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ISO 17442 – Standard for LEI code structure

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a global, independent, non-governmental standard development organization, composed of representatives from the national standards organizations of member countries. These standards are formulas for doing something- they can be about making products, managing processes, or delivering services – covering a huge range of activities.

ISO 17442: The LEI Code Structure

The Global Legal Entity Identifier System (GLEIS) is designed to uniquely and unambiguously identify participants in financial transactions.

The ISO 17442 standard defines a set of attributes or legal entity reference data that are the most essential elements of identification. The Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) code is neutral, without embedded intelligence or country codes that could create unnecessary complexity for us, the users.

The LEI is designed for automated processing. It can also be conveniently used in other media interchange when appropriate.

The four key principles that underlie LEI are:

  1. It is a global standard.
  2. A single, unique identifier will get assigned to each legal entity.
  3. It is supported by high data quality.
  4. It is a public good, available free of charge to everyone.

Once a legal entity has obtained an LEI, it will be published together with the related LEI reference data. This means the full data on the entire LEI population is publicly available for unrestricted use to any interested party whenever.


ISO 17442 standard – reference data

The ISO 17442 standard specifies the minimum reference data, which must be provided for each LEI:

  • The official name of the legal entity, as recorded in the official registers.
  • The registered address of that legal entity.
  • The country of formation.
  • The codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions.
  • The date of the first LEI assignment; the date of the last update of the LEI information; and the date of expiry (if applicable).

LEI code format

The LEI is always a unique 20-digit alphanumeric code, that follows the structure laid out below.

Characters 1-4
As seen in the LEI Code example, the first 4 digits are the Local Operating Unit (LOU) Identifier. This identifies the source from where the LEI code was issued.
Characters 5-6
The following two, are the LEI reserved digits. In every LEI number format, they always remain 0,0.
Characters 7-18
This Entity Identifier section of the LEI number is unique and different for every Legal Entity. The Alphanumeric section can identify each and every registered trader on the Global database.
Characters 19-20
The final two digits serve to check whether or not the legal entity number is compliant as outlined by the ISO 17442 standard, as you can see in the sample LEI above.