Sort Code vs Swift Code: Difference and Comparison

Banks have been a great help to everyone around the world. With the growth of money and the bank, along with 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 worldwide. But with a bank to bank transfers came the risk of possible wrong transactions happening.

Key Takeaways

  1. Sort Code and Swift Code are banking codes used to identify specific financial institutions and facilitate international transactions.
  2. Sort Code is a six-digit number used in the UK and Ireland, while Swift Code is an alphanumeric code used globally.
  3. While Sort Code is used for domestic transactions, Swift Code is necessary for international transactions and can be used for incoming and outgoing transfers.

Sort Code vs Swift Code

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

Sort Code vs Swift Code

Banking Quiz

Test your knowledge about topics related to banking

1 / 10

Which of the following is not a secured loan?

2 / 10

What is the full form of ATM?

3 / 10

How does PayPal work?

4 / 10

What type of account is a mix between a savings and checking account?

5 / 10

What is an E-wallet?

6 / 10

What is the name of the type of account where you deposit money regularly and earn interest on the balance?

7 / 10

What is the name of the type of loan where the borrower can use the loan proceeds for any purpose, without specifying the end use of the funds?

8 / 10

The interest rate at which commercial banks can borrow money from the central bank is known as

9 / 10

What is a balance transfer in the context of credit cards?

10 / 10

Which of the following is a type of loan provided by banks?

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Sort Code is a 6-digit numeric code 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 an 11-digit alphanumeric code that is used for international transfers. These codes are used for identifying the bank and country of the branch. They also show the location and the branch, but the branch code can be omitted during primary transfers to make it an 8-digit code.

Comparison Table

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 used for bank transfers and 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 are known by 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 with the SEPA system and infrastructure in Ireland.

This 6-digit code was introduced in England in 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 transfers because they do not specify the country where the bank account is held. They are stored in IBANs but not in BICs.

sort code

What is the Swift Code?

Like the Sort Code, Swift Code is a unique code configured with BIC (Bank Identifier Codes). This is used to identify the bank, the country, and the bank’s location. 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 also 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; the following 2 letters are used to identify the country. The third alphanumeric set specifies the bank location, and the fourth alphanumeric set specifies the bank branch.

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

swift code

Main Differences Between Sort Code and Swift Code

  1. Sort Code is used in England and Ireland to identify the bank and bank branches for the transfer. At the same time, 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 internationally for the money transaction’s safety.
  3. Sort Code has only 6 unique characters for each bank and branch. The characters would differ depending on the bank or the bank branch. The Swift Code consists of 8 to 11 codes depending on the bank, country and usage.
  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 codes have divisions, and each part signifies the bank and its details. The Sort Code is divided into three equal parts: 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 bank’s location having a code. But during some transactions, this part can be omitted.

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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25 thoughts on “Sort Code vs Swift Code: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The detailed explanation of the Sort Code and Swift Code furnishes valuable knowledge, enabling readers to comprehend their specific roles effectively.

  2. Sort Code and Swift Code, though distinct in their applications, share the common objective of ensuring the accuracy and security of financial transactions.

    1. True. Both codes are pivotal in maintaining the integrity of transactions, whether within a country or across international borders.

  3. The explanation of Sort Code and Swift Code provides valuable insights into the mechanisms of domestic and international financial transactions.

    1. Agreed. Understanding the key differences between the two codes is crucial for anyone dealing with financial transfers.

  4. Banks have played a vital role in ensuring the security and efficiency of financial transactions, both domestically and internationally.

    1. However, it’s important to acknowledge that banks also face various challenges and risks that need to be addressed to maintain their effectiveness.

  5. The comparative analysis of Sort Code and Swift Code supplies a comprehensive understanding of their functions and importance in banking.

    1. Precisely. The information provided proves to be instrumental in demystifying the complexities associated with these banking codes.

    1. But we must also be aware of the potential pitfalls involving wrong transactions, as mentioned in the article.

  6. The evolution of banking codes exemplifies the continuous refinement and enhancement of global financial systems over time.

    1. Absolutely. The adaptability and sophistication of these codes reflect the progress and innovation in the banking sector.

  7. Sort Code and Swift Code serve distinct purposes in facilitating financial transfers, tailored to domestic and international contexts.

    1. Avatar of Kimberly Cooper
      Kimberly Cooper

      Indeed, the article effectively highlights the nuanced differences between these codes, shedding light on their unique functionalities.

  8. The article delivers comprehensive insights into the pivotal roles of Sort Code and Swift Code in the realm of banking and financial transactions.

    1. Indeed. The clarity provided in the article accentuates the importance of understanding these codes for anyone involved in financial transactions.

  9. The fundamental differences between Sort Code and Swift Code elucidate the essential distinctions required for precise financial transfers.

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