The SWIFT Codes were introduced in 1973, as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication> was established. They are a standardized format of BIC Codes (Bank Identifier Codes).


The company started in a 40 square meters office in Brussels with 239 members in 15 countries. The purpose is to facilitate the funds transfer between banks and financial institutions. Today, the network has more than 10 thousand members and it continuously increasing. Each participant is asigned a SWIFT code to easily identify the institution in the process of exchanging messages or during money transfer. The code was standardised as ISO 9362 by the International Organization for Standardization and states that the code is consisting of 8 or 11 characters as following:

  • The first 4 letters are the bank or financial institution code;
  • Next 2 letters provide the ISO 3166-1 alpha 2 country code;
  • Next 2 letters or digits are the location code;
  • Last 3 characters can be letters and digits. XXX is used for the main office.

ISO 9362 and BIC Code

The ISO was last updated on 1st October 2009 as ISO 9362:2009 to also include the non-financial institutions. Beside SWIFT Code, it is also known as BIC Code which stands for Business Identifier Codes. Some non-financial institutions also have ISO 9362 codes asigned and they are easily recognizable since they are name BEI (Bussiness Entity Identifier).

Please notice that there is a special format for SWIFT addresses consisting of 12 characters known as BIC12, consisting of BIC8, 1 character for identifying the local destination and another 3 characters for the branch code.  Although this format is not standardized is is sometimes used by the messaging system.


SWIFT Codes for major countries by GDP


1
USA Flag
USA
15,684,750**
2
China Flag
China
8,227,037**
3
Japan Flag
Japan
5,963,969**
4
Germany Flag
Germany
3,400,579**
5
France Flag
France
2,608,699**
6
United Kingdom Flag
United Kingdom
2,440,505**
7
Brazil Flag
Brazil
2,395,968**
8
Russia Flag
Russia
2,021,960**
9
Italy Flag
Italy
2,014,019**
10
India Flag
India
1,824,832**
11
Canada Flag
Canada
1,819,081**
12
Australia Flag
Australia
1,541,797**
13
Spain Flag
Spain
1,352,057**
14
Mexico Flag
Mexico
1,177,116**
15
South Korea Flag
South Korea
1,155,872**
16
Indonesia Flag
Indonesia
878,198**
17
Turkey Flag
Turkey
794,468**
18
Netherlands Flag
Netherlands
773,116**
19
Saudi Arabia Flag
Saudi Arabia
727,307**
20
Switzerland Flag
Switzerland
632,400**
21
Iran Flag
Iran
548,895**
22
Sweden Flag
Sweden
526,192**
23
Norway Flag
Norway
501,101**
24
Poland Flag
Poland
487,674**


** 2012 GDP in millions of $US according to International Monetary Fund