What is an LEI Number?

What is a Legal Entity Identifier (LEI)?

An LEI number is a 20-character code that is based on the ISO 17442 standard developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). An 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 publicly available LEI data helps to clearly identify legal entities and thus provides more transparency in the global marketplace. An LEI number displays the legal name of an entity, the registry the entity is registered in, the registration number, legal jurisdiction, legal form, entity status, as well as contact details such as the legal address and headquarters address of the entity. 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 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


Structure of an LEI number

An LEI number is standardised with ISO certificate 17442. An LEI 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/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. 

In general, financial institutions such as banks, investment and insurance companies, credit unions and brokerages will be required to obtain an LEI number. For example, investment firms and their clients in the EU are required to have an LEI. EU authorities are instructed to refuse trades between investment firms and clients unless both sides have an LEI number. 

There are also a number of industries that 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.

An 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 by regulators to oversee financial markets
● LEI connects financial markets, companies and regulators
● The issuing of an LEI number is conducted by GLEIF accredited LOUs
● GLEIF - Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation

Renewal of an LEI number

An LEI number needs annual renewal. This means that an LEI issued on 01.02.2020 will have to be renewed before 01.02.2021. If the deadline has passed, your LEI will become inactive until renewed again. It is necessary to renew LEI codes 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 multi-year LEI renewal, LEI Register will take the responsibility to update your data based on official company registries and renew your LEI code on a yearly basis. Our aim is 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 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 an LEI number?

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

LEI Register is not an LOU. LEI Register is a Registration Agent. Our task is to help legal entities obtain reliable information about the LEI as well as apply for and transfer/renew LEIs. LEI Register manages the communication between LOUs and entities wishing to apply for an LEI. We validate the data provided against official registries such as the Companies House. More information about Registration Agents can be found here.