ISO 20275: Entity Legal Forms Code List
The Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) publishes the ‘Entity Legal Forms (ELF) Code List’ available for download below. The current version, released in September 2023, lists more than 3,400 entity legal forms across more than 185 jurisdictions. The list contains legal forms/types in their native language, such as limited liability companies (Ltd), Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (GmbH) or Société Anonyme (SA). The ELF Code List assigns a unique code to each entity legal form. The ELF code is an alpha-numeric code of four characters from the basic Latin character set.
Integrating ELF codes into the standardized set of reference data on a legal entity available within the Global LEI Index, further enhances the business card information included in each Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) record. The richer data provides an improved user experience, because it helps to categorize legal entities and therefore, allows for more insight into the global market place.
The entity legal forms contained on the ELF Code List have been identified based on research carried out by GLEIF. Identifying additional entity legal forms that exist across the globe remains a work in progress. GLEIF will publish updated versions of the ELF Code List periodically.
ISO standard 20275 ‘Financial Services – Entity Legal Forms (ELF)’
The ELF Code List is based on the ISO standard 20275 ‘Financial Services – Entity Legal Forms (ELF)’, developed by the International Organization for Standardization. The standard was published in July 2017. As stated by ISO, it “specifies the elements of an unambiguous scheme to identify the distinct entity legal forms in a jurisdiction. Its aim is to enable legal forms within jurisdictions to be codified and thus facilitate the classification of legal entities according to their legal form.” The ISO standard states that entity legal form means the “type of entity that an organization is considered to be within the legal or regulatory system under which it is formed”.
ISO points out that understanding the legal form of an entity “is an important component of financial services transactions. Entering into a business relationship requires distinguishing the type of entity that is being transacted with. Parties (and their organizational structure) involved in financial transactions need to be identified within these transactions. Standardization of the legal or organizational construct will aid flexibility and provide greater understanding of exposure to risk and access to capital.”
“Regulators and market participants have recognized the need to identify entity legal forms, both nationally and consistently across the global markets and have asked for a standard to be developed to meet this need. This ISO standard 20275 fulfils the need for the identification of entity legal forms in a structured way in order, among other things, for entities to be classified according to the nature of their legal constitution.”
GLEIF’s role in the maintenance of the ELF Code List
ISO has established a Maintenance Agency relevant to the ISO 20275 standard, which consists of members the ISO Technical Committee 68 Financial Services. The Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV) is the appointed Maintenance Agency Secretariat. SNV has assigned “the accomplishment of the secretariat of the Maintenance Agency” and the undertaking of related tasks to GLEIF. Among other things, GLEIF is responsible for identifying existing entity legal forms and assigning a unique ELF code to each entity legal form in accordance with the ISO 20275 standard. More information on Maintenance Agencies for ISO standards can be found here.
Interested parties who wish to suggest an entity legal form to be included in the ELF Code List, are invited to email to email@example.com.
Implementation of the ELF Code List
LEI issuing organizations reference the ELF code in their LEI issuance processes and reporting.
The LEI-Common Data File (CDF) format defines how LEI issuing organizations report their LEI and Level 1 reference data; i.e. the business card information on a legal entity that answers the question of ‘who is who’. The structure for the ELF code has been incorporated into the current version of the LEI-CDF format.
GLEIF monitors compliance of LEI issuers with the ELF Code List subject to an ELF code being available for a specific legal entity form in a jurisdiction.
There are 2 Reserved Codes; with the introduction of version 1.5 of the ELF Code list, the meaning of these codes has changed and is now:
- 8888: to be used when a new ELF Code (for a legal form not yet on the list) is requested from GLEIF ;
- 9999: to be used for LEIs for entities which have no separate legal form.
Use of language
All entity legal forms are only available in the local language(s). Countries with multiple official languages (e.g. Switzerland, Belgium, Canada) have their legal forms reported in all of their official languages.
A legal form only has a meaning according to local legislation, therefore providing an English translation for all legal forms in all countries would cause confusion.
Example: a Dutch BV is not a German GmbH and is not a private limited liability company.
Use of ELF Codes for multiple jurisdictions / French overseas territories
From the implementation of version 1.2 of the ELF Code list, the French legal forms (and the ELF Codes) will now also be used for 7 French overseas territories (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion, Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin). These jurisdictions are part of France and have as such the same legislation and thus the same legal forms.
This also means that the Legal Jurisdiction of these entities will be France, because the Legal Jurisdiction is determined by the legal form. And since the legal form is French, the Legal Jurisdiction has to be France.
Relevant Files for Download
- Download as PDF for ease of reading and quick reference: Entity Legal Forms Code List (Version 1.5 )
- Download as Excel for use with popular spreadsheet applications: Entity Legal Forms Code List (Version 1.5 )
- Download as CSV for automated processing and analysis with more technical programming tools: Entity Legal Forms Code List (Version 1.5 )
- Download an overview of all changes in version 1.5 compared to version 1.4.1 in Excel: Changes in Entity Legal Forms Code List v1.5 compared to v1.4.1