SWIFT / BIC Codes. SWIFT and SEPA Transfers and Cheaper Alternatives. – Financial Portal


Transfers in the SWIFT system

Transfers in the SWIFT system

The SWIFT code (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) / BIC (Business Identifier Code) / Bank Code is used to perform international transactions.

SWIFT / BIC / Bank Code codes are terms used interchangeably and in practice mean the same (SWIFT names are usually used in Poland, and BIC abroad – that’s why in the contacts with foreign partners you should use the name “BIC”), used to identify your bank recipient to whom a foreign transfer is sent. It consists of 8 or 11 non-accidental characters, which in turn means:

  • The first 4 characters are the unique identifier of the institution – eg WBKP in the case of Bank Zachodni WBK
  • The next 2 characters are the country code of the country to which the transfer is sent (in the case of Poland – PL, UK – GB, etc.)
  • The next 2 characters are the bank’s location code.
  • In the case of a 11-character code, the remaining 3 inform about the bank branch.

By means of the SWIFT transfer, we are able to execute a transaction to every bank in the world. The average waiting time for a transfer in the SWIFT system is up to 3 days and is associated with costs (commissions and currency conversion – which by their way can be high and depend on the bank, can range from PLN 20 – PLN 200). The transfer sender has 3 options to cover costs:

  • SHA – Fees of the bank sending the transfer are falling on the payer and on the payee’s bank on the payment receiver
  • OUR – All fees for sending and receiving a transfer fall on the client – this is the best option to get the recipient (beneficiary) exactly the amount we defined in the transfer.
  • BEN – All charges related to the operation are covered by the recipient

To send a transfer in the SWIFT system we need such information as:

  • Recipient’s data (name, surname, address)
  • IBAN – the recipient’s banking number, preceded by the country code in ISO format. Example : PL61109010140000071219812874 (transfer to Poland) or DE89370400440532013000 (transfer to Germany)
  • SWIFT / BIC code of the recipient’s bank
  • The name and address of the recipient’s bank

If we send money to you within the European Union (+ Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino), the best solution will be to use the SEPA transfer ( Single Euro Payments Area ), because in this case, the waiting time for the transfer is only 1 day, and the costs are much smaller, regardless of the amount of money sent.

SWIFT codes of Polish banks:

SWIFT codes of Polish banks:

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Transfers in the SEPA system

Transfers in the SEPA system

SEPA ( Single Euro Payments Area) – a solution created for simple, fast and cheap transfer of money within the European Union and several other economically-related countries (Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino). The currency valid in this system is EURO. The characteristics of SEPA transfers are:

  • Waiting time for transfer – 1 day
  • Currency valid in SEPA – EURO transfers
  • Lack of intermediary banks, thanks to which the transaction cost is lower (the execution of such a transfer in Polish banks is from 5 to 10 PLN)
  • The transfer fee is not deducted from the transferred amount and is public

From 2016, thanks to the SEPA regulation, to execute a direct debit in this system, we will only need:

  • The recipient’s details
  • Bank number in IBAN format

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Faster and cheaper alternatives for SWIFT and SEPA transfers

Faster and cheaper alternatives for SWIFT and SEPA transfers

There are many cheaper and faster ways to make international money transfers. They were created as alternatives to less-profitable traditional transfers (mainly SWIFT). Unfortunately, here the commission also occurs, although it is lower, or much lower, than in banks. For quick money transfers, we can include:

Sites offering online money transfers
The way these systems work is simple – We choose the currency in which we want to send money and the target currency. We transfer money in zlotys (or other currency) to the company’s bank account (by transfer, credit or debit card or quick payments), and then the funds are automatically converted to the recipient’s account
The most popular such systems include:

  • TransferGo – (payment for transfer to Poland is only € 0.99 / £ 0.99)
  • Azimo
  • FerPay


It is an online purse and can be credited using a transfer or a card, and then sent money to another user’s account. Transfers to friends / family are free of charge.

Exchange offices

As a rule, the most profitable option, because we also save on the so-called currency spread.

Money transfers

The principle of operation is also simple in this case. We pay cash at the point of the company dealing with messages, and our recipient pays money at the Post Office, at another cooperating institution, or also at the company point. The most popular are:

  • Western Union
  • MoneyGram
  • Sami Swoi

In summary, if you want to send money to the European Union and other members of the SEPA system, it is worth choosing this type of transfer, or online international transfers or online currency exchange offices.
If you want to transfer money to countries outside the EU, we recommend online transfers and currency exchange offices. Share:

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