Global Legal Entity Identifier system - American LEI
Important notice: from 13th April 2021 LEI is mandatory for non-EU (third country) issuers under SFTR regulation

Global Legal Entity Identifier system

American LEI - Legal Entity Identifier system

Global Legal Entity Identifier system

What is a Legal Entity Identifier and why do companies need it?

A Legal Entity Identifier code or LEI number is a unique global identification number for a company that is issued by a GLEIF accredited Local Operating Unit. Financial institutions and regulators use LEIs to identify participants in financial markets.

The MiFID II directive mandates the use of LEIs for all market participants with a separate legal entity that are registered in Europe and that trade in securities. There is no equivalent directive or regulation in the US, however the use of LEIs within the US market is becoming increasingly common. US market participants are required to possess an LEI in a number of circumstances, including (but not limited to) when they are trading in securities in European markets and for certain activities falling under the umbrella of the Commodity Exchange Act and Securities Exchange Act. A comprehensive list of when they are required or requested is available on the GLEIF website.

How to get LEI code for your company?

To apply for an LEI code, a GLEIF-accredited code issuer LOU (Local Operating Unit) is needed. American LEI is a LOU contractual registration agent that registers LEI codes in the United States.

American LEI’s database is interfaced with the Companies Registry, which allows us to automatically query and update data related to your company. We offer American companies a fast and affordable service and keep the data in the GLEIF database in line with your current information.

1. Complete the application form on our website. We validate data using the Companies Registry or other sources.

2. Pay by bank transfer or invoice. We will send an invoice and receipt that comply with your accounting standards.

3. After submitting the application on our website, we will send you a power of attorney for signing.

4. We will send the LEI code to your email.

It takes just 2 minutes to complete the application and LEI number is usually issued within 1-2 working days of payment.

How are LEI codes issued?

The global Legal Entity Identifier system is made up of 3 levels, which can seem confusing at first. In this section, we outline some important definitions and details to bolster your understanding of the logics behind LEI number issuance.

1. Umbrella organisation

GLEIF – Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation

GLEIF was established by the Financial Stability Board with its primary mission being to invent, develop and manage the global LEI system. GLEIF is also the umbrella organisation for LEI registrar, which stores up all the LEI data. GLEIF is a non-profit organisation with its head office located in Basel, Switzerland.

2. Organisations which may issue LEIs

LOU – Local Operating Unit

An LOU is an organisation that has been accredited by GLEIF and has permission to issue LEIs. LOU’s are usually required to gather and verify data and to generate LEIs according to the Protocol. LOU’s must request all of the relevant information from companies seeking an LEI, and they must confirm this data with the National Business Registry. Globally there are around 30 LOU’s and, of this number, only a few of them are able to issue LEI numbers for American companies.

3. Agents for LEI registration

Registration Agent

A Registration agent transfers client data to the LOU in accordance with GLEIF standards and requests additional information from the local Business Registry. GLEIF introduced the concept of an LEI Registration Agent in April 2017 in order to assure the quality of the data in the databases, and to simplify the process of applying for an LEI. American LEI is an Official Registration Agent that operates in the United Kingdom.

LEI code structure

An LEI number (Legal Entity Identifier) is a unique identification number which is issued to companies which operate in the global financial system. LEIs are based on ISO standard 17442:2012. An LEI is issued only once for each company and consists of 20 characters:The first 4 characters are unique to the LOU which has issued the LEI.

8 9 4 5 0 0 2 7 A K 4 L S O G X G Y 1 8
LOU unique numbers Unique characters for the company


  • The 5th and 6th characters are the same for each company – 0.
  • The following 12 characters consist of letters and numbers and are unique for each company.
  • The final 2 characters are known as the checking characters.

The first LEIs were issued in December 2012. As of 3 January 2018, LEIs are mandatory for all companies that are registered in European Union and that trade in securities. You can find more information regarding the LEI system umbrella organisation GLEIF web.

LEI Renewal

Each LEI number that is issued to a company is only active for a period of 1 year. After each year, the LEI needs to be renewed for the following 12 month period. We strongly recommend that you renew your LEIs in a timely manner, as the process can take some time. When the LEI status becomes LAPSED, your LEI is no longer active and therefore it is not possible to use it for financial reporting. In cases where you know in advance that you require your LEI to be active for a longer period of time, you can renew your LEI 2 months before the renewal date. For example, if an LEI was issued on 1 November 2018 and is valid until 31st of October 2020; if you renew your LEI in September 2020 for 1 year, your LEI will be valid until 31 October 2021.

American LEI monitors the validity dates of our client’s LEIs and will let you know when you need to renew your LEI. You can apply to renew your LEI via the application form on our website. More information about LEI renewal here.

Companies apply for an LEI through a service provider, like American LEI. They need to do this because companies can’t apply for or update details within the LEI database, which is managed by the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation – GLEIF. Instead, a service provider (LOU – Local Operating Unit) is assigned to each LEI code and has permission to initiate changes to data on behalf of the company. Read more about tansferring an LEI code to American LEI.