If you have sent a SWIFT transfer and the receiver haven't received it in 3 days, the first thing you should ask your bank - SWIFT MT103 Form. Bank can call it in different ways like “transfer details”, “transfer receipt”, “transfer confirmation”, but in most cases it is a MT103 form which is sent over SWIFT channels.
What is SWIFT MT103 Form?
It is a detailed document that is generated when you complete an international SWIFT transfer at your bank. It acts as a confirmation of payment made from your bank and informs the beneficiary's bank of all the details of the transaction, including any fees applied. Well, at least it supposed to inform beneficiary's bank, because sometimes it can stuck in the intermediary banks.
MT103 is a pretty old-fashioned document structure created in the old good days when COBOL programming language was the king. Now S.W.I.F.T. promise to replace it with modern XML-based structure based on ISO 20022 format, but so far we only traditional MT103 around.
How Does MT103 Form Look Like?
It can be provided on the official template of the bank with the logo, however sometimes it could look like a TXT file extract from the SWIFT-systems. It doesn't really matter. What is important to understand the meaning of the fields.
Here on the example you can see the SWIFT-transfer from Montenegrian bank Hipotekarna. They email automatically this form when the payment has been processed.
First look at the right side - the receiver of this form is RZBAATWWXXX. While you can assume that this is a bank of beneficiary, it's not really true. This is the correspondent bank for EUR transfers for Hipotekarna. It's not a general rule, but very often in the header you do see the correspondent bank and it could be very useful.
In the User Header section you can see the field :121: with UETR code. It is not mandatory to have it in MT103 form, but you are lucky if you have one. It is always in the same format: XXXXXXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXXXXXXX.
UETR code is the only universal identifier of each SWIFT transaction. Universal because it is not changed via the whole path of transaction and if you can ask any bank in the chain where is it theoretically speaking they can track it.
In the field 20 you can see a Transaction Reference Number. Often it called Sender's Reference Number. Each bank in the chain assigns it's own Reference Number. While UETR code is more universal, sometimes it is enough to have a Sender's Reference Number in order to track the payment. It is also more convenient when you call to the bank - I hate this exercise, you need to make up a name for each letter:
A like an Apple
T like Thomas
P like Potato
Sometimes after 5th letter I have no more creativity, so I recommend everyone who have the same issues, to be prepared for the call with the bank and create all the names in advance.
So, why sender's reference is more convenient? Usually it is shorter, so you don't need to create too much names :)
Value and Date
In the field 32A you can see the amount, currency and the date of the transaction. Please make sure you read the date correctly, usually it is formatted as YYMMDD. So in this example 5220 euros have been sent on 2nd of November 2022. When you speak with the bank they usually refer to this data as:
- Value Amount or Sender's Amount
- Value Date
- Sender's Currency
In the field 50K you can see the details of the sender - his/her account number, name and address.
In the field 57A you can see the beneficiary's bank SWIFT/BIC code.
Why Do You need SWIFT MT103 Form?
Well, if you have sent your SWIFT transfer and it was not credited to beneficiary in a normal time, like in 3 business days, you have to do something about it, especially if you are in a hurry. One of the first actions which you can do - ask beneficiary to go to his/her bank and ask if they see this transaction. But it could be challenging for the bank to identify it without details. So give them MT103 form, you will simplify their life.
You can also try to track SWIFT payment and you will need data from MT103 form like UETR code or payment reference, date, amount, currency. Most probably you won't see the exact bank where transfer is at this moment, however you can check if it was rejected or not, and also check if there any update was since last time you've checked.
Follow our blog and in the next article I will explain how to investigate the SWIFT transfer if banks don't help you.
Stay informed on cross-border payments! Follow me on Twitter for the latest news and trends.