is a unique alphanumeric code used to identify a specific financial institution within the worldwide interbank financial telecommunication network.

BICs and SWIFT codes are standardized and globally recognized. They ensure that global transactions are carried out securely and efficiently.

Definition of SWIFT code

BIC/SWIFT Code Format

The SWIFT code has a specific format to uniquely identify different banking institutions. It consists of 8 to 11 alphanumeric characters, divided into four groups, as follows:

  1. Bank Code | 4 letters A-Z
  2. Country code | 2 letters A-Z
  3. Location code | 2 alphanumeric characters 0-9 or A-Z
  4. Branch code | 3 alphanumeric characters (optional) 0-9 or A-Z
Infographic of the SWIFT code format
The SWIFT code identifies the receiving bank of an international transfer to ensure the security of the transaction.

When Do You Need a BIC/SWIFT Code?

You’ll require a BIC/SWIFT code when you’re involved in international transactions or dealing with financial institutions outside your home country. Here are some common scenarios where you might need one:

  • Global Payments. Seamlessly transfer funds between two banks in different countries.
    • Sending Money Internationally: Whether you’re transferring funds to a relative abroad or completing a business deal with an overseas partner, a BIC/SWIFT code is crucial to ensure the money reaches the right destination.
    • Receiving Money Internationally: If you’re expecting payments from international clients or customers, providing your bank’s BIC/SWIFT code is essential for them to initiate the transfer.

Moreover, the SWIFT or BIC code is particularly useful when you need:

  • Connectivity. Identifying counterparties facilitates efficient transfers and ensures that funds reach the right recipient.
  • Compliance. Ensure transfers comply with the financial laws of the countries sending or receiving funds, reducing the risk of fraud and eliminating errors.
Infographic explaining 3 functions of the SWIFT/BIC Code

How to Find a SWIFT Code?

Locating a SWIFT code for your bank is relatively simple. Here are some ways to find the SWIFT code you need:

  • Contact your bank or check its website
  • Look at your account details or bank statements
  • Search it online or use a SWIFT/BIC directory
  • Ask the recipient

Bancoli Tip: Providing customers and suppliers with the BIC code streamlines the payment process. You can include it in your contact information to have it handy.

BIC Code Benefits

Doing international business today can mean making payments to suppliers in other regions and hiring talent from different countries.

This global trend has led to more frequent international transactions, especially through an online banking account. As a result, it is necessary to incorporate security systems into all banking transactions to securely pay business partners and employees.

Using this code for international payments offers many benefits:

  • Accessibility. Smooth communication between global enterprises.
  • Transparency. Detailed information about the exact amount of the transaction.
  • Accuracy and Speed. Potentially reduces the risk of delays or misdirected payments, making sure your funds end up exactly where they should.
  • Security and Accountability. Every bank knows when payments are sent and received.
  • Relevance and Authority. Accepts more than 150 currencies.
Infographic illustrating 8 SWIFT/BIC code benefits


What is a SWIFT code?

The SWIFT code identifies a specific bank or financial institution and is often used for international wire transfers. SWIFT is an acronym for Society for World Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

What is a BIC code?

A Bank Identifier Code (BIC) serves to identify banks worldwide. This code represents a bank branch for international money transfers.

What’s the difference between BIC and SWIFT codes?

SWIFT code and BIC code are terms that are often used interchangeably: they refer to the same essential element in international banking. These codes serve as a unique identifier for financial institutions, ensuring that your money reaches the correct destination securely and swiftly.

What’s the difference between SEPA and SWIFT/BIC codes?

SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) codes are specific to European countries and are used for euro-denominated transactions within the SEPA region. SWIFT/BIC codes, on the other hand, are used globally for various currencies and cross-border transactions.

Are IBAN and SWIFT codes the same thing?

No, IBAN (International Bank Account Number) and SWIFT codes are not the same. While both are used in international banking, IBANs identify individual bank accounts, while SWIFT codes identify the banks themselves.

Are SORT and SWIFT codes the same thing?

No, SORT (Standard Order Routing and Tracking) codes are not the same as SWIFT codes. SORT codes are used for domestic bank transfers within the UK, while SWIFT codes are used for international financial transactions globally.

Do US banks have SWIFT codes?

Yes, most US banks have SWIFT codes, especially if they engage in international transactions or have correspondent relationships with foreign banks.

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What are the advantages of having a Bancoli account when making international payments?

A Bancoli Global Business Account can simplify your cross-border transactions and enhance your overall banking services. A GBA offers enhanced features such as:

  • A multi-currency account with local details for USD, MXN, EUR, GBP, HKD, and SGD.
  • Business-to-business transactions across 200+ countries and over 10 different currencies.
  • Global payments: send and receive money internationally and leverage instant payments between Bancoli accounts.
  • Competitive international exchange rates and transaction fees.
  • Maximum reliability and unrestricted access to funds, no lock-ups.
  • An exclusive 1:1 backing system for Bancoli USD Custody with short-term US government obligations up to US$125 million per account holder.
Bancoli ad explaining that with a Global Business Account you are welcome to the world of borderless business


In conclusion, the SWIFT/BIC code is crucial for an international payment as it uniquely identifies banks, ensuring accurate, secure, and fast transfers.

So, the next time you need to transfer money internationally, remember the importance of the SWIFT/BIC code and consider the advantages of having a Bancoli Global Business Account.

Join Bancoli today.