What is a Bank Swift Code?

Last Updated on January 31, 2023

Bank Swift Code

A Bank Swift Code, also known as a Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) code, is a unique identifier used to facilitate international money transfers. It is an internationally recognized code used by banks to identify each other when executing cross-border transactions. The code is assigned by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) and consists of 8 or 11 characters. The first 8 characters identify the bank and the next 3 characters (when applicable) identify the specific branch of the bank.

In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into the topic of Bank Swift Codes and help answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this critical component of international banking.

What is the Purpose of a Bank Swift Code?

The purpose of the Bank Swift Code is to provide a secure and efficient means of transmitting information and funds between banks globally. This is especially important in international wire transfers, as the funds must be transferred from the sender’s bank to the recipient’s bank and accurately credited to the intended recipient’s account. The Swift Code helps ensure that the funds reach the correct bank and branch, reducing the risk of errors and misdirections.

The Swift Code can also be used for other purposes such as automatic clearing and settlement, foreign exchange transactions, and securities transactions. By using the Swift Code, banks can quickly and accurately identify each other and securely process financial transactions, contributing to the overall efficiency and stability of the global financial system.

Structure of a Bank Swift Code

A Swift Code is made up of 8 or 11 characters and is typically formatted as follows:



  • AAAA is the bank code
  • BB is the country code
  • CC is the location code
  • DDD (optional) is the branch code

The SWIFT code must be accurate to avoid your money going to the wrong place. Before initiating international wire transfers, Modern Treasury assists you in verifying SWIFT codes and the correspondent bank network to employ.

Differences between Bank Swift Code and Other Banking Codes

There are several other codes used in international banking, and it’s important to understand the differences between these codes and Bank Swift Codes.

IBAN (International Bank Account Number)

While many people can’t tell the difference between the SWIFT code and the IBAN, it’s rather straightforward. An IBAN (International Bank Account Number) is a unique identifier used to identify bank accounts in international transactions. It typically includes the country code, bank code, and account number, and is used to simplify cross-border transfers by allowing banks to identify the correct account more easily.

BIC (Bank Identifier Code)

A BIC (Bank Identifier Code) is a unique identifier used to identify financial institutions in international transactions. It’s similar to a Swift Code but is explicitly used for banks.

Routing Numbers

Routing numbers are used to identify banks within a specific country and are used for domestic transactions within that country. They are not used for international transactions and should not be confused with Swift Codes.

Also read: Understanding Credit Scores and How to Improve Them

How to Find Your Bank Swift Code

  1. Online banking: Log in to your online banking account and look for a section labeled “International Payments,” “Wire Transfers,” or “SWIFT/BIC Codes.” This section should have your Bank Swift Code listed.

  2. Bank’s website: Look for a section labeled “International Payments,” “Wire Transfers,” or “SWIFT/BIC Codes” on your bank’s website. Your Bank Swift Code should be listed in this section.

  3. Bank statement: Look for a Bank Swift Code on your bank statement. It may be listed on the front or back of the statement.

  4. Bank’s customer service: Call your bank’s customer service line and ask for your Bank Swift Code. They should be able to provide it to you over the phone.

  5. SWIFT website: You can also search for your Bank Swift Code on the SWIFT website by using your bank’s name and location.

Role of Bank Swift Code in International Payments

When you initiate an international money transfer, the Swift Code is used to route the funds to the correct bank. This helps ensure that your funds arrive at the intended recipient’s account promptly and securely.

Setting up an International Transfer

To set up an international transfer, you will typically need the following information:

  • The recipient’s name and address
  • The recipient’s bank name and Swift Code
  • The recipient’s IBAN (if applicable)
  • The amount you want to transfer
  • The currency you want to transfer
  • Any additional instructions for the recipient’s bank (e.g. purpose of the transfer)

How the Bank Swift Code Works in International Payments

  1. The sender provides the necessary information: The sender provides the recipient’s bank name, Bank Swift Code, and the recipient account number to their bank.

  2. Sender’s bank verifies the information: The sender’s bank verifies that the recipient’s bank and Bank Swift Code are accurate and that the recipient’s account number is correct.

  3. Sender’s bank initiates the transfer: The sender’s bank uses the Bank Swift Code to initiate the international wire transfer.

  4. Interbank communication: The sender’s bank sends the transfer information, including the recipient’s bank and Bank Swift Code, to the corresponding bank or intermediary bank (if necessary). The recipient’s bank then verifies the information and confirms the availability of funds in the recipient’s account.

  5. Funds are credited to the recipient’s account: Once the recipient’s bank verifies the information and confirms the availability of funds, the funds are credited to the recipient’s account.

Potential Fees for International Transfers

It’s important to note that there may be fees associated with international transfers, including:

  • Transfer fees: Some banks charge a fee for sending or receiving international transfers.

  • Currency conversion fees: If you are sending money in a different currency than the recipient’s, there may be a fee to convert the currency.

  • Intermediary bank fees: If your bank uses an intermediary bank to process the transfer, there may be additional fees.

Also read: 5 Trusted Payments Options For Nigerian Freelancers.


A Swift Code is a critical component of international banking and is used to help banks accurately and securely identify each other for cross-border transactions. When setting up an international transfer, it’s important to have the correct Swift Code and to be aware of any potential fees. We hope this blog post has helped clarify the topic of Swift Codes and has given you the information you need to make informed decisions about your international transfers.

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