What Is An LEI Number?

What is an LEI?

An LEI number (Legal Entity Identifier) is a 20-character code that is based on the ISO 17442 standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). LEI number is used as a reference to important information that offers transparency when taking part in financial transactions such as trading with stocks, bonds or forex.

What Information Is Identifiable With an LEI Number?

The information available helps to clearly identify legal entities. The publicly available LEI data offers more transparency in a global marketplace. This includes data such as the legal name of the entity, registration authority entity ID, legal jurisdiction, LEI registration date and entity status. In addition, it will also provide contact details such as the legal address and headquarters address. Lastly, you can also view parent and child information of the company. This is classed as Level 2 data which helps identify who owns the legal entity and also who 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 Level 2 data available in an LEI search. Level 1 data refers to the information available from an LEI search. Level 2 data refers to company parent and child data to answer the question of who owns whom.


Structure of an LEI number

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

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

Who Needs an LEI Number?

LEIs are required by any legal entity that regularly incorporates financial transactions. This includes buying stocks, bonds and other securities. Some jurisdictions also require legal entities to obtain an LEI to make them easily identifiable. There are also a number of industries that are now required to apply for an LEI. Read more about who needs an LEI number.

In general, any financial institutions such as banks, investment and insurance companies, credit unions and brokerages will be required to obtain an LEI number. The exception to this is individuals who DO NOT need 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.

LEI number in simple terms

● LEI number - Legal entity identification code.
● A unique identification code for entities which 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 for regulators to oversee financial markets.
● LEI connects financial markets, companies and regulators.
● The issuing of an LEI number is conducted under GLEIF-accredited LOUs.
● GLEIF - Global Legal EntityIdentifier Foundation

Renewal of an LEI number

An LEI number needs annual renewal. This means that an LEI issued on 2/01/2018 will have to be renewed before 2/01/2019. If the deadline has passed, your LEI will become inactive until renewed again. This renewal process is necessary to ensure the data in the Global LEI Pool is relevant and up to date.

LEI Register offers the renewal of LEIs for 1-, 3- or 5-year period. Whatever the period, you will receive a notification from LEI Register a month prior to the deadline. In the case of multi-year LEI renewal, the LEI Register will take the responsibility to check your data before renewal and renew your LEI number on a yearly basis. Our aim is to keep your data up to date.

LEI number is all about connecting the dots!

The vision of GLEIF is to have one universal registration number for all entities around the globe. This is an identifier that would provide standardised 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 LEI number?

Issuance of LEIs is governed by GLEIF. The GLEIF is the foundation which controls the issuance of LEI numbers. The GLEIF does not itself issue LEIs, they are instead issued through a network of public and private companies acting as LOUs. Their purpose is to supply registration, the renewal of LEI numbers, and act as a gateway for organisations that wish to obtain an LEI number. A list of LOUs can be found here.

The LEI Registry is not an LOU. Instead, the LEI Registry acts as Registration Agent. Our task is to help companies and public entities obtain reliable information about an LEI, and manage communication between LOUs and entities wishing to apply for an LEI. We check data provided with publically available services such as Companies Register, etc. More information about Registration Agents can be found here.