A BIC (Bank Identification Code) is an identifier that is assigned to all SWIFT FIN-connected
financial institutions. It can also be used to identify other financial institutions, not connected to
the SWIFT FIN network. The scope of this code has been extended to identify non-financial
organisations as well, including corporates. When assigned to a non-financial institution the code
is called a BEI (Business Entity Identifier). Like a financial institution BIC, a non-financial
institution BEI can be connected to the SWIFT FIN network or not.
The difference between financial institutions and non-financial institutions becomes particularly
important when a party in a transaction is identified. A financial institution can typically service
accounts and own accounts. A non-financial institution (for example, corporate) can only own
accounts. This is a key difference in any message that implies settlement of funds. This is also
the reason why in all SWIFT FIN standards messages, some fields may contain a BIC or a BEI,
whilst other fields are restricted to BIC only, or to BEI only.
Corporates receive a BEI. Such a BEI is fully registered in the BIC database. The SWIFT FIN