I'm helping a friend with submitting an expenses claim to a US organisation we're both involved with. As the money is coming from a US bank, we can't just give them an IBAN and a BIC and be done with it. Instead, we've got to supply full swift details.

My bank publishes their swift code. Comparing that to the BIC on my statement, it's similar, but different. (The BIC I've been told is 3 characters longer, and the 4th character from the end is not the same as the last character in the Swift code.)

Answers.com claims that Swift and BIC codes are the same thing, and that's what my friend was told when she asked her bank for its swift details. My bank however disagrees...

That makes me think that some banks have their Swift and BIC codes be the same, but that isn't required. Anyone know if that's the case?

2 Answers 2


IBAN -> is International Bank Account Number. The number is constructed in such a way that it uniquely identifies your account in the world. I.e. it has a country in it, Bank (and branch) and the actual account number. This is an international standard adopted by the EU, Australia and NZ. Going forward it would be sufficient to just quote the IBAN for payment without any other details.

BIC, SWIFT Code, SWIFT BIC, SWIFT ID [all mean the same] is a Bank Identifier Code [More correctly Business Identifier Code] that is again an International standard and used on all International payments. The SWIFT BIC is constructed as

  • 4 Chars Bank Code [As issued by SWIFT]
  • 2 Chars of Country Code [ISO Country Code standard]
  • 2 Chars of Location Code [Issued by SWIFT in consultation with country]
  • 3 Chars of Branch Code decided by the individual Bank [This is optional]

Hence SWIFT BIC can be 8 Chars or 11 Chars. The additional 3 Chars help bank identify the Branch where the account is held and where the payment needs to be made.

So LOYDGB2L is the main head office

  • BIC LOYD-> Lloyds TSB
  • GB-> Great Britain
  • 2L->London

If your branch is, say, in Canary Wharf, the SWIFT BIC would be LOYDGB21 [21-> Canary Wharf] with a 3 digit branch added.

  • 1
    As of 2019, Australia and New Zealand do not use IBAN, but 103 other countries do. Of them roughly half is the European countries, and the rest includes Brazil, Iran, Kazachstan, Israel, Algeria and others).
    – texnic
    Dec 1, 2019 at 7:44

BIC and IBANN are used in EU (and some other OECD countries) for inter bank transfers.

SWIFT is used everywhere for interbank transfers. In the US - IBAN system is not (yet, hopefully) available, so you have to use SWIFT.

The codes may look the same, but these are different systems.

More details here.

  • 1
    Your mixing up Bank Account referencing schemes with payment systems. Dec 13, 2012 at 18:42
  • 3
    IBAN is a referencing scheme used to identify bank accounts across international boundaries. There is no 'system' named IBAN which allows you to actually make payments. One example of a payment system which can be used to make payments using IBAN numbers is TARGET 2 within the EU Single Payments Area (SEPA). en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Target_2. SWIFT is also a payment system, which uses BIC as a bank identifier (not a bank account identifier). So SWIFT and BIC are different parts of the same thing. Dec 13, 2012 at 18:48

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