SWIFT/BIC Code

If you frequently make international fund transfers, whether to your family in your native country or for business purposes, you may have heard the term ‘SWIFT code’ several times. SWIFT codes are essential to transfer any amount of money to another country, whether in the same or a different bank. SWIFT codes ensure the safe transfer of messages that contain instructions related to money transfer. 

This piece will shed some light on SWIFT codes or BIC codes, key concepts related to the terms, and cover all the important things every UAE resident and citizen must know about them.

What is SWIFT Code in Banking Sector?

SWIFT, or Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is an electronic messaging system that facilitates fund transfers all over the world. The message that one bank sends to the other via the SWIFT network contains the instructions for payment transfer to a certain account in the receiver bank. 

As soon as the other bank receives the SWIFT message, they make the transaction and credit the money to the receiver’s account. SWIFT codes are unique codes assigned by the SWIFT system to different branches of banks and other financial institutions across the world. 

It should be noted that the SWIFT code is unique for each bank and its branches across the world. Whenever you want to make an international fund transfer, you will be required to provide a SWIFT code. This code is used to identify the country in which the receiving bank is located and the specific branch of the bank in that country. 

Are SWIFT Codes and BIC Codes the Same?

BIC codes are simply Bank Identifier codes. The terms BIC codes and SWIFT codes are often used interchangeably by most people and institutions. However, the key aspect to remember here is that the SWIFT network is responsible for assigning BIC codes to banks and their branches. So whenever you come across the term SWIFT code, it essentially means the BIC code assigned by the SWIFT network. 

Note: SWIFT/BIC codes are 8 or 11-digit alphanumerical codes. 

SWIFT Code Format

Generally, SWIFT codes are 11-character long and divided into a set of four. The first set contains 4 characters (all alphabets). These first four alphabets or letters represent the bank. 

The second set consists of two letterings that represent the country. Similar to the first set, the second set contains just alphabets. The third set is also made up of two characters, although one of them is a letter and the other is an alphabet. This set represents the location code. 

The final set is made of three characters containing both numbers and alphabets. The fourth set identifies the branch of the bank.

swift-code

How Can I Find my SWIFT/BIC Codes?

There are several ways to identify the SWIFT code of your bank. Given below are some of the most preferred and easiest ways to find out the BIC code of your bank:

Policybazaar.ae 

You can easily find the SWIFT code of your bank on our website. We have prepared dedicated pages for SWIFT codes of every bank in the UAE. You can find BIC codes for all different branches of your bank in the UAE. Simply search for the bank you want the BIC code for. Scroll through the page to find the SWIFT code of all different branches of that bank. 

Bank Statements

Both online and paper statements of your bank account can be used to check the SWIFT code of your bank’s branch. As a ‘green’ initiative to save paper waste, most banks offer digital statements nowadays. However, you can always request your bank to provide you with a physical paper statement if the online statement doesn’t have the SWIFT code on it.

Bank’s Website

If you are unable to find the SWIFT code on your bank statements, you can turn to the bank’s website to find it. Banks generally keep a list of all BIC codes and SWIFT codes on their website for the general public. So if you cannot find SWIFT codes easily, simply find the search icon on the website and type the SWIFT code to check if it is visible in search results. You can also check the FAQ section of the bank to find out SWIFT codes in the international transaction FAQ section. 

Search Engines

You can also use any search engine of your preference to look for specific SWIFT codes for your bank and its branch. Type the name of the bank, the country, and the specific region. If you know the location of the branch, type the specific location of the branch and then search for the code. 

Who Uses SWIFT/BIC Codes?

Both financial and non-financial institutions use SWIFT codes and BIC codes across the world. However, note that using the SWIFT code is not mandatory but voluntary. While your bank may use the SWIFT code system of communication, it is also possible that they may have adopted another electronic communication system for networking. 

