What is an LEI number?

An LEI number, or an LEI code, is a 20-character number used globally to identify companies that trade in securities. LEI is an abbreviation for Legal Entity Identifier. Since 3 January 2018, it has been statutory in the EU that companies that trade in securities must have an LEI number.

Although it is not required to have an LEI number in all countries outside the EU, many companies still choose to have an LEI number, as it gives a serious impression and can facilitate trading through certain banks and institutions. There are international banks that choose to require their customers to hold an LEI number in order to trade according to the coined expression "No LEI, no trade".

The non-profit organization responsible for the system for LEI numbers is called GLEIF - Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation - and is based in Basel, Switzerland. The validity of an LEI number is 1 year. Thereafter, it must be renewed annually.