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SWIFT Codes Decoded: Finding, Understanding, and Using the Right Code

Do you receive money from abroad? You may need a SWIFT code so that the sending financial institution or money transfer company knows where to send your funds.

Let’s take a look at what is a SWIFT code, the differences between them and other types of codes, and how to use one. 

What is a SWIFT Code?

What is a SWIFT Code?

A SWIFT code is essentially a code that is used to identify the bank, branch, and country that the account belongs (or is registered) to. The Society for WorldWide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (or SWIFT) is a type of messaging network used to transmit information securely by financial institutions using a system of codes. 

The point of this 11-digit code is so that your money will go to the right place — banks and money transfer companies will typically require one when you fill out a remittance form. 

Formed in 1973, the SWIFT network provides a standardized way for banks to transmit information to each other so they can conduct transactions. How it works is that the network helps to pass on information through an intermediary institution before the money arrives at the final destination (aka your recipient’s bank account).

Since 2014, the network has over 11,000 connected financial institutions in over 200 countries where they can exchange information regarding financial details. In 2014 it’s exchanged over 5.6 billion messages – pretty impressive.

Why Do I Need to Use a SWIFT Code?

A SWIFT code is used to facilitate the transfer of funds from one financial institution to another. Think of it as when you mail a letter or package to someone — you need the correct address (including the street name, building number, and country) in order for it to get to the intended recipient.

To put it another way a SWIFT code is like an address, or destination where your money will get sent to. It’s an identifier for the specific branch of a bank, though it’s not the same as an individual account number.

You need a SWIFT code if you’re sending from bank to bank, such as from your bank in Canada to your relative’s bank account with Bancoppel in Mexico City.

In that case, once you pay the necessary fees and sign any required documents, your bank will send out a SWIFT message about your specific transfer details via its secure network to Bancoppel (including the specific branch).

Then the money will be transferred and credit to your family member’s account once the message about the incoming payment is acknowledged and received. 


Do I Need a SWIFT Code for Remitly?

Money transfer apps like Remitly don’t usually require a SWIFT code to complete your transaction. We make it easy for you to send to friends and family in countries like the Philippines, Mexico, or India.

  1. For first-time users, download the Remitly app and create an account. Then select your destination country.
  2. Enter the amount you wish to send as well.
  3. Select your preferred method of delivery: bank deposit, cash pickup, mobile wallet, or even home delivery in some countries. 
  4. Enter your recipient’s information, like their name and address. You will need their bank details if you’re sending to their account, but their bank account number is sufficient. Then enter your information as the sender.
  5. Select your method of payment and enter your payment details.

You will need to provide a SWIFT code or a BIC (Bank Identifier Code) only for a SEPA transfer in the eurozone. That is an Economy transfer from a bank account to another bank account (rather than from your debit or credit card.)

How Will I Know What a SWIFT Code Looks Like?

A SWIFT code is an eight to 11 digit code comprised of four components: 

  • Bank code – This is four letters that look like a shortened variation of the bank’s name
  • Country code – You’ll be able to see two letters showing you which country the bank is from
  • Location code – There will be two numbers or letters showing you the city of the bank’s headquarters
  • Branch code – This part of the code is optional comprising of three digits that indicates a bank’s specific branch rather than just its headquarters (this is important if not all branches are able to receive wire transfers)

For example, the SWIFT code “BOFAUS3N” is from the Bank of America, indicated by the first four letters (BOFA looks like an abbreviation of the bank’s name).

The next two letters represent the U.S. and the last two characters are for their bank headquarters.

Is a SWIFT Code the Same as a BIC?

A BIC stands for “Bank Identifier Code” and it’s technically the same thing as a SWIFT code. Both SWIFT and BIC can be used interchangeably.

They both consist of letters and numbers identifying the bank, branch, and country of a registered account.

How is a SWIFT code Different From an IBAN?

Both a SWIFT code and an IBAN are important to identify different components of your recipient’s bank information.

While a SWIFT code is for the purposes of identifying a specific bank when conducting an international transaction, an IBAN (or International Bank Account Number) is what identifies someone’s specific account within the bank for their specific transaction. 

Many countries use IBAN’s 34 character code (which also comprises of letters and numbers) for international money transfers.

In fact, the SWIFT network has helped to standardize IBAN, ensuring it’s easier to send money abroad. 

When Do I Use a SWIFT Code vs BIC or IBAN?

All of these codes are used when conducting international money transfers between financial institutions like banks. That’s because these identifying codes are there to ensure a successful (and hopefully quick) transfer across international borders. 

SWIFT codes offer a way for banks to share a huge amount of financial information including the status of the sender and recipient’s account, and any other relevant details regarding the transfer.

