What is a Bank Identification Code? 10+ Facts And Overview

Bank Identification Code ( BIC code) are required for anybody sending international payments. Consequently, organizations having a global presence may need to be aware of this.

What is a Bank Identification Code (BIC code)?

A bank code is an identifying code consisting of alphanumeric or numeric characters that acts as the financial institution’s electronic address. The names and formulations of codes might differ from country to country. These codes enable possible the electronic transfer of funds between institutions.

A bank code is a nine-digit number known as a routing transit number in the United States (RTN). On the bottom left side of a check blank, the RTN is inserted between colon (:) markings. The number that follows the RTN is the account number for the individual.

What is a Bank Identification Code?

These identifiers were formerly known as ABA codes since the American Bankers Association assigned them (ABA). In 1910, the ABA began issuing codes to all US banks, although the Federal Reserve Banks eventually assumed this role.

The first four numbers reflect the local branch of the Federal Reserve Bank, the following four identify the individual bank, and the last number indicates the kind of account, such as a checking or savings account.

In Canada, banks utilize a code of eight digits known as a Bank Transit Number (BTN). In other countries, a bank code is known as a sort code. From four digits in Denmark to 10 digits in Spain, the number of characters utilized by different nations varies.

In every instance, however, the code identifies the nation and location of the institution holding the cash. International bank code systems have been devised to facilitate the movement of funds between banks in various nations.

One is known as the Bank Identifier Code (BIC). Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications assigns the BIC, which consists of eight letters, to identify the bank, country, and city (SWIFT). Although the United States has its own coding system, its banks also have SWIFT codes that allow them to perform international money transactions.

What is a Bank Identification Code?

The banking standards committee of the European Union mandated that, beginning in 2004, all financial institutions in member states be issued an extra bank code known as an International Bank Account Number (IBAN).

The IBAN is an alphanumeric identifier that may contain up to 34 characters. These are controlled by ISO 13616, an International Organization for Standardization rule (ISO). The first two letters of an IBAN represent the BIC country code, followed by a two-digit control key, the bank sort code, and an account number.

In the United States, Canada, and many other nations, bank codes and account numbers are required to be written on checks using magnetic ink and a Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) typeface. This sort of printing enables computerized check reading. In some locations, if banks fail to use the correct ink and font on checks, they are subject to fines and other penalties.

Is BIC the same as a SWIFT code?

Short answer: yes.

The phrases are interchangeable and refer to the same thing; different banks and financial institutions just give them different names. It is also important to note that these codes may be referred to as SWIFT/BIC codes, BIC/SWIFT codes, SWIFT IDs, or SWIFT identifiers, although there is no distinction between these words in reality.

What is a Bank Identification Code?

What do BIC/SWIFT codes look like?

The BIC and SWIFT code formats are uniform. They range in length from 8 to 11 characters and are organized as follows:


AAAA – 4-character bank code that looks like a shortened version of the bank’s name

AAAA – 4-character bank code that looks like a shortened version of the bank’s name

BB – 2-character country code telling you which country the bank is in

BB – 2-character country code telling you which country the bank is in

CC – 2-character location code telling you where the bank’s head office is located

CC – 2-character location code telling you where the bank’s head office is located

DDD – 3-character branch code (optional) telling you where the specific branch is located

DDD – 3-character branch code (optional) telling you where the specific branch is located

Since some banks do not utilize the 3-character branch code, their BIC codes will be shorter (8 characters). The branch code may be changed with a triple X (i.e. MIDLGB22XXX) or omitted for these banks.

What is a Bank Identification Code?

How do I find my BIC code?

You will need to know your BIC number in order to receive an overseas payment. You can often find this information on your bank statements, but if you don’t have any handy, you can use your online banking account or call your local branch.

If you’re making an overseas payment and need to discover the recipient’s BIC number, you may use a BIC/SWIFT finder, such as this one from Bank.Codes, which allows you to search for the codes of specific branches or authenticate SWIFT numbers for more security.

Before authorizing a payment, it is essential to confirm with the receiver that the BIC number you have been provided is accurate. A erroneous code might result in your money being returned, delayed, or deposited into the wrong account.

Payment collection in Europe? Consult our manual on SEPA Payments

Everything you need to know about SEPA Payments: How they function, Pros & Cons, How to Access, Costs, and Timings…

Is there a fee for using BIC/SWIFT numbers?

Yes, most banks charge a fee to process foreign transfers, therefore you may need to pay between $40 and $50 when using a BIC number. It is also likely that you will pay a handling charge from associated banks while your transfer is in route.

As bank transactions utilizing SWIFT codes frequently include one to three associated banks, these costs might accumulate. In addition, information on handling costs is sometimes buried in the fine print, making it difficult to determine how much you will be charged for the transfer.

Why do I need a BIC/ SWIFT code?

If you need to transmit money internationally, you will nearly always require a SWIFT/ BIC code. Because of this, money transfers do not officially transmit money throughout the world.

What is a Bank Identification Code?

Through the SWIFT system or its various routes, banks securely transfer information to one another that identifies where the money should come from (which account should be debited) and which account should receive the money. Without this code, your bank will be unable to transmit your funds to the correct location.

Therefore, it is important for a bank on one side of the globe to identify the correct bank on the other side, when it comes to international wire transfers.

Even if you use an international money transfer app like Xe, you will need to enter the BIC/ SWIFT code of the recipient’s bank when wiring money to the recipient, as the money will travel from your bank account to the recipient’s bank account.

When do you need a SWIFT/BIC code?

SWIFT codes may be required for sending or receiving money internationally between banks, notably international wire transfers or SEPA payments. SWIFT codes enable banks to handle international wire transactions.

Where can I find my SWIFT/BIC code?

Your bank’s SWIFT/BIC code is often listed on your bank account statements. You may also use our SWIFT/BIC search to obtain the correct transfer code.

But why should you cross-check it?

In actuality, if you submit an invalid SWIFT code, the bank must reverse the payment and reimburse your funds. However, they will charge a specified cost and it may take some time before you receive your money.

As soon as you realize you’ve input the incorrect code to transmit money worldwide (oops), contact your bank immediately. They may be able to reverse the transaction, so cross your fingers.

You may avoid this situation by ensuring that the BIC/SWIFT code has:

No typing errors

You may believe that inputting a SWIFT code requires no effort. However, when you eventually type it, letter by character, it may appear to be a marathon. Since it is simple to make an error when entering in code, it is preferable to copy and paste wherever possible.

The proper format

Always adhere to the format of the BIC/SWIFT code provided by the receiver. For instance, do not insert the country code before the bank code. Remember that there should be no gaps between the code’s characters.

How do I verify a BIC/SWIFT code?

Always verify the BIC/ SWIFT code and other details with the receiver or your bank before to transferring or receiving money.

Is IBAN the same as SWIFT/ BIC?

No, IBAN and SWIFT are two distinct codes, yet both serve the same purpose – sending and receiving funds. SWIFT codes are used by banks to identify bank branches for international payments. In contrast, IBAN codes identify individual bank accounts for both local and foreign transactions.


A bank identification code (BIC) is a unique code assigned to all banking institutions in the U.S. and many other countries around the world.

This information can be used when depositing checks at a bank, which is why you’ll often see it on checks. You can also use the BIC code to check whether or not a bank has funds for you.

If you deposit a check into your account and don’t have enough money in the account to cover it, you can check the BIC code to make sure you’re not overdrawing your account.

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Pat Moriarty
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