LEI (Legal Entity Identifier) is a global identifier designed for the unambiguous, credible and unique identification of distinct Legal Entities participating in transactions across global markets.
In its most simplistic sense, an LEI is a 20-character code based on the ISO 17442 standard. For example, the LEI code for the European Central Bank reads:
The LEI code provides the most fundamental information about a Legal Entity by answering two basic questions concerning the entity: “who is who” and “who owns whom”.
Once assigned, an LEI code is bound to that legal entity for its entire existence on the market.
Despite its simplicity, the LEI code holds tremendous importance for the transparency of financial markets and for all KYC (Know Your Customer) based business decisions (such as client on-boarding) in the world of finance and beyond.
The transparency of the market was, and still remains, the primary goal sought by market regulators. After the 2008 financial meltdown, it became clear that the identification of parties involved in financial transactions – transcending the boundaries of markets, countries, states and regions – has a fundamental importance for the stability of the global financial system. This realisation reached the attention of the participants of the G20 forum of governments and central banks, culminating in 2011 when the forum commissioned the FSB (Financial Stability Board) to execute an initial plan for the creation of the LEI system. By the following year’s G20 Summit in Los Cabos, the FSB’s recommendations for the system had been produced and officially accepted. By November 2012, the LEI ROC (LEI Regulatory Oversight Committee) was created, following the actions of the FSB and G20 central banks and finance ministers’ offices. LEI ROC started its activity in January of 2013. One year later, the FSB founded the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) as the institution dedicated to upholding the integrity and implementation of the LEI system.
LEI codes are now issued by Local Operating Units (LOUs) accredited by the GLEIF. As of today, there are more than million LEIs issued by 30 LOUs.
While the market’s transparency is primarily of interest to its regulators, the “Know-Your-Customer” applications of the LEI system remain important for a much wider audience. The Global LEI System can be used today by almost all businesses that are concerned with the proper identification of their transaction counterparties. In this role, the LEI system forms a global directory where anybody can confirm the identity of the parties involved in a transaction.
The LEI system is capable of supplementing, and in some cases, replacing manifolds of other, frequently diverse identification systems such as the EIN in the US, VAT in the EU or payment IDs like BIC, as well as many others.
This portal (LEI.INFO) has been invented to deliver a consistent, global RESOLUTION mechanism for the LEI system. The mechanism allows for the seamless conversion of the LEI Code into meaningful data for both humans and software applications. In addition, this mechanism offers many other tools that will help you to use LEI system-data easily and efficiently. Read more about it on “Our Mission” page.
Apart from the main portal features, we also publish the fundamental information necessary to understand and engage with the Global LEI System.