The IBAN is also there to ensure that the bank has access to the recipient’s individual account information. 

Of course, the codes required will depend on your bank or financial institution, your recipient’s bank, the country where you’re originating the transfer as well received. Not all banks have both SWIFT codes or IBANs, so it’s important to figure out what you’ll need to use for your international transfer. 

In any case, without either of these codes, the chances of your transfer being successful will be much lower. 

How Can I Find a SWIFT Code?

There are a few ways to find a SWIFT code. The most obvious method is to contact your bank (if you’re receiving money) and ask for it. In many cases your bank should have this information marked on their website. 

Some banks will have different SWIFT codes for different currencies — one for domestic and international currencies — so make sure you double check. For example, Bank of America has two different SWIFT codes.

Another way to find out is to log into your bank account online and head to your account summary page (or its equivalent) and look at your account details. In many cases you’ll be able to see your branch address, account number, and SWIFT code. 

Don’t forget your bank statements house important information about your account — see if the SWIFT code appears anywhere on there.

If you’re the one who is conducting the transaction, ask the recipient to use the same options above to find out the information.

In some cases your bank or money transfer companies already have this information on hand, so all you have to do is log into your account, enter the person you’re sending money to, their bank details (including name of their financial institution), and the location. 

There are also SWIFT code finder websites whose sole purpose is to help you find the relevant one from banks all over the world.

Keep in mind not all of these websites have the most up to date information, so use a SWIFT code checker to validate the information or contact the bank directly.

For quick reference, here are some SWIFT codes for major banks.

SWIFT Code Finder for Major Banks

Bank of America

  • BOFAUS3N (for U.S. dollars or unknown currency)
  • BOFAUS6S should (for foreign currency)


Codes are different depending on the country of your HSBC bank account. The following are a few codes from select countries:

  • U.S. – MRMDUS33
  • Hong Kong – HSBCHKHHHKH
  • England – MIDLGB22

Wells Fargo

Codes will differ depending on location.

Here are a few select ones:

  • Los Angeles, U.S. – PNBPUS6L
  • Winston-Salem, U.S. – PNBPUS33SLC
  • Philadelphia, U.S. – PNBPUS33 or PNBPUS33PHL
  • Dublin, Ireland – PNBPIE2D
  • London, England – PNBPGB2L
  • Seoul, South Korea – PNBPKRSX
  • Singapore – PNBPSGSG


All customers throughout India can use the code HDFCINBB.


If you’re sending an international transfer to, use the code CHASUS33.


Use the SWIFT code ICICINBBNRI to send money to any ICICI account holder.

Emirates NBD 

Bank account holders should use EBILAEAD to receive money.


Scotiabank uses the code NOSCCATT for customers who want to receive funds from abroad.


This co-operative bank in the Netherlands uses the SWIFT code RABONL2U.


This bank based in the Philippines uses the SWIFT code MBTCPHMMXXX.

Union bank 

Send transfers to customers of Union Bank using the code BOFCUS33MPK.


SWIFT codes for Citibank will depend on the recipient’s country.

Some locations include:

  • U.S.- CITIUS33
  • United Kingdom – CITIGB2L
  • Greece – CITIGRAA
  • India – CITIINBX
  • Singapore – CITISGSG
  • Hong Kong – CITIHKHX
  • Canada – CITICATT 
  • New Zealand – CITINZ2X 
  • Thailand – CITITHBX
  • South Africa – CITIZAJX

Lloyds Bank 

If you’re sending money to a Lloyds Bank customer, use the code LOYDGB21.

Do All Banks Have a SWIFT Code?

The short answer is no, not all banks have their own SWIFT or BIC codes. It could be that many smaller banks and credit unions choose not to connect to the SWIFT network, meaning that they don’t have any routing codes to send and receive money internationally. 

Even if your bank has a SWIFT code, it doesn’t mean your specific branch has one either. 

What does this mean? To be able to send or receive international money transfers, your bank or credit union needs to use another bank to wire money, acting as an intermediary. Or it’s not a service that’s even offered to its customers (as in their bank can’t receive international wire transfers), so you’ll have to find another bank that can help you.

Of course, bank transfers are only one of many ways to send money abroad which can be useful if a SWIFT code isn’t possible or your loved one’s bank can’t receive international wire transfers. 

  • This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover all aspects of the topics discussed herein. This publication is not a substitute for seeking advice from an applicable specialist or professional. The content in this publication does not constitute legal, tax, or other professional advice from Remitly or any of its affiliates and should not be relied upon as such. While we strive to keep our posts up to date and accurate, we cannot represent, warrant or otherwise guarantee that the content is accurate, complete or up to date.

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