What is Entity Legal Form (ELF) code?

  • Legal Entity Identifier (LEI)

Introduction

In the intricate world of global finance, identifying and classifying legal entities is paramount. To address this need, the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) introduced the "Entity Legal Forms (ELF) Code List" in November 2017. This comprehensive list covers over 1,600 entity legal forms across more than 50 jurisdictions. By providing unique alpha-numeric codes for various entity types like Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (GmbH), and Société Anonyme (SA), the ELF Code List standardizes the reference data on legal entities, enhancing the business card information integral to every Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) record. This initiative is rooted in the ISO standard 20275, "Financial Services - Entity Legal Forms (ELF)," established in July 2017.

The Importance of ELF Codes

The ELF Code List is crucial for improving the user experience in financial transactions by offering richer data that helps classify legal entities, providing greater insight into the global market environment. According to research conducted by GLEIF, the entity legal forms included in the ELF Code List are continuously updated, with revised versions released periodically. The goal is to identify and codify entity legal forms used worldwide, thereby facilitating easier classification of legal entities based on their legal form.

ISO Standard 20275 and Its Impact

ISO standard 20275 serves as the foundation for the ELF Code List. It provides a clear plan to distinguish the various entity legal forms within a jurisdiction, promoting the codification of legal forms and enabling easier categorization of legal entities. The standard defines an entity's legal form as the "type of entity that it is considered to be within the legal or regulatory system under which it is formed." This identification is critical in financial services transactions, as it helps recognize the kind of entity involved in commercial partnerships and financial transactions, thereby enhancing understanding of capital access and risk exposure.

Role of GLEIF in Maintaining the ELF Code List

The GLEIF, in collaboration with ISO Technical Committee 68 Financial Services and ISO members, plays a pivotal role in maintaining the ELF Code List. The Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV) serves as the Secretariat of the Maintenance Agency for ISO 20275, while GLEIF is tasked with identifying existing entity legal forms and assigning unique ELF codes in compliance with the standard. This systematic identification ensures that entities are categorized based on their legal constitutions, providing consistency and clarity in the global market.

Conclusion

The Entity Legal Forms (ELF) Code List, underpinned by ISO standard 20275, represents a significant step towards standardizing the identification and classification of legal entities worldwide. By offering unique codes for various entity types, the ELF Code List enhances the business card information in LEI records, promoting transparency and insight into the global financial market. GLEIF's ongoing efforts in maintaining and updating the list ensure that the classification of legal entities keeps pace with the evolving global market environment, thereby supporting regulators and market participants in making informed financial decisions.

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