The Bank for International Settlements opened for business on 17 May 1930 in Basel, Switzerland, where it still has its headquarters today. Since its founding, the BIS has established two representative offices: in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (1998) and in Mexico City (2002).
The BIS was created at the Hague Conference that dealt with the issue of German war reparation payments arising from the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Besides the Agreement Approving the Experts' Plan adopted on 20 January 1930 by that Conference (see League of Nations, Treaty series, vol 104, 1930, pp 242-414), which refers to the constitution of the BIS, the key instruments creating the BIS were:
- The Convention respecting the BIS (DE, FR, IT) of 20 January 1930, by which the Swiss Federal Government undertook to grant the BIS its Constituent Charter.
- The BIS Constituent Charter (DE, FR, IT) of 20 January 1930, which establishes the incorporation of the BIS.
- The BIS Statutes (DE, FR, IT) of 20 January 1930, as last amended on 27 June 2005.
The Brussels Protocol (DE, FR, IT) relates to the BIS's immunities, including for assets deposited by the BIS with third parties. The Protocol was signed on 30 July 1936 by representatives of 16 governments (many more have acceded since).
The legal status of the BIS vis-à-vis the jurisdictions in which it is either headquartered or has a representative office is regulated by:
- The Headquarters Agreement (DE, FR, IT), concluded with the Swiss Federal Council on 10 February 1987.
- The Host Country Agreement for the Representative Office for Asia and the Pacific, concluded with the Government of the People's Republic of China on 11 May 1998.
- The Host Country Agreement for the Representative Office for the Americas, concluded with the United Mexican States on 5 November 2001.