South African Banks Universal Branch Codes

Universal branch codes may be required when making payments for a business or in a personal capacity. This also applies […]

Universal branch codes

Universal branch codes may be required when making payments for a business or in a personal capacity. This also applies to getting paid or sending money to a client. Codes are important when making payments or receiving funds into a bank account because they assist in allocating funds to a specific bank.

Each bank account has its own branch code; however, to facilitate transactions, a universal bank code exists as a unified representation of a bank’s branch code. Obtaining a branch code can be difficult; there was a time when a branch code was required when listing payment or receipt details, and locating the code was difficult.

We define and explain each concept below to help you understand the difference between a universal code and a branch code. 

What is a bank branch code? 

A bank branch code is a six-number code used to identify the location of each bank branch. A branch code is used to identify the name of a bank branch so that transactions can be routed to the correct location.

A Branch Code is also used to detect fraudulent or stolen payment cards and to protect against identity theft. A processing institution can identify the specific branch where the account was opened and can assist in verifying the account holder’s information.

A branch code used to appear on the front of a credit or debit card, making it simple for account holders to check their branch code whenever necessary. However, card issuers no longer print the branch code on the face of a bank card.

What is a universal branch code? 

A universal branch code is a bank code that can be used at all of the bank’s branch locations. The universal branch code makes an account holder’s life easier by providing a uniform branch code for all bank branches; thus, the code can be used for any branch regardless of where the account was opened.

There is no longer any need to request payment with a branch code because a universal code can be used instead. When making payments, a universal code can be used across many platforms, whether online, in person, or at another bank’s branch.

All of South Africa’s major banks have their own unique universal branch code that can be used. Furthermore, banks in South Africa tend to assign a universal branch code to all online bank accounts.

The universal branch codes of South African banks are listed below.

List of universal branch codes of banks in South Africa 

Name of the BankUniversal Branch Code
Absa Bank632 005
African Bank430 000
Bank of Athens410 506
Bank Zero888 000
Barclays Bank590 000
Bidvest Bank462 005
Capitec Bank470 010
Discovery Bank 679 000
First National Bank 250 655
FirstRand Bank Ltd201 419
Grindrod Bank223 626
HSBC Bank 587 000
Investec 580 105
Mercantile Bank450 905
Nedbank 198 765
Old Mutual 462 005
PEP Bank400 005
Permanent Bank760 005
Rand Merchant Bank261 251
RMB Private Bank222 026
Sasfin Bank683 000
SA Post Office Bank460 005
Standard Chartered Bank730 020
Standard Bank of South Africa 051 001
Tyme Bank 678 910

FAQ for South African Banks Universal Branch Codes

  1. What are Universal Branch Codes?

Universal Branch Codes, also known as Generic Branch Codes, are unique identifiers assigned to banks in South Africa. These codes consist of 6-digit numbers and are used for electronic funds transfers (EFTs) and other banking transactions to identify the specific bank involved in the transaction without needing to reference an individual branch.

  1. Why are Universal Branch Codes used?

Universal Branch Codes simplify electronic banking transactions by providing a single code for each bank, rather than using individual branch-specific codes. This makes it easier and more efficient to process transactions, reducing the likelihood of errors due to incorrect or missing branch codes.

  1. Are Universal Branch Codes the same as BIC or SWIFT codes?

No, Universal Branch Codes are not the same as BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) codes. While Universal Branch Codes identify banks within South Africa for domestic transactions, BIC/SWIFT codes are used for international transactions and identify specific banks and branches worldwide.

  1. How do I find the Universal Branch Code for a South African bank?

Universal Branch Codes for major South African banks are widely available online. You can find them on the respective bank’s official website, by contacting the bank’s customer service, or through various financial websites that list these codes.

  1. Can I use a Universal Branch Code for international transactions?

No, Universal Branch Codes are used for domestic transactions within South Africa. For international transactions, you will need to use the BIC/SWIFT code of the specific bank and branch involved in the transaction.

  1. Are Universal Branch Codes the same for all branches of a specific bank?

Yes, each bank has a unique Universal Branch Code that applies to all its branches within South Africa. This code is used for electronic banking transactions, regardless of the specific branch involved.

  1. Is it safe to share my bank’s Universal Branch Code?

Yes, it is safe to share your bank’s Universal Branch Code. These codes are public information and are used to identify banks during electronic transactions. However, never share your personal banking information, such as account number, PIN, or password, with anyone.

  1. Can I find a specific branch using a Universal Branch Code?

No, Universal Branch Codes do not provide information about individual branches. They only identify the bank as a whole. If you need information about a specific branch, you will need to use the branch-specific code or contact the bank directly.

  1. Are Universal Branch Codes unique to South African banks?

Yes, the concept of Universal Branch Codes is unique to South African banks. Other countries may have their own systems for identifying banks and branches during domestic transactions, such as routing numbers in the United States.

  1. What happens if I use the wrong Universal Branch Code during a transaction?

Using the wrong Universal Branch Code during a transaction may result in delays, errors, or the transaction being rejected altogether. Always double-check the Universal Branch Code before initiating any electronic banking transaction to avoid potential issues.

Conclusion 

A universal branch code makes it simple to transact in South Africa. Today, when opening a bank account online, the account comes with a universal branch code as the default code. Universal branch codes have simplified transactions because one can now use a single code for a specific bank even if that person has multiple bank accounts opened in different bank branches.

Universal Branch Codes should not be confused with Swift codes, as they serve different purposes. When transacting internationally, a swift code is used, and each South African bank has its own Swift code. As a result, when conducting international transactions, avoid conflating a Universal code and a Swift code.