Difference Wiki

Swift Code vs. ABA Number: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Published on December 9, 2023
SWIFT Code refers to international identification code for banks in financial transactions. ABA Number refers to U.S.-specific bank routing number for domestic transactions.

Key Differences

A SWIFT code, also known as a Bank Identifier Code (BIC), is used in international bank transactions to identify specific banks globally. It is an 8-11 character long alphanumeric code. In contrast, an ABA number, commonly known as a routing number, is a 9-digit code used primarily in the United States for identifying financial institutions in domestic transactions.
The SWIFT code facilitates cross-border and international payments by providing a standard format for Business Identifier Codes. It is essential for wire transfers and international trade. On the other hand, the ABA number is crucial for domestic money transfers within the U.S., including direct deposits, bill payments, and check processing.
SWIFT codes are managed and issued by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, ensuring uniformity in international finance. Conversely, ABA numbers are overseen by the American Bankers Association, reflecting their primary focus on the U.S. banking system.
SWIFT codes are required when sending money internationally, helping to reduce errors and ensure the funds reach the correct destination. The ABA number, however, is necessary for routing funds between U.S. banks, making it a key component of the national banking infrastructure.
SWIFT codes are integral to global financial communications, aiding in identifying banks internationally, while ABA numbers cater to the domestic needs of the U.S. banking system, identifying U.S. banks for local transactions.

Comparison Chart

Primary Use

International transactions
Domestic U.S. transactions

Length and Composition

8-11 alphanumeric characters
9 numeric digits

Managed By

Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication
American Bankers Association

Global vs. Local

Global banking identifier
U.S. specific banking identifier

Transaction Type

Wire transfers, international payments
Direct deposits, bill payments, check processing in the U.S.

Swift Code and ABA Number Definitions

Swift Code

International bank code for identifying financial institutions.
The SWIFT code for the bank in France is necessary for this international wire transfer.

ABA Number

Essential for processing checks and electronic payments in the U.S.
The utility bill payment requires the bank's ABA number for electronic processing.

Swift Code

An alphanumeric code used in global financial communications.
The invoice includes the SWIFT code to facilitate international payment.

ABA Number

Nine-digit code for U.S. bank transactions.
Her check has the bank's ABA number printed at the bottom.

Swift Code

Essential code for international wire transfers.
Without the correct SWIFT code, the money transfer cannot be completed.

ABA Number

A numeric code identifying U.S. financial institutions.
The ABA number is needed to route the payment to the correct U.S. bank.

Swift Code

A unique identifier for banks in cross-border transactions.
Each bank has a unique SWIFT code that distinguishes it in international finance.

ABA Number

Managed by the American Bankers Association.
The American Bankers Association assigns the ABA number to each U.S. bank.

Swift Code

A standard format for Business Identifier Codes in banking.
Please provide the SWIFT code of your bank for processing the payment.

ABA Number

A routing number for domestic transactions within the U.S.
Ensure you have the correct ABA number for setting up the direct deposit.


Can SWIFT codes be used for domestic transactions?

No, they are primarily for international transactions.

Who manages ABA numbers?

The American Bankers Association.

Is the SWIFT code the same for all branches of a bank?

No, different branches can have different codes.

What is a SWIFT code used for?

For identifying banks in international financial transactions.

Is a SWIFT code the same as a BIC?

Yes, BIC is another term for SWIFT code.

How long is a SWIFT code?

8-11 alphanumeric characters.

Is an ABA number used internationally?

No, it's used for domestic U.S. transactions only.

Are SWIFT codes unique to each bank?

Yes, each bank has a unique SWIFT code.

How many digits are in an ABA number?

There are 9 digits in an ABA number.

Do all banks have a SWIFT code?

Only banks involved in international transactions.

What does an ABA number identify?

It identifies U.S. financial institutions in domestic transactions.

Where can I find a bank's SWIFT code?

On the bank's website or through customer service.

Can I find a bank's ABA number online?

Yes, on the bank's website or financial documents.

Does the SWIFT code include country and location information?

Yes, it contains country and city codes.

Are ABA numbers used for electronic payments?

Yes, for domestic electronic transactions.

Is the ABA number the same for all branches of a bank?

Generally, yes, especially for large banks.

Are ABA numbers required for wire transfers within the U.S.?

Yes, for domestic wire transfers.

Is the ABA number required for check processing?

Yes, it's necessary for routing checks.

Can SWIFT and ABA numbers be used interchangeably?

No, they serve different purposes and regions.

Can I use a SWIFT code for transactions within the U.S.?

It's not typically used for domestic transactions.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons