Sepa

The SEPA Project

The SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) is a European project of unification of means of payment.

europe-sepa-en

SEPA is the Single Euro Payments Area, including EU member states, plus Norway to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Monaco.

The EPC (European Payments Council or European Payments Council), which brings together the European banking communities as well as major European banks launched the SEPA project in 2002. He defined the rules for three payment instruments: credit transfers, debits and card payments.

Transfers (SCT or – “SEPA Credit Transfer”) are available since 2008 and standing orders (or SDD – “SEPA Direct Debit”) since late 2010.

The Council and the European Parliament adopted in February 2012 a Regulation setting end dates for migration to SCT and SDD. In line with this EU law, national credit transfers and withdrawals are permanently replaced by their European equivalent of 1st August 2014 in the countries of the Euro zone. For other countries, the deadline is October 31, 2016. After the due date passes, it will not be possible for a service user payment of transfers and / or samples to the national format.

What is a BIC code

The BIC Code (Bank Identifier Code) is the unique international codification for financial institutions.

SWIFT handles the registration of the BIC codes under the standard ISO 9362.

These codes are used when transferring money between banks, particularly for international wire transfers, in and out of the SEPA area.

The BIC code can be found on the bank account statements.

The BIC code is 8 or 11 characters:

BIC format

Bank codeCountry codeLocation codeBranch code
AAAA AA XXXXX

A: Letter - X: Letter or digit

  • Bank code: 4 letters identifying the Bank,
  • Country code : 2 letters of the country of the Bank, under ISO 3166 alpha-2 standard,
  • Location code: 2 letters or digits for the location of the bank in the country,
  • Branch code: 3 letters or digits, optional  ('XXX' for primary office).

Where an 8-digit code is given, it may be assumed that it refers to the primary office.

Example:

Bank codeCountry codeLocation codeBranch code
BDFEFRPPTIT
Banque de FranceFranceParisSecurities Dept

The EU regulation 260/2012 requires the input of the BIC is no longer mandatory and must be added to any IBAN by the financial institutions:

  • From 1st February 2014, on all SEPA domestic orders,
  • As of 1st February 2016, on all SEPA cross-border orders.

BIC remains mandatory for financial transactions outside the SEPA area (SWIFT transfers).

SEPA PLUS DIRECTORY

SWIFT issues SEPA Plus which is a directory of all SEPA members. SEPA Plus is the solution for checking:

  • BIC code of all SEPA members,
  • available schemes in a bank (SCT, SDD Core or SDD B2B),
  • routing service by CSM and leading bank,
  • BIC deduction from IBAN (European Union regulation 260/2012)

SEPA Plus is the only international legal directory used for checking SEPA orders. It provides all the informations issued by the CSM.

Business Clients issuing SEPA files, and financial institutions, are required to check destination BIC before validating a SEPA transaction, otherwise it can be rejected.

CHECKING A BIC CODE

Banks apply a built-in checking for all BIC codes in customers web transactions.

If BIC code is rejected, this is mostly because the destination Bank is not a SEPA member.

Sometimes, BIC code is rejected, although it is a valid code:

  • SEPA directory is not up to date

The directory is updated every month by SWIFT. Some banks do not apply updates at the same frequency. Troubles may also occur with recent registrations in a CSM directory.

  • Bank use a wrong algorithm to control BIC and IBAN.

Some financial institutions conclued wrongly, that the country code in BIC should be the same than in IBAN, without checking in the SEPA Directory. For example, in french over-seas territories, a valid IBAN starts with "FR" as country code, and BIC country code can be different (GP, MQ, RE, PM,...).

Example:

BDPM PM PM XXX is a valid BIC code of the french territory of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon (country code PM) , and

FR14 2001 0101 1505 0001 3M02 606 is a valid IBAN, because

FR code applies for IBAN in Saint-Pierre et Miquelon (see What is IBAN).

  • Bank does not issue SEPA orders

This is a rare case, but it may happen. Bank is not capable to send orders via SEPA, particularly cross-borders transactions. Bank will reject the BIC or will use SWIFT network, as for a non-SEPA international operation.

What is IBAN?

The IBAN (International Bank Account Number) is an internationally agreed means of identifying bank accounts across national borders.

It was originally adopted by the European Committee for Banking Standards (ECBS), and later as an international standard under ISO 13616, which indicates SWIFT as the formal registrar.

