A BIC code (often referred to as a SWIFT code or BIC SWIFT code) is used to identify a bank for an international bank transfer via the SWIFT system. Every bank is assigned a BIC, which stands for Bank Identifier Code. This enables other banks to locate and identify the account when transferring funds.
Some confusion exists, however, for account holders over the difference between a BIC code and a SWIFT code, as well as where to find them.
Is a BIC code the same as a SWIFT code?
Despite different banks and financial institutions using a variety of terminology for the code, it’s important to know that a BIC code is the same as a SWIFT code. It may even be referred to as a BIC SWIFT code by some banks, which can naturally be confusing for customers. This is made all the more confusing when the country from which you make the payment refers to the code by a different name to the recipient bank abroad.
How many digits are there in a BIC / SWIFT code?
A BIC SWIFT code can consist of between 8 and 11 characters, dependent on the country and bank that account is held in. The same formula typically applies for a BIC code, as shown below.
4 digit bank code – 2 digit country code – 2 digit location code – 3 digit branch code (optional)
The difference in length is related to the fact that some banks will use the 3 digit branch code at the end of the BIC code, while others won’t.
How to find my BIC code
The image above depicts an example of the BIC SWIFT code format, reflecting the exact information that goes into the code as a whole.
In order to send money overseas to a country with the SWIFT system, you will need to know the BIC code of your recipient and provide it at point of payment. If the recipient is unable to provide this to you or does not know their code, then your bank will be able to help you identify the code of the foreign bank.
Is there anything else about BIC SWIFT codes you need to know? Contact our foreign exchange experts today!