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What is SWIFT and How do SWIFT Transfers work?

Oliver
Oliver July 2020 2 min

Like the BIC (Business Identifier Code), the SWIFT code – also called the SWIFT address – allows for the unique identification of each participating financial institution. Since the standardization of payment transactions within the European Union beginning in August 2014, the BIC has replaced the bank identification number (Bankleitzahl) used previously in Germany. SWIFT codes are used in all international transfers, bank statements, notification that a letter of credit has been opened, and foreign exchange transactions.

The SWIFT code or SWIFT BIC consists of eight to eleven characters that uniquely identify a financial institution. It is made up of a two-digit country code (e.g. DE for Germany), a four-digit bank code and a two-digit location code (e.g. BB for Berlin).

Where can I find a Bank’s SWIFT Code?

You can find a bank’s SWIFT code, SWIFT number and BIC on the bank’s website or on your own bank account documents. You can also enter “[Bank name] BIC” or “[Bank name] SWIFT” into your preferred search engine to find your bank’s SWIFT code.

How does a SWIFT Transfer work?

How does a SWIFT transfer work? With the introduction of the IBAN and the BIC, there is now no difference between domestic and international transfers. You can carry out transfers online or use a paper transfer form from your bank. All you need is the payee’s IBAN and BIC (SWIFT code). The SWIFT code provides the processing bank the information it needs to identify the country and bank in which the recipient’s account is located. For domestic transfers, this information is already included in the IBAN.

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