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ISO 20275: Entity Legal Forms Code List

The first iteration, released by GLEIF in November 2017, lists more than 1,600 entity legal forms across more than 50 jurisdictions


Author: Stephan Wolf

  • Date: 2017-11-30
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  • Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

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The Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) publishes the ‘Entity Legal Forms (ELF) Code List’ available for download below. The first iteration, released in November 2017, lists more than 1,600 entity legal forms across more than 50 jurisdictions. Examples of entity legal forms include: Limited liability partnership (LLP), 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)’ (see ‘related links’ below), 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 ISO members as well as members of 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 with the ‘related links’ below.

Interested parties who wish to suggest an entity legal form to be included in the ELF Code List, are invited to email to elf@gleif.org.

Implementation of the ELF Code List

Going forward, LEI issuing organizations will 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 LEI-CDF format version 2.1.

GLEIF will monitor 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. From 1 March 2018, all newly issued LEIs should indicate the applicable ELF code.


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About the author:

Stephan Wolf is the CEO of the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF). Since January 2017, Mr. Wolf is Co-convener of the International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee 68 FinTech Technical Advisory Group (ISO TC 68 FinTech TAG). In January 2017, Mr. Wolf was named one of the Top 100 Leaders in Identity by One World Identity. He has extensive experience in establishing data operations and global implementation strategy. He has led the advancement of key business and product development strategies throughout his career. Mr. Wolf co-founded IS Innovative Software GmbH in 1989 and served first as its managing director. He was later named spokesman of the executive board of its successor IS.Teledata AG. This company ultimately became part of Interactive Data Corporation where Mr. Wolf held the role of CTO.


Tags for this article:
Entity Legal Forms (ELF) Code List, Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF), Legal Entity Identifier (LEI), Standards
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