What is a SWIFT code and where to find it

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When paying vendors in countries outside the US, you might need a SWIFT code.


SWIFT stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which you often use when making international payments. Also known as BIC - Business Identifier Code - a SWIFT code is used by banks to process international transfers. It contains a series of reference numbers that help identify a specific bank when making or requesting an international payment.


SWIFT codes are formatted like this: AAAA BB CC DDD. They have either 8 or 11 characters - letters and digits. When you see an 11 digit code, that refers to specific branches, while the 8 digit SWIFT/BIC codes (or those ending in 'XXX') refer to the head or primary office. Here's a breakdown of what that format means:

  • First 4 characters - bank code (only letters).
  • Next 2 characters - ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code (only letters).
  • Next 2 characters - location code, passive participant will have "1" in the second character (letters and digits).
  • Last 3 characters - branch code, optional - 'XXX' for primary office (letters and digits).


Where to you find a vendor’s SWIFT code

The SWIFT code is normally added to the invoice sent by your vendor. If needed you can ask your vendor for their SWIFT code or you can find SWIFT codes for all banks and their branches here: https://www.theswiftcodes.com/

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