Home SWIFT/BIC Codes How long does a SWIFT payment take?

How long does a SWIFT payment take?

SWIFT stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, and as a network, it does exactly what it says on the tin. As a cooperative, SWIFT has been communicating cross-border payments for almost 50 years, but how long does it take for these interbank messages to arrive at their destination? We take a look.

Updated: 06/05/2021
Read time: 3 minutes
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What is a SWIFT transfer?

The SWIFT network connects banks and financial institutions around the world, in every continent, in fact. First introduced in the 1970s, the SWIFT network is a ground-breaking global messaging platform which facilitates the sending and receiving of international money transfer instructions. SWIFT codes act as identifiers, and thanks to the widespread use of these codes, there is a way to safely and securely communicate the details of global transactions between countries and corporations.  

When will I need to make a SWIFT transfer?

The SWIFT network’s services are used by over 200 countries, so if you are making an international money transfer, it is highly likely that you will need to use a SWIFT code (or BIC). 

We strive to meet the needs of all our users; whether you are making an international bank transfer, wiring money from a credit card or using one of our recommended top 10 international money transfer companies, we want to help everyone understand when a SWIFT code is required.

Where do I find a SWIFT code?

Whether you are sending or receiving the payment, you may be asked for your SWIFT code, especially if you are arranging the transfer through your bank. Your BIC/SWIFT code can be found in the following places:

  • On your bank statements (paper or online) 
  • Listed in the information section of your online/mobile banking account
  • On your bank’s website information section or it can be requested over the phone/in-branch

How does a SWIFT transfer work? 

The financial infrastructure of the SWIFT network allows encrypted transfer instructions to travel between banks (or non-bank providers) notifying the corresponding of the details of the associated transactions. 

Want to know more?

Itching to educate yourself on all things SWIFT code and better understand how international money transfers are processed via the SWIFT network? Read our full guide…

How long does a SWIFT transfer take?

Once the payment is initiated, the details travel along SWIFT’s payment infrastructure, arriving at the first correspondent bank. The information is reviewed and processed, passing through any other intermediary banks before being deposited into the recipient’s bank account. At no point during this process is the money moved by the SWIFT network, the instructions to do so are simply communicated this way. 

Due to the involvement of (sometimes several) intermediary banks or financial institutions, SWIFT payments can take anywhere from 2 to 5 working days to be complete and reach their destination. 

The efficiency and speed of the transfer relies heavily on the cooperation of the correspondent and intermediary liaisons. 

How do I initiate a SWIFT transfer?

This depends on the international money transfer route you wish to employ to move your funds from A to B. We recommend using our comparison tool to review the best rates and transfer times available for the currency pairing and destination country of your money transfer. 

Once you know the method of transfer, you will need to present your chosen provider with the SWIFT code and any other information required to make the payment. 

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