Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)

SEPA means common rules for payments in euro within the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco and San Marino, Andorra and the Vatican City State. Read more about what this means for you when paying or receiving money to/from these countries.

What will SEPA mean for you?

A SEPA payment is based on IBAN, the international account number. As euro countries migrate to SEPA, they will start using IBAN for domestic payments.  This means that you will have to use IBAN also when making a domestic payment from an account held in a euro country inside SEPA.

SEPA means that national file formats will be replaced by the ISO 20022 standard based on XML. This replacement will gradually also apply to the use of EDIFACT as a global standard. 

SEPA Direct Debit will make it possible to set up automated collection to one account in one country from debtors in several countries.

Due to SEPA and the EU rules payments will be handled in a more efficient and predictable manner.  A euro payment will be credited beneficiary’s account not later than the next banking day.  Beneficiary’s bank is not any longer allowed to delay payments and intermediary banks cannot deduct charges from the amount. To make the most out of SEPA and the EUR rules we recommend that you pay in euro or the currency of the beneficiary’s country.

SEPA’s vision is to create one payment area in the euro area so that it will be sufficient for a company with activities in several euro countries to use one bank in one country only. Country specific products and restrictions will gradually be phased out. This process has accelerated after the migration of domestic payments in the Eurozone in 2014.

What is the SEPA story?

SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) was launched in January 2008 and includes the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Andorra and the Vatican City State. SEPA means common rules for general payments, direct debits and cards.

It started with the EU Regulation on Euro Payments back in 2001. Then the principle of same price for cross-border and domestic euro payments within the EEA was introduced.  In 2009 the EU Payment Services Directive was implemented with rules regarding value-dating, maximum transfer times and fee handling.


What we can do for you?

If your company has euro payments and banking needs involving several SEPA countries, we can assist you in setting up the account structure and payment solutions that will meet your needs.  Accounts can be located in DNB’s branches or subsidiary banks in the area. If you need local services in countries where DNB does not operate, partner banks can be included in the solution.

As a customer paying and receiving payments to/from SEPA countries you will benefit from the improved payment infrastructure and solutions.

The optimal payment solution changes with time. Our advisers have first-hand knowledge about what is best for you at any given time. Do not hesitate to contact us and we will assist you in setting up the optimal cross-border payment solution.

Why SEPA End Date?

From the beginning EU’s intention was to move the euro payment volumes to a Pan-European infrastructure with common formats and rules within three years, but this happened only partly. Finland was, in fact, the only sizeable euro country where general payments were moved to SEPA within this timeframe.

When EU realized that the voluntary approach did not work, they passed the SEPA End Date Regulation in 2012. The most important rule is that by February 2014 the euro countries should have moved their payment volumes to SEPA. This has now been done when it comes to ordinary payments and direct debits. The Regulation will be enforced outside the euro area from 31 October 2016. The most important consequence is that from that date files containing euro payments will in most cases have to be sent to the bank in the ISO 20022 XML format in all SEPA countries.

More information

SEPA End Date
European Payments Council
EU about SEPA