Initially developed to facilitate payments within the European Union, it has been implemented by most European countries and many countries in the world, especially in the Middle East and in the Caribbean.

The IBAN consists of up to 34 alphanumeric characters:

  • two-letter ISO 3166 country code,
  • two check digits,
  • a country-specific Basic Bank Account Number (BBAN). The BBAN format is decided by each national banking community.

In France, the IBAN length is 27 characters. In the UK, the IBAN length is 22 characters.

List of countries using IBAN:

 CountryCountry Code ISO 3166Currency Code ISO 4217LengthSEPA Member (*)Example
European Union Countries subjet to EU Regulation
ATAustriaATEUR20YesAT61 7601 3000 3574 6811
BEBelgiumBEEUR16YesBE62 5100 0754 7061
BGBulgariaBGLEV22YesBG62 UBBS 8002 1079 3545 17
CYCyprusCYEUR28YesCY67 0020 0128 0000 0012 1819 4900
HRCroatiaHRHRK21YesHR12 1001 0051 8630 0016 0
CZCzech republicCZCZK24YesCZ94 5500 0000 0010 1103 8930
DKDenmarkDKDKK18YesDK50 0040 0440 1162 43
EEEstoniaEEEUR20YesEE85 2200 2210 2014 6585
FIFinlandFIEUR18YesFI21 1234 5600 0007 85
FRFranceFREUR27YesFR14 2001 0101 1505 0001 3M02 606
DEGermanyDEEUR22YesDE89 3704 0044 5320 1300 05
GBGreat BritainGBGBP22YesGB29 NWBK 6016 1331 9268 19
GRGreeceGREUR27YesGR16 0110 1250 0000 0001 2300
HUHungaryHUHUF28YesHU42 1177 3016 1111 1018 0000 0000
IEIrelandIEEUR22YesIE29 AIBK 9311 5212 3456 78
ITItaly/Sardinia/SiciliaITEUR27YesIT40 S054 2811 1010 0000 0123 456
LVLatviaLVEUR21YesLV80 VABA 0000 4351 9500 1
LTLituaniaLTEUR20YesLT12 5487 8453 2569 8415
LULuxembourgLUEUR20YesLU28 0019 4006 4475 0000
MTMaltaMTEUR31YesMT84 MALT 0110 0001 2345 MTLC AST0 01S
NLThe NetherlandsNLEUR18YesNL39 RABO 0300 0652 64
PLPolandPLPLN28YesPL27 1140 2004 0000 3002 0123 5387
PTPortugal/ Azores/ MadeiraPTEUR25YesPT50 0002 0123 1234 5678 9015 4
RORomaniaRORON24YesRO12 XXXX 1X31 1234 1234 1234
SKSlovakiaSKEUR24YesSK31 1200 0000 1987 4263 7541
SISloveniaSIEUR19YesSI56 1910 0000 0123 438
ESSpain/ Canarias/ BalearesESEUR24YesES07 0012 0345 0300 0006 7890
SESwedenSESEK24YesSE35 5000 0000 0549 1000 0003
Countries assimilated to EU and subject to EU Regulation
GIGibraltar (GB)GIGIP23YesGI75 NWBK 0000 0000 7099 453
FRGuadeloupe (FR)GPEUR27YesFR14 2001 0101 1505 0001 3M02 606
FRFrench Guyana (FR)GFEUR27YesFR14 2001 0101 1505 0001 3M02 606
FRMartinique (FR)MQEUR27YesFR14 2001 0101 1505 0001 3M02 606
FRMayotte (FR)YTEUR27YesFR14 2001 0101 1505 0001 3M02 606
FRReunion (FR)REEUR27YesFR14 2001 0101 1505 0001 3M02 606
Other European Countries, Specific Overseas Territories, Non European Countries
ALAlbaniaALALL28YesAL47 2121 1009 0000 0002 3569 8741
ADAndorraADEUR24NoAD12 0001 2030 2003 5910 0100
AZAzerbaijanAZAZN28NoAZ21 NABZ 0000 0000 1370 1000 1944
BHBahrainBHBHD22NoBH67 BMAG 0000 1299 1234 56
