Navigating the World of Legal Entity Identifiers: A Comprehensive Guide

Last updated on May 9th, 2024 at 09:39 am


Nowadays, the need for transparency and standardized identification of entities is more important than ever. Consequently, Legal Entity Identifiers have emerged as a critical tool to facilitate efficient communication and reporting in the financial sector.

This article will provide a comprehensive guide to understanding LEIs, their importance, and how they are used.

Moreover, service providers such as LEI-Lookup makes the whole process of understanding this tool easier. Hence, you can also refer to these websites for further information.


The financial crisis of 2008 underscored the need for better identification and tracking of financial transactions across global markets.

In response, regulatory authorities and market participants collaborated to create a unique identification system for legal entities.

The Legal Entity Identifier was born, providing a standardized code for entities involved in financial transactions worldwide.

Decoding LEI

An LEI is a 20-character code based on the ISO 17442 standard, designed to identify a legal entity. The code consists of the following components.

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A. 4-character prefix: Assigned by the Global LEI Foundation (GLEIF), this prefix identifies the Local Operating Unit (LOU) that issued the LEI.

B. Characters 5-18: These 14 characters form a unique reference code for the entity, generated using a random alphanumeric sequence.

C. Characters 19-20: The last two characters serve as a check digit, calculated using a specific algorithm based on the previous 18 characters.

These parts create a unique identifier to identify and track legal entities across borders quickly.

Importance of LEIs in Today’s Financial World

LEIs have become an essential tool for several reasons.

A. Enhanced Transparency

The code enables regulators and market participants to accurately identify entities involved in financial transactions, reducing the risk of confusion, fraud, and market abuse.

B. Streamlined Reporting

It simplifies the reporting process for entities by providing a single, unique identifier for each organization. This reduces the administrative burden on entities and ensures more accurate reporting.

C. Improved Risk Management

By providing a comprehensive view of an entity’s relationships and exposures, LEIs help institutions better manage their risk, making it easier to comply with regulatory requirements.

D. Facilitating Cross-border Transactions

With a global, standardized system, LEIs make it easier for organizations to conduct business across borders, improving efficiency and reducing costs.

Obtaining the code

An entity must apply through a Local Operating Unit to obtain an LEI. LOUs are responsible for issuing Legal Entity Identifiers and maintaining the data associated with each code. Moreover, you can also refer to services such as LEI-Lookup for any doubts.

The application process typically includes the following steps.

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A. Select an LOU:

Entities can choose an LOU from a list of approved providers maintained by the GLEIF.

B. Complete the Application:

Entities must provide basic information, such as their legal name, jurisdiction, and address, as well as details about their direct and ultimate parent companies (if applicable).

C. Pay the Required Fee:

LOUs charge a fee for issuing and maintaining an LEI, which can vary depending on the provider.

D. Receive the LEI:

Once the application is approved, the entity will receive its unique code.

Maintaining LEI

Legal Entity Identifiers must be renewed annually to ensure the information associated with each identifier remains accurate and up-to-date.

Entities are responsible for providing updated information to their LOU and paying the required maintenance fee.

Failure to maintain an LEI can result in the code being marked as “lapsed,” which could impact an entity’s ability to participate in certain financial transactions.


Legal Entity Identifiers foster transparency, efficiency, and risk management in the global financial landscape. By providing a unique, standardized identification system for legal entities, LEIs enable better tracking of financial transactions, simplify reporting, and facilitate cross-border business.

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