Published: 20 September 2018
If you transfer money to someone who has a bank account in Australia, you will need to know either their BIC/SWIFT code or their BSB Number.
But what are these codes and why are they needed?
The BIC/SWIFT code and BSB Number are both used to identify which bank the recipient holds an account with. The difference is that the BIC/SWIFT code is used when transferring the money internationally and the BSB Number is used when transferring the money domestically in Australia.
Unfortunately, sometimes someone based in Australia will provide you with their BSB Number even if you need to make an international transfer. If this happens, you can use a third-party transfer agency, like Instant Global Payments, to help. At Instant Global Payments we will let you do cross border payment with either type of bank details.
To process international payments, banks use the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT). SWIFT is a member-owned cooperative that links over 11,000 financial institutions across over 200 countries.
SWIFT issues each member with a unique Business Identifier Code (BIC) which can be used to identify which banks are involved in each transaction. Each BIC code is 8-characters or 11-characters long.
To process domestic payments, banks route payments through the New Payments Platform Australia (NPP). The NPPA uses the BSB code to determine which bank the recipient holds an account with; essentially the same as a BIC/SWIFT code except on a domestic level.
Historically, the Reserve Bank of Austalia (RBA) issued each bank with a unique code which can be used to identify that bank when processing transactions.
The BSB is a 6 digit code with the following structure