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Is a BIC and SWIFT Code the Same?

June 6, 2024June 13th, 2024No Comments

Yes, a BIC (Bank Identifier Code) and a SWIFT code are the same thing. They are both used to identify specific banks or financial institutions globally. Here’s a detailed explanation of what each code is, why they are the same, and the origins of their names.

What is a BIC Code?

A BIC code, or Bank Identifier Code, is an international standard for identifying banks and financial institutions. It consists of 8 to 11 characters:

  • The first 4 characters represent the bank code.
  • The next 2 characters represent the country code.
  • The following 2 characters represent the location code.
  • The last 3 characters (optional) represent the branch code.

For example, in the BIC code BOFAUS3NXXX:

  • BOFA stands for Bank of America.
  • US indicates the United States.
  • 3N specifies the location.
  • XXX (optional) could be used for a specific branch.

What is a SWIFT Code?

A SWIFT code, or Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication code, is another name for the BIC. It serves the same purpose and is used interchangeably. The structure and format of SWIFT codes are identical to BIC codes.

Why are BIC and SWIFT Codes the Same?

BIC and SWIFT codes are the same because the term “SWIFT code” is derived from the organization that administers the BIC system. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is a cooperative that provides a network for financial institutions to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardized, and reliable environment.

Why is it Called BIC?

The term “BIC” stands for Bank Identifier Code. It was developed to provide a unique identification for banks and financial institutions, simplifying international financial transactions by providing a standardized format.

Why is it Called SWIFT?

The term “SWIFT” comes from the organization that oversees the BIC system. SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) was established in 1973 to create a unified network for international financial communication. As SWIFT became the main organization managing these codes, the term “SWIFT code” became synonymous with BIC.


In summary, BIC and SWIFT codes are the same thing. Both terms refer to the standard code used to identify banks globally for international transactions. The terms are used interchangeably because the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is the organization that manages the BIC system. Understanding these codes is crucial for anyone involved in international banking and finance, as they ensure that money is transferred accurately and efficiently between banks worldwide.

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