Difference Wiki

Sort Code vs. Swift Code: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sara Rehman || Published on December 11, 2023
Sort code is a bank code used in the UK and Ireland for identifying bank branches, while SWIFT code is a global bank identifier for international transactions.

Key Differences

A sort code is a unique identification number assigned to bank branches in the United Kingdom and Ireland, used primarily for domestic transactions. In contrast, a SWIFT code, also known as BIC (Bank Identifier Code), is an international standard for identifying banks worldwide, facilitating international wire transfers and messages.
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023
Sort codes are typically formatted as three pairs of numbers, e.g., 12-34-56, and are crucial for transactions within the UK banking system, like setting up direct debits or making transfers. Conversely, SWIFT codes are alphanumeric, containing both letters and numbers, generally 8 or 11 characters long, and are used to ensure that international transactions reach the correct bank.
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023
The sort code system is managed by the British and Irish banking industries. Each sort code uniquely identifies the bank and the branch where an account is held. In contrast, the SWIFT code system is overseen by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which provides a network for financial institutions globally to send and receive information about financial transactions.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 11, 2023
Sort codes are essential for the accuracy of domestic banking processes in the UK and Ireland, while SWIFT codes play a critical role in global finance, helping to reduce the risk of errors in international money transfers. SWIFT codes are used by banks in over 200 countries to securely and efficiently communicate.
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023
Sort codes are specific to the UK and Ireland's banking systems, aiding in the identification of bank branches for local transactions. SWIFT codes, however, are used globally, providing a standardized approach to identifying financial institutions for international financial communications and transactions.
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Geographical Use

Used in the UK and Ireland
Used worldwide
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023

Purpose

Identifies bank branches domestically
Identifies banks globally for international transactions
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023

Format

Numeric, formatted as XX-XX-XX
Alphanumeric, 8 or 11 characters long
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023

Management

Managed by the British and Irish banking industries
Managed by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT)
Harlon Moss
Dec 11, 2023

Role in Transactions

Essential for domestic banking processes like direct debits
Critical for global financial communications and international money transfers
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023
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Sort Code and Swift Code Definitions

Sort Code

Sort codes facilitate the routing of money transfers between banks domestically.
Please ensure you input the correct sort code to avoid transfer delays.
Sara Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Swift Code

SWIFT codes consist of 8 or 11 alphanumeric characters, representing the bank and its branch.
The SWIFT code BARCGB22 identifies Barclays Bank in the UK.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 27, 2023

Sort Code

Sort codes are used exclusively within the British and Irish banking networks.
For international transfers, you'll need a SWIFT code instead of a sort code.
Harlon Moss
Nov 27, 2023

Swift Code

SWIFT codes are used for various international transactions, including wire transfers and foreign exchange.
When sending money to Europe, I used the recipient bank's SWIFT code.
Janet White
Nov 27, 2023

Sort Code

A sort code is a six-digit number used in the UK and Ireland to identify bank branches.
My bank's sort code 20-20-20 represents its specific location in London.
Sara Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Swift Code

The SWIFT network provides the infrastructure for international bank communications.
Our bank uses the SWIFT network to send transaction instructions abroad.
Harlon Moss
Nov 27, 2023

Sort Code

Sort codes are integral to the UK's banking system, appearing in bank accounts and transaction details.
You can find your bank's sort code on the front page of your chequebook.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 27, 2023

Swift Code

A SWIFT code is a unique identifier for banks worldwide, used in international financial transactions.
You'll need the bank's SWIFT code for an overseas wire transfer.
Sara Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Sort Code

Each set of sort code digits typically represents a specific aspect of the bank branch.
The first two digits in the sort code indicate the bank's main office.
Sara Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Swift Code

The code is integral to the global financial system, facilitating secure communication between banks.
The SWIFT code ensures that your payment reaches the right bank internationally.
Sara Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

FAQs

Is SWIFT code used globally?

Yes, it's used for international bank identification.
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023

What is a sort code?

It's a six-digit number identifying bank branches in the UK and Ireland.
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023

Where is a sort code used?

In the UK and Ireland for domestic banking.
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023

What does a SWIFT code look like?

An 8 or 11-character alphanumeric code, e.g., CIBCCATT.
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023

What is a SWIFT code?

A global bank identifier used for international transactions.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 11, 2023

How is a sort code formatted?

As three pairs of numbers, like 23-45-67.
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023

Can sort codes be used for international transactions?

No, they're for domestic use in the UK and Ireland.
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023

Who manages sort codes?

The British and Irish banking industries.
Harlon Moss
Dec 11, 2023

Do all bank accounts have a sort code?

In the UK and Ireland, yes.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 11, 2023

How often do sort codes change?

Rarely, usually due to bank mergers or reorganizations.
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023

Can SWIFT codes change?

Occasionally, due to bank mergers or branch changes.
Harlon Moss
Dec 11, 2023

Are SWIFT codes necessary for all international transfers?

Yes, they're essential for routing international payments.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 11, 2023

Who oversees the SWIFT system?

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.
Harlon Moss
Dec 11, 2023

What's the primary use of sort codes?

For identifying bank branches domestically.
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023

Can I find a sort code on a cheque?

Yes, it's usually printed on chequebooks.
Harlon Moss
Dec 11, 2023

Is a SWIFT code the same as a BIC?

Yes, BIC (Bank Identifier Code) is another name for SWIFT code.
Harlon Moss
Dec 11, 2023

Do all banks have a SWIFT code?

Most banks involved in international transactions do.
Harlon Moss
Dec 11, 2023

Why are SWIFT codes important?

They ensure accurate international financial communications.
Janet White
Dec 11, 2023

Is a sort code needed for online banking?

Yes, for setting up payments and transfers.
Harlon Moss
Dec 11, 2023

Are SWIFT codes required for receiving international money?

Yes, to ensure the money reaches the correct bank.
Sara Rehman
Dec 11, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.
Edited by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.

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