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Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using SWIFT Codes

4 min read

Introduction

SWIFT codes are a type of BIC code—which stands for Bank Identification Code—used for international wire transfers. Swift codes are between 8-11 characters and allow banks to identify the financial institution that holds your bank account. SWIFT codes are essential for international money transfers and help ensure that those transactions are completed safely and promptly.

The SWIFT system is used by thousands of banks worldwide to send information about financial transactions between themselves using standardized codes. These codes make it easier for people to identify their bank accounts, as well as make transfers between them easier on an international level.
 
 

SWIFT/BIC number structure: An 8-11 character code that identifies your country, city, bank, and branch.

  • A Country Code: 4 letters representing the bank it’s used by. It usually looks like a shortened version of that bank’s name.
  • Location Code: 2 characters made up of letters or numbers. It says where that bank’s head office is located.
  • Branch Code: 3 digits specifying a particular branch in one city (international transfers) or at one branch (domestic transfers). ‘XXX’ represents the bank’s head office.

 
 

Different countries have different bank structures, and each has a different way of identifying banks and branches.

In the United States, for example, you’ll find that Bank of America is represented by both a SWIFT code (BALUSD2N) and an IBAN (US4365000324495554). This can be confusing for those who are new to international business transactions.

While SWIFT codes are used to identify a specific bank during an international transaction, an International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is used to track an individual account involved in the global transaction.
 
 

Common mistakes to look out for:

1. Typing mistakes

It’s easy to make a mistake when typing them character by character, especially if you are doing it in a hurry. So if you have a SWIFT code that you want to use, try copying and pasting the digital format to minimize the likelihood of errors.
 

2. Incorrect formats

It is important to take note of the way that you write SWIFT codes. The most frequent mistake made in writing these numbers is having spaces between characters, which renders the code invalid and prevents it from being processed.

If you are sending money online, it is essential that you avoid making this mistake. Some banks may reject your transfer if they receive a code written with spaces between characters, so always ensure that your code follows this format:

[bank_country_code][space]bank_name[space]branch_code
 

3. Recipient details

Payment transactions require a BIC code from the beneficiary bank as well as from the sender’s bank. Banks will sometimes ask for more details, too. It’s important you enter these details correctly, or your transfer could be rejected — even if the SWIFT is valid.
 
 

What happens if you enter the wrong number?

If you enter the wrong SWIFT code, your transfer will be rejected. You’ll have to resubmit it with the right code, which means any fees associated with that process will need to be paid again. You also might have to wait for your funds to clear because they will return back into your account before you can use them again. To make matters worse, if there are any differences between the exchange rates at both ends of your transfer (which usually occurs), then you could lose money in this transaction as well.
 
 

Can you send a bank transfer without a SWIFT code?

Businesses and professionals are starting to adopt alternative methods to send funds globally, such as digital payment platforms or IBAN/SEPA for EU transfers. These are typically more convenient, quicker, and often less expensive than using a SWIFT code. With access to sophisticated payment technology, modern payment solutions like Veem allow business owners to send money globally online with minimal friction. For instance, when sending funds with Veem, the only information required is an email address, or you can choose to enter your recipient’s banking information for them, should you wish to do so. Check out how Veem works.
 
 

Conclusion

SWIFT/BIC codes play a vital role in international money transfers. These 8-11 digit codes help identify key information required to send a payment from one country to another, which means your transaction could fail should you ever make any mistakes when entering the payment information. You can minimize the likelihood of having your payments fail by looking for typing mistakes, incorrect formats and incorrect recipient details. Or you could eliminate the need to manually enter SWIFT codes entirely by adopting a solution like Veem. Ready to learn more about simplifying your business payment process? Book a demo with Veem to get started.
 
 

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* This blog provides general information and discussion about global business payments and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.