The Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) is a 20-character reference code to uniquely identify legally distinct entities that engage in financial transactions and associated reference data. Two fundamental principles of the LEI code are:
You will find below information on the structure of LEI codes, the components of the reference data associated to each LEI and the definition of entities eligible to obtain an LEI.
Entities who wish to obtain an LEI should consult the page, How to Obtain an LEI. The GLEIF publishes a centralised data base of LEIs. A search function was added in October 2015, where you can check if an entity has an LEI, or access the reference data associated with an LEI, including verifying whether the LEI is current and can be used in regulatory reporting (registration status: "issued"or "pending transfer").
Structure of the LEI code
The LEI definition currently relies on a standard published by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) on 30 May 2012 (ISO 17442:2012, Financial Services - Legal Entity Identifier (LEI))
The number allocation scheme was further specified in Annex 2 of the Financial Stability Board's third progress note on the Global LEI Initiative on 24 October 2012:
As specified in ISO 17442:2012, the reference data stored in the LEI data base for each entity includes:
The ROC adopted a common data format (CDF) in 2014 defining with more granularity the content of an LEI record.
Beyond the "level 1" "business card" information described above and already collected by the Global LEI System, the objective is to progressively extend the reference data to "level 2" data on relationships among entities. As a first step, the ROC established in December 2014 a task force to develop a proposal for collecting in the Global LEI System information on the direct and ultimate parents of legal entities. A public consultation was launched on 7 September 2015 on this topic. Phased implementation of such information is expected to begin in 2016.
Entities eligible for an LEI
ISO 17442:2012 states that the ISO standard "specifies the elements of an unambiguous Legal Entity Identifier scheme to identify the legal entities relevant to any financial transaction.
The term "legal entities" includes, but is not limited to, unique parties that are legally or financially responsible for the performance of financial transactions or have the legal right in their jurisdiction to enter independently into legal contracts, regardless of whether they are incorporated or constituted in some other way (e.g. trust, partnership, contractual). It excludes natural persons, but includes governmental organizations and supranationals." (source: International Organisation for Standardisation, http://www.iso.org/iso/catalogue_detail?csnumber=59771)
Individuals acting in a business capacity are eligible to an LEI under certain conditions described by the ROC on 30 September 2015.
A policy document published by the ROC on 11 July 2016 sets forth the policy design, definitions, and conditions for issuance of LEIs for international branches (also known as foreign branches). Implementation is expected to start in early 2017, subject to ROC concurrence with an appropriate framework being established to ensure that the conditions described in this document are met.