BIC/SWIFT Codes Explained

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BIC/SWIFT Codes Explained

BIC/SWIFT Codes Explained

At times, you may need to transfer funds to a bank account overseas. If you have already been in such a position, you no doubt know about international wire transfer transactions. They help banks in different countries to securely communicate and complete transactions, to make cross-border payments smoother. Thus, they are intermediaries in global commerce. An example of a messaging network used is SWIFT. Notably, to ensure the system is secure, they use SWIFT codes, also known as BIC. However, what exactly are they? When do you need them? Where and how can you get the codes? Please read on to find out more.

What Are BIC/SWIFT Codes?

BIC (Bank Identification Code) is at times referred to as a SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) code. SWIFT assigns banks a BIC as a solution to easy, secure, and standardized cross-border payments. However, what exactly is this code? A SWIFT/BIC code is a code used in international money transfers to identify a bank, branch, and country to which a bank account is registered. It usually applies when sending money to a bank account overseas. Thus, it serves as a digital language used by banks to make overseas payments. The BIC/SWIFT codes are universally recognized by banks. Therefore, whenever a bank makes international transactions, it uses the SWIFT codes. The good thing is that financial institutions in any part of the globe can be a part of the SWIFT network. This way, they can make cross-border payments more efficient to their customers. With the codes, the universal payment process is integrated, fast, convenient, and seamless.

BIC/SWIFT Codes Explained
BIC/SWIFT Codes Explained

These BIC/SWIFT codes help ensure the destination of the money is the correct one. Thus, the codes offer vital information that is needed when making international money transfers. Also, they help the banks send other messages. This is because SWIFT is more like a messaging network that allows electronic messaging and the transfer of information between banks.

How do BIC/SWIFT Codes Work?

Each member has a unique BIC/SWIFT code as a means of identifying various branches of different banks. The system employed here ensures that no code resembles another. Importantly, members using the codes are certified, and the transactions taking place are done by legitimate banks.

Moreover, the codes are formatted differently. Typically, they are made of 8 to 11 numbers and letters as characters. They are arranged as AAAABBCCDDD, which is broken down in the following way;

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  • AAAA; 4-character bank code. This part uses letters only.
  • BB; 2-character country code. It comprises two letters.
  • CC; 2-character location code. An alphanumeric code that tells the specific location.
  • DDD; 3-character branch code. This last code shows a branch of a particular bank. Notably, this last part is not mandatory, especially if the bank has no branches.

The first three parts of the algorithm are the most important. However, banks with more than one branch in a local area must have 11 characters. This is to identify the specific branch of the respondent.

Remember, the SWIFT system has to verify the validity of a message showing that the bank has transferred payment. Also, you must use the right BIC/SWIFT code when sending money so it gets to the right destination. If not, you may incur charges for such invalid payments.

Where Can You Find a BIC/SWIFT Code?

Wondering where and how you can find a BIC/SWIFT code so you can transfer money to a personal or business account? No problem. The following are three main ways through which you can get these codes;

Bank Statements

This is one of the easiest ways of getting a bank’s BIC/SWIFT code. This is because most banks put the code on their paper statements. However, what if your respondent’s bank doesn’t offer paper statements? The respondent can log into their account and view the bank statement online.

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A Bank’s Website

Finding a bank’s BIC/SWIFT code can be as easy as visiting its website. The good thing is, you can search for your bank’s BIC/SWIFT code, or someone else’s. How do you do this? Visit the bank’s website and check if it has a listing of its BIC/SWIFT codes. If not, you can scroll to the FAQ section and check whether it has the code. Alternatively, you can check if there is a section discussing international payments or any other related information. Besides, if the bank’s website has a search feature, type the word SWIFT code or BIC into the search bar and wait for the results.


Just like in most cases, making online search results in answers to several questions. Therefore, if you have the name of a bank, and the country, you can easily find its BIC/Swift code through an online search. This is because there are websites that help you do this.

BIC/SWIFT Codes Explained
Close-up Of Woman Banking Online On Laptop

Remember, as much as all banks have the option of using the SWIFT network, not all have the codes. This is because some do not engage in cross-border transactions. However, banks that affiliate with SWIFT, such as enjoy the convenience of such a secure, streamlined, international money transfer method.

Does it Cost Money to Use SWIFT/BIC Codes?

Any international money transfers cost money. Therefore, it is not surprising that it will cost you when you use SWIFT/BIC codes as well. However, the rates usually vary depending on the destination of the money, the parties involved and the medium you are using to get the money to its destination.

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Also, since you mostly use the codes with banks, having an account with one may have some benefits. For instance, the bank may waive certain fees that they otherwise charge. Nonetheless, if you are transferring money to a bank that needs an intermediary, you will have to incur extra costs.

BIC/SWIFT Codes for International Money Transfers

A BIC/SWIFT code is necessary if you want to send or receive money to or from an overseas bank account. The good thing is that all banks have the option of getting the code. For instance, if you use, you will get the BIC/SWIFT codes and enjoy the convenience, security, and speed of sending or receiving money abroad. Also, you can check for any BIC/SWIFT code for any bank here. How amazing it is to have such codes for efficiency in the present global economy!

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