What is an LEI number?

An LEI number is a 20-character code based on the ISO 17442 standard developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). An LEI number references important information that offers transparency when participating in financial transactions such as trading with stocks, bonds, or forex.

What information is identifiable with an LEI number?

The publicly available LEI data helps to identify legal entities clearly and thus provides more transparency in the global marketplace. An LEI number displays an entity’s legal name, the registry the entity is registered in, the registration number, legal jurisdiction, legal form, entity status, and contact details such as the entity’s legal address and headquarters address. This is classed as Level 1 data. It helps to understand who is who. An LEI number also contains information about an entity’s ownership structure. This is classed as Level 2 data. It helps to identify who owns the legal entity and also whom the entity owns.

According to the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF), an LEI number is designed to answer three critical questions when entering a corporate financial transaction:

  1. who is who
  2. who owns whom
  3. who owns what

These questions can be answered thanks to the Level 1 and parental (Level 2) data available in an LEI search.

Structure of an LEI number

LEI number is standardized with ISO certificate 17442 and consists of a combination of 20 numbers and letters.

  • Numbers 1-4 always show the ID of the LOU which issued the LEI
  • Numbers 5-6 always have a value of 0
  • Numbers or letters 7-18 are unique to each entity
  • Numbers 19-20 are for verification purposes
LEI number structure

Who needs an LEI number?

Legal Entity Identifiers are required by any legal entity that regularly incorporates financial transactions, including buying stocks, bonds, and other securities.

Financial institutions such as banks, investment and insurance companies, credit unions, and brokerages must obtain an LEI number. Investment firms and their clients in the EU are also required to have an LEI. EU authorities are instructed to refuse trades between investment firms and clients unless both sides have an LEI number.

Several industries are now required to apply for an LEI. Some jurisdictions also require legal entities to obtain an LEI to make them easily identifiable. Read more about who needs an LEI number.

Natural persons are an exception and DO NOT need an LEI number.

Simple terms

  • LEI number – legal entity identification number (also referred to as code)
  • A unique identification code for entities that trade in financial markets (stocks, bonds, futures, forex, etc.)
  • Every deal conducted in the markets will connect to the other counterpart with an LEI number
  • Used by regulators to oversee financial markets
  • Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF)
  • LEI connects financial markets, companies, and regulators
  • GLEIF-accredited LOUs conduct the issuing of an LEI number

Renewal of an LEI number

An LEI number needs an annual renewal. This means an LEI issued on 01/02/2024 must be renewed before 01/02/2025. If the deadline passes, your LEI will become inactive until renewed. It is necessary to renew LEI numbers to ensure that the data in the Global LEI Pool is relevant and up-to-date.

LEI Register offers the renewal of LEIs for a 1-, 3- or 5-year period. Whatever the period, you will receive a notification from us a month before your paid expiration date ends so you can renew your LEI in time. In case of a multiyear LEI renewal, LEI Register will update your data based on official company registries and renew the LEI number for you. We aim to keep your LEI data up-to-date and accurate.

An LEI number is all about connecting the dots

The vision of the GLEIF is to have one universal registration number for all legal entities around the globe. An LEI would provide standardized and high-quality reference data.

“We believe that, ultimately, there should be one identity behind every business. Having an LEI will help to achieve this objective.”

GLEIF – Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation

Who can issue an LEI number?

The GLEIF governs the issuance of LEIs but does not issue LEIs itself. LEIs are issued and managed by the GLEIF-accredited Local Operating Units (LOUs). LOUs act as a gateway for legal entities who wish to obtain an LEI number. A list of GLEIF-accredited LOUs can be found here.

LOUs partner with Registration Agents. LEI Register is an LEI Registration Agent. Our primary objective is to facilitate accurate and reliable information regarding the Global LEI System, LEI number registration, renewal, and transfer. We are dedicated to simplifying the processes of LEI application, transfer, and renewal. Additionally, we serve as an intermediary in communications between LOUs and entities seeking LEIs.

Furthermore, it should be emphasized that the success of an LEI Registration Agent is determined by their ability to offer excellent service and competitive pricing. Therefore, our approach is focused on putting the customer first.

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