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What is a Legal Entity Identifier (LEI)?

A Legal Entity Identifier is referred to as LEI, LEI Codes or LEI Numbers. An LEI is defined as a unique 20-character alphanumeric string (e.g. 529900T8BM49AURSDO55) and the code represents a Legal Entity such as company, organization, firm, government body, trust, or fund.

Each unique LEI Code is published in the Global LEI System (GLEIS) database – essentially a public global directory of millions of organizations. LEI Search services access the database to lookup the LEI and link to identity reference data about the organization. An LEI record contains information such as the company name, address, incorporation status, and whether they are owned by, or own, other organizations.

Legal Entity Identifier reference data can be used to provide identity assurance in financial transactions, KYC (Know Your Customer), client onboarding and other organization identity use cases.

The LEI number is based on the ISO 17442 standard and each LEI is assigned only to a single Legal Entity, even across different geographical jurisdictions.

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The Legal Entity Identifier ecosystem, known as the Global Legal Entity Identifier System or GLEIS, is maintained and operated by the Global LEI Foundation (GLEIF). The GLEIF was established by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) under direction of the G20 after the 2008 financial crisis to drive transparency within the global markets.

In almost all cases now, the Legal Entity has been verified, as such the LEI provides accurate and up to date identity information about the organization.

LEIs are global and are recognized on a worldwide basis. They are primarily used in over 300 LEI regulations to identify transacting parties, or counter parties, within financial systems. Once issued the Legal Entity number can be used to represent the Legal Entity.

LEIs are required by all parties participating in regulated transactions. They provide a publicly available verifiable source of ‘who is who’ (organization identity) and ‘who owns whom’ (organization group structures).

The ability to issue Legal Entity Identifiers is only awarded to a limited number of institutions (like Ubisecure and our RapidLEI service) after passing and maintaining a stringent accreditation process who then become formally known as LOUs – Legal Operating Units. RapidLEI operates primarily via a global network of local LEI Partners referred to as Registration Agents or Validation Agents.

Since launching in 2018, RapidLEI has become the largest LEI Issuer worldwide and currently issues approximately 1 in 4 new LEIs.

Learn more about LEIs

Watch this short video to learn more about LEIs and how RapidLEI can help your organization register and manage LEIs:


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