What is a LEI?

A Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) is a unique 20-digit code that identifies a distinct legal entity that is counterparty to a derivatives (swaps) transaction in the financial markets.

However, as the regulatory authorities have not yet agreed on a standard LEI that can be used globally, then at the moment entities can only obtain what is being referred to as a pre-LEI.

The pre-LEI will cover the activities of the distinct legal entity and any branch offices that it may have. A Branch office cannot have its own LEI.

At a later date, once the final LEI system has been agreed to by the regulators, existing pre-LEI’s will be converted into permanent LEI’s.

Why do you need a LEI?

Yes, all counterparties to derivatives transactions in the European Union are expected to have a LEI for reporting to trade repositories under European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR). Likewise, the LEI can be used for trading and trade reporting purposes in the United States.

Whilst the LEI will clearly assist the regulatory authorities in monitoring and analysing threats to the stability of the financial markets, it can also be utilised by counterparties internally for risk management purposes.

How to get a LEI?

To obtain a LEI you must register with an authorised LEI issuer. They will carry out a validation check on the information provided and, assuming there is a successful validation, issue a pre-LEI.

A list of those entities authorised to issue pre-LEI’s can be found on the website of

The Legal Entity Identifier Regulatory Oversight Committee – LEIROC: