Difference between Swift Code and Routing Number

Key Difference: SWIFT code is a short for an even longer acronym known as SWIFT/BIC - Society for Worldwide Inter-bank Financial Telecommunication/ Bank Identifier Code. SWIFT code is a code that is assigned to an institution that acts as the institution’s identity in the foreign market. Routing number is made up of nine digits and is used to identify a financial institution in domestic market.

Routing numbers and SWIFT codes, both are used in context to banking system. Swift code and routing numbers may look similar as both define the identity of an institution especially a financial institution. Therefore, sometimes they both are considered the same thing. However, they are similar in the context to identification of a financial institution but differ on the scale of usage. SWIFT codes are used in international transactions, whereas routing numbers are used in domestic transactions.

SWIFT code is a short for an even longer acronym known as SWIFT/BIC - Society for Worldwide Inter-bank Financial Telecommunication/ Bank Identifier Code. This code was established in 1973 in Brussels as an identifier code. This code is assigned to both financial and non-financial institutions. When assigned to a business, it may also be known as a BEI or Business Entity Identifier. The purpose of this code is to allow easy transference of money between banks, specifically from one country to another. In addition to money, the banks also communicate with each other using this code and it can sometimes be found on bank statements.

SWIFT can also supply software and other services to banks and other financial institutions. The SWIFT code acts as the identity of the bank when it sends or receives a transaction. The code lets the other institutions know three main things the name of the bank, where the head office is located. For example the SWIFT code for the primary office of Deutsche Bank would be DEUTDEFF. The code is made up of:

DEUT – for Deutsche Bank

DE – for Germany, the country where the headquarters are located

FF – for Frankfurt, the city where the headquarters are located

The code is usually made up of 8-11 characters and is commonly made up such as the example given above: the name of the company and the city and country of the headquarters. This SWIFT code easily helps the institutions recognize each other. A person that is sending or receiving money from one country to another is commonly asked for the SWIFT code of the bank from which it is sending/receiving the money.

Routing numbers are also referred as routing transit number. It is made up of nine digits and is used to identify a financial institution in various domestic transactions. It is commonly used in transactions like ACH and wire transfers. One can easily find the routing numbers on the bottom of checks. There are various banking websites which can also be referred to enquire about the routing numbers of the financial institutions. It generally precedes the account number at the bottom left of the check.

The apparent difference is about the format. For example, routing number for city national bank of America is:

122016066

SWIFT code fro the same bank is:

CINAUS6L

Thus, we can easily identify an alphanumeric code as SWIFT code that is an 8 or 11 characters long, whereas the routing number is made up of 9 digits. The differences are summed up in a table below:

 

Swift Code

Routing Number

Definition

SWIFT code is a code that is assigned to an institution that acts as the institution’s identity in the foreign market

It is made up of nine digits and is used to identify a financial institution in various transactions

Usage

At the time of international transfers

At the time of domestic transfers

Identifier

Of a bank on international ground

Of a bank in the national level

Example

CINAUS6L

 

122016066

Image Courtesy: bankkhojo.com, nstarbank.com

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