BABosnia HerzegovinaBABAM20NoBA39 1290 0794 0102 8494
NOBouvet Island (NO)BVNOK15YesNO09 3860 1111 794
BRBrasilBRBRL29NoBR18 0000 0000 1414 5512 3924 100C 2
VGBritish Virgin IslandsVGUSD24NoVG96 VPVG 0000 0123 4567 8901
CRCosta RicaCRCRC21NoCR05 1520 2001 0262 8406 6
DODominican RépublicDODOP28NoDO28 BAGR 0000 0001 2124 5361 1324
DKFeroe Islands (DK)FODKK18YesDK50 0040 0440 1162 43
GEGeorgiaGEGEL22NoGE29 NB00 0000 0101 9049 17
GLGreenland (DK)GLDKK18NoDK50 0040 0440 1162 43
GTGuatemalaGTGTQ28NoGT82 TRAJ 0102 0000 0012 1002 9690
GGGuernesey (GB)GGGBP22YesGB29 NWBK 6016 1331 9268 19
IMIle of Man (GB)IMGBP22YesGB29 NWBK 6016 1331 9268 19
ISIcelandISISK26YesIS14 0159 2600 7654 5510 7303 39
ILIsraelILILS23NoIL62 0108 0000 0009 9999 999
JEJersey (GB)JEGBP22YesGB29 NWBK 6016 1331 9268 19
KZKazakhstanKZKZT20NoKZ86 125K ZT50 0410 0100
KWKuweitKWKWD30NoKW81 CBKU 0000 0000 0000 1234 5601 01
LBLebanonLBLBP28NoLB62 0999 0000 0001 0019 0122 9114
LILiechtensteinLIEUR21YesLI93 0076 2011 6238 5295 7
MKMacedonia (ex Yugoslavia)MKMKD19NoMK07 3000 0000 0042 425
MRMauritaniaMRMRO27NoMR13 0002 0001 0100 0012 3456 753
MUMauritius IslandMUMUR30NoMU17 BOMM 0101 1010 3030 0200 000M UR
MDRepublic of MoldovaMDMDL24NoMD24 AG00 0225 1000 1310 4168
MCMonacoMCEUR27YesMC58 11222 00001 0123456789030
MEMontenegroMEEUR22NoME25 5050 0001 2345 6789 51
NCNew Caledonia (FR)NCXPF27No (*)FR14 2001 0101 1505 0001 3M02 606
NONorwayNONOK15YesNO93 8601 1117 947
PKPakistanPKPKR24NoPK36 SCBL 0000 0011 2345 6702
PSPalestine (State of)PSILS29NoPS92 PALS 0000 0000 0400 1234 5670 2
PFFrench PolynesiaPFXPF27No (*)FR14 2001 0101 1505 0001 3M02 606
QAQatarQAQAR29NoQA58 DOHB 0000 1234 5678 90AB CDEF G
FRSaint Barthelemy (FR)BLEUR27YesFR14 2001 0101 1505 0001 3M02 606
SMSaint MarinSMEUR27YesSM86 U032 2509 8000 0000 0270 100
FRSaint Martin (FR)MFEUR27YesFR14 2001 0101 1505 0001 3M02 606
FRSaint Pierre and Miquelon (FR)PMEUR27YesFR14 2001 0101 1505 0001 3M02 606
SASaudi ArabiaSASAR24NoSA03 8000 0000 6080 1016 7519
RSSerbiaRSRSD22NoRS35 2600 0560 1001 6113 79
NOSvalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (NO)SJNOK15YesNO09 3860 1111 794
CHSwitzerlandCHCHF21YesCH58 7621 1623 8529 5745 9
TFFrench Southern and Antartic Territories (FR)TFEUR27NoFR14 2001 0101 1505 0001 3M02 606
TNTunisiaTNTND24NoTN59 1000 6035 1835 9847 8831
TRTurkeyTRTRY26NoTR33 0006 1005 1978 6457 8413 26
AEUnited Arab EmiratesAEAED23NoAE07 0331 2345 6789 0123 456
VAVaticanVAEUR27NoIT40 S054 2811 1010 0000 0123 456
WFWallis and Futuna (FR)WFXPF27No (*)FR14 2001 0101 1505 0001 3M02 606

(*) countries members of SEPA COM Pacific. The SEPA COM Pacific use the SEPA standard for Credit transferts and Direct Debits in euros:

  • between the Republic of France “SEPA area” and the members of SEPA COM
  • for exchanges between SEPA COM members