How and when do you see a SWIFT/BIC?

If you send money to Pakistan or your home country from abroad, this article will help you understand a few important points. The SWIFT/BIC is an alphanumeric code with a certain combination of letters and numbers. It is also known as the SWIFT number. Every bank has this code. It is used to recognize banks and financial institutions internationally. This code helps the bank while making a transfer to identify the recipient bank. Like guards provide physical security to the banks similarly, this code provides security for electronic bank-to-bank transfers.

Difference between BIC and SWIFT

There is no difference between BIC and SWIFT codes. There is sometimes confusion over the difference between these two codes. It depends on banks and financial institutions which name they prefer to use. Some banks call it SWIFT code, and some call it BIC code. Sometimes this gets a bit confusing for the customers. It is possible that from the country you make a money transfer to Pakistan from, refer to it with one name and the bank from which the recipient gets it may call it from the other name.

SWIFT is an abbreviation for ‘Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication’, and BIC stands for ‘Bank Identifier Code’. Both these codes have the same job. They provide security while making international transactions.

Arrangement of the SWIFT/BIC code

A SWIFT/BIC is an 8-11 characters long code. It depends on the country from where you make a transfer and the bank you have an account in.

  • Bank code (only letters)

The first four letters represent the bank to which the online money transfer to Pakistan will be made. It appears to be an abbreviation for the bank’s name.

  • Country code (only letters)

The next two letters represent the country in which the bank is.

  • Location code (letters and digits)

These two characters can be in digits or letters. They identify the city.

  • Branch code (letters and digits)

The final three digits represent the particular branch or office. It is usually numerical and indicates a bank’s head office.


Example of a SWIFT code

Some banks do not include branch code in their SWIFT/BIC code. So you will have a shorter code than usual.

When is the SWIFT/BIC code required?

Whenever you are sending money internationally between banks, you require a SWIFT/BIC code. After you transfer the money, the bank that receives it then issues a SWIFT/BIC message. That message confirms that the funds have been received. It actually contains complete information about the transfer.

Where to find my BIC/SWIFT code?

If anyone sends money to Pakistan online or cash from a foreign country, he/she will require your BIC/SWIFT code to make the transfer possible. Likewise, if you want to send money abroad, you will need the SWIFT/BIC code of the recipient. This code can be seen on your bank account statement.  If you are not able to find the code, then your bank can help you in this regard. But this code is necessary if you want to make any international transaction.

Difference between BIC/SWIFT and IBAN

IBAN and the BIC/SWIFT are two different things. IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number. It gives information about the particular account that will receive the transferred money. At the same time, BIC/SWIFT code identifies the country, bank and branch. Two combined gives a higher level of security. They both together give accurate information about the recipient account.


It is important to have knowledge about your SWIFT/BIC code. You can easily look for it on your bank statement. If you don’t have any bank statements and only do your transfers via an online account, you can see your BIC/SWIFT code when you log in to your account. These codes are used as bank identifiers, so they play a crucial role, especially when making international transactions. In Europe, it is well known, so it’s always good to have information about your code because you never know when you might need it.