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How can you read / understand a SWIFT code?


If you are asking the above question, then you already are aware that a SWIFT code refers to a unique code that refers to a bank. Dealing with banks, inevitably leads you to use their SWIFT codes and that means you would need to interpret their codes. This really comes in handy if the only information you have about a bank is the SWIFT and you want to know more about it.

There are only two kinds of SWIFT codes. There are codes that have only eight characters. Then, you have codes that are slightly longer and have eleven characters. The differentiation in the character count is based on the fact that the shorter SWIFT code refers to the primary office of the bank. The longer codes are all related to the non-primary offices of the bank.

We can divide any SWIFT code into 3 mandatory sections, and one more section which is present in case of eleven digit codes. The three main parts, in that order are – bank code, country code and the last one is the location code. The optional fourth section is the branch code. The first section, the bank code, is exactly four letters in length and is completely made up of letters. You will never find any numbers in this section.

The second section of any SWIFT code, the country code is precisely 2 letters. Once again, there would be no numbers here. The SWIFT organization has assigned dedicated numbers to each country and those letters will be used to indicate the country code of the code for each bank in the world. The third mandatory section of the code is the location code. The location code, unlike the country or the bank code is made of characters and numbers. The last section, which is optional and hence not essential for transactions, is the branch code. The branch code is made of letters as well as numbers.

Let us consider the swift code for the Deutsche Bank in the United States. The code for that bank in the US is BKTRUS33. Based on what we have learnt from the above explanation, the first four letters form the bank code. In this case, the bank code is ‘BKTR’. The next two characters are US, which stands for United States. Lastly, we have two numbers ‘33’, which is the location code. This number is only 8 characters in length, so we know that this is the code for the primary office.

What is a SWIFT Code?

SWIFT codes or Bank Identifier Codes (BIC) are unique identification codes for a particular bank. SWIFT or BIC codes are widely used to transfer messages and money between financial institutions, and mainly between banks.

How can you read / understand a SWIFT code?

Every SWIFT code consists of 8 or 11 characters. When a8-digits code is given, it refers to the primary bank office.

With a 8-digit SWIFT code, you can assume that it refers to the primary office.

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