With that said, SWIFT codes are used by a majority of financial and non-financial institutions worldwide. Given below is the list of different institutions that use SWIFT codes and BIC codes for international transactions across the world:

  • Trading houses
  • Brokerage institutions
  • Banks
  • Clearinghouses
  • Security Dealers
  • Exchanges
  • Asset management companies
  • Corporate business houses 
  • Foreign exchanges 
  • Money brokers
  • Treasury service providers and customers

Services offered by SWIFT

Messaging and Network 

The core function of the SWIFT system and SWIFT codes remains the connectivity and networking offered by them. As the connection offered by the SWIFT system is highly reliable, secure, and robust, most institutions prefer to use this particular system. While SWIFT codes allow users to send and receive messages containing important instructions for an international monetary transaction, it does not manage a transactional or client database. 

Any two institutes using the SWIFT system and SWIFT/BIC codes can send and receive messages in real-time for the smooth transfer of funds across countries. It includes much more than just your bank transaction or the transaction you make to send money to your family in another country. Some other inclusions of the system are messages containing information about the exchange of securities, treasury matching, forex transactions, and even derivative transactions. 

Business Intelligence

SWIFT system initially allowed only sending and receiving messages for international fund transactions. However, SWIFT recently introduced individual dashboards for each of its clients. This dashboard can be used by clients to track and monitor the messages, trade flow, activity, and reporting. Moreover, with several filters also available to check these reports, finding specific transactions and messages is quite easy with this system. 

Compliance Services

SWIFT system has started introducing several globally popular compliance services like KYC, Anti-Money Loundering, and sanctions. Among this list, the Know Your Customer (KYC) services are especially important now that clients have their dashboard and can use SWIFT system platforms to send and receive messages while also monitoring other activities. 

IBAN vs SWIFT Codes

International Bank Account Numbers, or simply IBANs, are alphanumeric codes used to identify the location of the bank and the account number of the person receiving the transferred money. Besides that, another use of IBAN codes is to verify if the entered details of any said transaction are correct. 

IBAN may consist of several characters. It begins with a 2-character country code given in the alphabet followed by 2 numbers called check digits. After that comes a 4-letter long bank code, up to a 6-number long sort code, and then the bank account number. 

IBANs are essential to ensure that transaction is being done with the correct information at hand. Both SWIFT codes and IBANs are required by most financial institutions whenever an international transaction is to be made. Whereas IBANs can only provide information about the transaction in consideration and the bank account number of the recipient, SWIFT codes can be used to transfer a much larger database of information. 

SWIFT codes can be used to not only get the exact bank, location, and branch of the bank but also details like account status, details related to money transfer, debit or credit amounts, etc. However, both IBANs and SWIFT codes are essential when it comes to international fund transfers. 

SWIFT Code/ BIC Code FAQs

What is a SWIFT code?

SWIFT code is an 8 or 11-character long code used to transfer information and instructions related to an international fund transaction.

What is BIC in banking?

BIC stands for Bank Identification Code in banking. It is another term used to refer to SWIFT codes.

Are SWIFT codes and BIC codes the same?

Yes, SWIFT codes and BIC codes refer to the same code in the banking sector. The terms can generally be used interchangeably.

How can I get my SWIFT code?

You can check out your SWIFT code on our website, your bank statements, the bank’s website, or by running a search on one of the search engines.

Is IBAN the same as SWIFT codes?

No, IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number and is used to transfer information about a specific bank account in a specific country. SWIFT codes, on the other hand, are used to transfer an array of information about a bank account including the name of the bank, the country, the region, specific branch, account status, debit and credit transactions, etc.

What are sort codes used for? Where do I find the sort code for my bank?

Sort codes are a part of the IBAN of an account holder. Sort code is used to identify the specific branch of the bank in which the account has been opened. One should note that sort code identification can also be used domestically. You can find the sort code in your IBAN as it is the fourth set of characters, written after the 4-letter bank code. Sort codes are generally 6-digit long. 

How do SWIFT codes work?

SWIFT codes work via a messaging system. SWIFT codes carry the information related to the bank of the recipient via an electronic message. As soon as the recipient bank receives this message from the sender’s bank, they verify the information and instructions sent via SWIFT code and carry forward the transaction.

Do I need an IBAN or a SWIFT code for an international fund transfer?

You may need both these numbers or codes for a successful international fund transfer, with the SWIFT system being deployed by a majority of the leading financial institutions worldwide. The SWIFT code will be used to identify the specific overseas branch of the recipient’s bank and the IBAN will help in identifying the account number.

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