SWIFT stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication which is approved by the International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO). SWIFT codes are generally used for international wire transfers and is an internationally accepted identification code for banks across the world. SWIFT provides a network that enables financial institutions around the world to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardised and reliable way. SWIFT is also known as Bank Identifier Code (BIC).
SWIFT codes are usually 8 alphanumeric characters starting with 4-digit bank code followed by 2-digit country code and 2-digit location code. Sometimes SWIFT code could be 11 digits. The pattern would be the same however there would be an additional 3 digit at the end; which indicates branch code.
Your bank account statement may display your SWIFT code or there are ample options in the internet to find the SWIFT code of your beneficiary branch. Every bank branch may not have a SWIFT code, mostly only major branches have. Some of the financial institutions may not even have a SWIFT code of their own; in those cases, they use intermediaries to receive money.
SORT code is a code prevalent in England and Ireland; they are used to identify banks located within the country and their respective branches. SORT code is a 6-digit number of which each 2 digits are separated by a hyphen (for eg. 67-54-23). The first 2 digit identifies the bank while the last 4 digits are used internally within the bank to identify different branches. Unlike SWIFT codes, SORT codes are numerical and are not unified. For international money transfer it is always advisable to use SWIFT code. It is easy to identify if the code you have is a SWIFT code or a SORT code as SWIFT is usually 8 to 11 characters whereas SORT is a 6-digit number.
A Routing Number, also referred to as RTN or Routing Transit Number or ABA Routing Number or Fedwire Number is a 9-digit code that is used by financial institutions in the United States to identify themselves. An RTN can be found at the bottom of your cheque. Routing number helps to identify banks when processing domestic payments. The difference is that the BIC/SWIFT code is used when transferring money internationally and the ABA routing number is used when transferring the money domestically in the United States of America.