SWIFT stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which you often use when making international payments, for example to Canada and other countries.

What is a SWIFT code?

A SWIFT code (also known as BIC - Business Identifier Code) is used by banks to process international transfers. It contains a series of reference numbers that help identify a specific bank when making or requesting an international payment.

SWIFT codes are formatted as follows: AAAA BB CC DDD

First 4 characters - bank code (only letters).

Next 2 characters - ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code (only letters)

Next 2 characters - location code, passive participant will have "1" in the second character (letters and digits)

Last 3 characters - branch code, optional - 'XXX' for primary office (letters and digits)

SWIFT codes have either 8 or 11 characters - letters and digits. When you see an 11 digit code, that refers to specific branches, while the 8 digit SWIFT/BIC codes (or those ending in 'XXX') refer to the head or primary office.

Each branch has a different SWIFT/BIC code:

Bank / Institution



SWIFT code

Bank of Montreal


International Branch


Royal Bank of Canada


Head Office


Bank of Nova Scotia


Scotia Plaza


Note: For more branch formats for SWIFT codes in Canada and other countries visit: https://www.theswiftcodes.com/canada/

Where can you find your vendor’s SWIFT code?

The SWIFT code will normally be added to the invoice sent by your vendor. If needed you can ask your vendor for their SWIFT code.

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