What are Swift Code? || How to Find a SWIFT Code?

Business is changing, and it’s becoming easier to do business worldwide. People want to work together, and we have the technology to make it possible. The SWIFT service helps connect countries and makes global trade faster. It’s a secure way to make payments across borders and helps banks work together.

Over 11,000 banks used SWIFT in 2021, sending roughly 42 million messages daily, a 11.4% increase from 2020. Business is thriving!

What are Swift codes?

SWIFT Codes are a standardized format used for international transfers between banks. They help identify the branch, bank, and country of an account through Bank Identifier Codes (BIC). SWIFT, which stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, manages the BIC system.

It enables quick identification of banks and facilitates speedy payments. The SWIFT network also established the format for IBANs (international bank account numbers).

BIC codes are used in secure transactions such as international bank wires, money transfers, and SEPA payments.  When businesses use the SWIFT network, they send “payment orders” rather than actual money.

SWIFT codes are also referred to as:

  1. SWIFT ID 
  2. BIC codes
  3. ISO9362

Format of SWIFT/BIC Code:

A SWIFT/BIC code is a code consisting of 8-11 characters that provides information about your country, city, bank, and branch. It includes the following components:

1. Bank Code (A-Z): Four letters that represent the bank, often resembling a shortened version of its name.

2. Country Code (A-Z): Two letters indicating the country where the bank is located.

3. Location Code (0-9, A-Z): Two characters made up of letters or numbers, specifying the bank’s head office location.

4. Branch Code (0-9, A-Z): Three digits that identify a specific branch. The code ‘XXX’ typically represents the bank’s head office.

Example of a SWIFT Code:

An example of a SWIFT code is UNCRITMM (XXX) for UniCredit Banca, an Italian bank located in Milan. In this code, “UNCR” represents the bank code for UniCredit, “IT” represents the country code for Italy, and “MM” indicates the location code for Milan. Since there is no specific branch code, any transfer sent with this code will be directed to UniCredit Banca’s primary office in Milan.

When do you need a SWIFT/BIC code?

Typically, a SWIFT code is required when conducting international bank transactions, especially for wire transfers or SEPA payments.SWIFT was first created to simplify correspondence with treasury and correspondent transactions. However, due to its versatile messaging format.

SWIFT has expanded its services to include various entities, such as:

  • Banks
  • Corporations
  • Foreign exchange
  • Clearing systems
  • Asset management companies
  • Money brokers
  • Non-bank financial institutions
  • Treasury market participants
  • Depositories.

Where can I find my SWIFT/BIC code?

You can typically locate your bank’s SWIFT/BIC code on your bank account statements. Alternatively, you can utilize our SWIFT/BIC finder tool to obtain the correct code for your transfer.

SWIFT Code Working for International Payments:

SWIFT was initially designed to improve communication efficiency and security among banks, specifically for international payments. It serves as a messenger, relaying payment instructions from the issuing bank (the payer) to the receiving bank (the beneficiary).

A SWIFT code allows banks and clearing systems to determine the appropriate destination for international money transfers. It identifies the recipient’s bank, the sender’s bank, and the intended location of the funds.

In certain cases, a SWIFT payment may involve an intermediary bank due to different banking regulations across countries. These intermediaries help facilitate the completion of the transaction.

To ensure the smooth functioning of the SWIFT system, banks establish Nostro and Vostro accounts with each other.

Nostro and Vostro Accounts

Due to the requirement for both banks to maintain a record of withdrawals and deposits, two mirror ledgers known as Nostro and Vostro accounts are created. 


Nostro means “ours” in Latin, and it refers to an account that one bank holds in a foreign location with another bank.


Vostro means “yours,” and it is how a bank refers to accounts that other banks have with them.

When both banks have a Nostro and Vostro account relationship, SWIFT transfers can occur directly and immediately. However, if the banks do not have this relationship, the SWIFT network needs to involve an intermediary bank.

Once a correspondent bank is found (meaning it has relationships with the other two banks involved), the SWIFT transaction can proceed. The more banks are involved in these international transactions, the higher the fees, potential delays, and risks may be.

How to Find a SWIFT Code?

A SWIFT code can be found in various places, including:

1. Bank account statements

2. Online banking customer portal

3. Bank’s website

4. Contacting the bank directly

5. Using an online SWIFT code search tool.

How to Check a SWIFT Code?

A SWIFT code can be verified and checked using internet tools. Simply copy and paste the code into a SWIFT code checker, and the search engine will indicate whether it is valid or not. Since international banks provide these codes on their websites, it is a quick process to ensure the accuracy of the code you have.


1. Does it cost money to use a SWIFT code?

Yes, using a SWIFT code for international transfers may involve fees. The exact charges vary depending on the banks and their respective policies.

2. What happens if you give the wrong SWIFT code (BIC)?

Providing an incorrect SWIFT code can lead to various outcomes, depending on the situation. In some cases, the transaction may be rejected or delayed. It could also result in the funds being sent to the wrong bank or branch.

3. Is a SWIFT code or BIC like a routing number?

No, a SWIFT code or BIC is not the same as a routing number. These codes serve different purposes in different banking systems.

Final verdict:

Despite facing competition from other real-time messaging services, SWIFT maintains a strong presence in capital markets. This is explained by its calculated approach. SWIFT consistently updates its database with new message codes to support various types of financial transactions. It remains agile and responsive to the evolving fintech landscape and the changing requirements of the financial industry. As a result, SWIFT stands out as one of the most valuable and adaptable systems for facilitating international transfers worldwide.