Debitoor's accounting dictionary

SWIFT/BIC codes - What are SWIFT/BIC codes?

SWIFT is a code used to identify the bank in international money transfers

Invoicing clients just got easier. Choose to include or exclude your SWIFT on each new invoice. Try Debitoor 7 days free to get started.

The SWIFT/BIC is an alphanumeric code with a specific combination of letters and numbers that allows banks making a transfer to identify the bank receiving a transfer. It provides security in the process of transferring funds.

SWIFT is an acronym for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, while BIC stands for ‘Bank Identification Code’ and is interchangeable with the SWIFT code.

What is the code?

SWIFT codes can be from 8 to 11 characters in length. It's structured as follows:

  • The first four characters identify the particular institution or bank to which the transfer will be made.
  • The next two characters specify the country.
  • The following two identify the location - usually the city.
  • The final three characters are usually numerical and indicate a particular branch or office.

When the final three characters are not included, the transfer goes to the head office or branch.

A SWIFT/BIC code consists of four bank characters, two country characters, two location (city) characters, and an optional three additional characters that indicate a branch or office

When is a SWIFT code needed?

Whenever an international transfer is made, a SWIFT code is necessary. It is usually paired with an IBAN (International Bank Account Number). Once the transfer is completed, the bank that receives the money issues a ‘SWIFT message’, a confirmation that funds were received and contains the full information about the transfer.

If you need to transfer funds to pay a supplier abroad, for example, you will need to include a SWIFT code. Conversely, if a customer from abroad needs to send you payment, they will request your SWIFT.

It is therefore an important piece of information to include in an invoice if you have customers abroad. It makes payment faster because the customer will not need to request the information, and ensure that your transfer is secure.

Finding SWIFT/BIC codes

If you are unsure of your account SWIFT/BIC code or number this can normally be found on your bank statement. This number is recognised throughout Europe so it’s always good to know your own as you never know when it might be needed.

If you don’t have a bank statement sent through the post but instead use only internet banking, you will be able to view your SWIFT code when you log in to your bank online. Contained in and making up part of these numbers are your actual bank account number and sort code so it is always wise to keep these safe.


While the SWIFT/BIC code specifies the country, bank, and branch, the IBAN provides information concerning the particular account that will be receiving the funds.

The combination of SWIFT and IBAN creates a higher level of accuracy and security when transferring funds both domestically and internationally.

Debitoor and SWIFT

Debitoor’s easy invoicing templates allow you to automatically include information that is important to your customers. Enter your SWIFT into your account details once and choose to include or exclude it in the footer of each invoice you create.

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