Business identifier code
Business identifier code, also known as the BIC, is a unique identification code for a particular institution or a part of it. It was originally called the bank identifier code.
BICs follow the standards set out in ISO 9362:2009, the 3rd edition issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
SWIFT, in its role of ISO Registration Authority, issues BICs to financial and non-financial institutions connected to the SWIFT network, as well as to non-connected institutions.
The BIC is used in financial transactions, exchange of messages between institutions, client and counterparty databases, compliance documents and many others.
BICs are 8 (BIC8) or 11 (BIC11) alphanumeric character strings and have no spaces in the strings.
BIC8s can be taken as referring to the principal office.
- The first 4 characters are alphabetic and identify the institution and are often referred to as the institution code.
- Characters 5-6 are two character alphabetic country codes from ISO 3166-1 to identify where the institution is located.
- Characters 7-8, that may be alphabetic or numeric, make this more precise, identifying a region or a city for example. They are often called the location code.
BIC11s add 3 alphabetic characters to be more specific - a department or a physical branch for example and these three characters are often called the branch code.
As an example of how it works in practice, and taking a non-bank, Diageo plc's London HQ has BIC8: DIAGGB2L. Its Warwick branch, called "Reverse Billing", has DIAGGB2LCTB.