SWIFT and BIC: A Brief Overview of Their Differences

Banking and money transfer is a complex affair and requires the use of unique codes in order to identify the different institutions, banks and branches. SWIFT and BIC are used in the banking and finance sector to identify particular banks and branches for international money transfers. Knowing the difference between the two codes is important when it comes to making sure your transfers go through safely and securely. 

Transfers are made through a secure network with bank-level encryption and authentication, making them one of the most secure money transfer methods available. The sender and recipient must both have access to a SWIFT-enabled bank account in order to transfer funds. All transactions should be verified and authorized before they can be processed, adding an additional layer of security. 

What Is a SWIFT Code and How Does It Work?

It is an internationally-recognized identification code used to identify a particular bank or financial institution. It helps to facilitate money transfers between financial institutions, particularly international wire transfers. It works by using a combination of 8 or 11 characters assigned to a particular financial institution. For example, the SWIFT code HSBC is ​​HBUKGB4BXXX. 

When an international wire transfer is requested, the sender and receiver must provide their SWIFT in order for the transfer to be processed. This information is used to ensure that the funds will be deposited into the correct account. 

What Does a SWIFT Code Look Like?

It is an 8- or 11-digit code that identifies a particular bank or branch. It helps to make international wire transfers and to identify institutions in international transactions. 

An example of a SWIFT: HBUKGB4BXXX.

  • The first 4 digits (HBUK) stand for Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation UK;
  • The 5th and 6th digits (GB) stand for Great Britain;
  • The 7th and 8th digits (4B) are location codes;
  • The last three digits (XXX) stand for the branch. 

SWIFT is essential for international wire transfers and other financial transactions and plays a vital rtrole in ensuring the accuracy of financial transactions.

What Is a BIC Code and How Does It Work?

A BIC, also known as a Bank Identifier Code, is an international code used to identify the specific financial institution behind a transaction. It is an 8-11 character alphanumeric code used when transferring money between banks, particularly for international wire transfers.

When performing a wire transfer, the sender must provide the recipient’s bank’s BIC in order for the transfer to be successful. It helps to ensure that the money is sent to the correct place and is securely delivered.

What Does a BIC Code Look Like?

A BIC is an 8-11 character code used to identify financial institutions worldwide.

  • The first 4 characters represent the bank; 
  • The following 2 characters represent the country — the country; 
  • The next 2 characters represent the location — the city or region;
  • The last three digits are optional and represent the branch. 

The BIC of HSBC UK in Birmingham is HBUKGB4BRTN. It can tell you that the location is Great Britain (GB), it is an HSBC UK (HBUK), and the branch is located in Birmingham (4B).

Difference between BIC and SWIFT Code

BIC and SWIFT are two terms that are often used interchangeably. They are used to send and receive international payments. 

A BIC is an international code that uniquely identifies a particular bank. SWIFT is used to identify financial and non-financial institutions. Both codes are primarily used for international wire transfers. 


The use of SWIFT and BIC is essential for sending and receiving international payments and provides a secure way for banks and businesses to communicate with each other. It is a reliable and efficient system that is used by the majority of the world’s banks and is essential for the global financial system. It is a powerful tool that helps to reduce costs, streamline processes and increase security.