Difference Between Sort Code and Swift Code (With Table)

Banks have been a great help for everyone around the world. With the growth of money and the bank along with the technology, individuals remain assured about the safety of their money.

Transferring money through banks has also been a great aid and time-saving for many across the world. But with a bank to bank transfers, came the risk of possible wrong transactions from happening.

Sort Code vs Swift Code

The difference between Sort Code and Swift Code is that Sort Code is used for only domestic transfer whereas the Swift Code is used for international safe transactions.

Sort Code is a 6 digit numeric code that is used for domestic transactions in England and parts of Ireland. These digits help to identify the bank and the branch for the transaction.

Swift Code is aa 11 digit alphanumeric code that is used for international transfer. These codes are used for identifying the bank and country of the branch. They also show the location and the branch but during primary transfers, the branch code can be omitted to make it an 8 digit code.

Comparison Table Between Sort Code and Swift Code

Parameters of ComparisonSort CodeSwift Code
MeaningIt is a code used in England and Ireland for identifying the bank and the branch.It is also a code that is used for bank transfer and for identifying the bank and the country.
UsageFor domestic transactions i.e., transactions within the country, it is better to use Sort Code.For a safe transaction of money when attempting internationally from British and Ireland.
LengthA Sort Code has 6 characters.A Swift Code can have 8 to 11 characters.
Type of Characters  They only have numeric characters.They have alphanumeric characters, unlike Sort Code.
DivisionThey are divided into three equal pairs for identifying the bank and the bank branch.They are divided into four parts and each part is used for identifying the bank and the country along with the location. But this can be omitted.

What is the Sort Code?

Sort Code can be defined as 6 numeric characters. These 6 characters represent a bank and the branch of the bank. They are used for domestic transfer in England and Ireland. Other countries also have similar codes, but they are known with different names.

This facilitates the safe transfer of money to the right bank and the required bank branch. Though this code is still used in England, it has been replaced in Ireland with the SEPA system and infrastructure. This 6-digits code was introduced in England during 1957 while the banking system developed through computers.

These 6 numeric characters are divided into 3 equal pairs of two digits. For example 12-23-34. In this code, the first pair ‘12’ represents the bank code or specifies the bank where the account is held. The last two codes ‘34’ represent the bank branch for proper transfer.

It is better not to use these codes for international transfer because these codes do not specify the country where the bank account is held. They are stored in IBANs but not in BICs.

What is the Swift Code?

Like the Sort Code, Swift Code is also a unique code that is configured with BIC (Bank Identifier Codes). This is used to identify not only the bank but also the country and the location of the bank. Generally, they are 8 to 11 alphanumeric codes.

These codes are used for the international transfer of money safely with the needed specifications of the bank with just the code. They are also used to send encrypted messages between banks and other financial institutions.

These 11 characters are divided into 4 parts. The first part with 4 letters identifies the bank, then the following 2 letters are used for identifying the country. The third alphanumeric set specifies the bank location along with the fourth alphanumeric set specifying the branch of the bank.

The last set of 3 alphanumeric characters can be omitted is the transfer is done through the primary office.

Main Differences Between Sort Code and Swift Code

  1. Sort Code is a code used in England and Ireland for identifying the bank and the branch of the bank for the transfer. Whereas, Swift Code is also a code used in England and Ireland. But they are used for identifying the bank, the location and the country of the branch.
  2. Since they are both codes for banks, they are used for bank transfers. The difference is Sort Code is used for domestic transactions. This means it is used for transfer within the country or region. But the Swift Code is used for the safety of the money transaction internationally.
  3. Sort Code has only 6 unique characters for each bank and branch. The characters would differ depending on the bank or the branch of the bank. The Swift Code consists of 8 to 11 codes depending on the bank, country and the usage of it.
  4. Sort Code having 6 characters are all consisted of numeric type characters only. On the other hand, the 8 to 11 characters of the Swift Code consist of alphanumeric type characters.
  5. Both the codes have divisions and each part signifies the bank and the details of it. The Sort Code is divided into three equal parts with the first part signifies the bank and the last two signifies the branch. In the case of Swift Code, the 11 characters are divided into four divisions with even the location of the bank having a code. But during some transactions, this part can be omitted.

Conclusion

Swift Code and Sort Code are codes used for bank transfers and identification of banks along with their specifications.

Sort Codes are used for domestic transactions within England and a few parts of Ireland. In Ireland, Sort Codes have been replaced with the SEPA system. The Sort Codes are registered with the IBANs.

Swift Codes are used for international transfer and are registered with BIC. They have 11 characters but in a few cases, the last three digits can be omitted making it an 8-digits code.

It is important to know the difference between Swift Code and Sort Code as it is important to use the right code during transactions.

References

  1. http://www.cs.nott.ac.uk/~pszrq/PlanSIG/PlanSIG2006Registration.pdf
  2. https://www.karger.com/Article/PDF/235634