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What is the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)?

Since 1 February 2014 we have switched to SEPA and IBAN. As a result we now have a single European payments market with standardized payment products. No longer there are separate rules for each country; instead the same standards apply to all countries. 

SEPA is a result of European legislation. Early January 2014 the European Commission announced a  transitional period of six months for SEPA. This allows banks to process their customers’ domestic (non-SEPA) direct debits and credit transfers for six months longer (for example, in the ClieOp file format). The actual legal migration date has not changed and is still 1 February 2014.

A number of countries make no use of the transitional period or only to a limited extent. Details are in the overview.

The advantages of SEPA

You are now able to pay invoices and directly debit accounts in the SEPA area from a single account. In addition, a uniform payments market is conducive to competition, which can in turn result in better products, greater efficiency and lower costs.

What is IBAN?

International Bank Account Numbers (IBANs) are the international bank account numbers assigned to you and your customers. You can find your IBAN on your account statement and via Internet Banking. Once SEPA becomes effective, you must use your IBAN for every payment transaction.

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The consequences of switching to SEPA are often greater if you:

  • use many different programs or outdated software (such as old accounting software) for your payments;
  • have foreign accounts and/or accounts at many different banks;
  • automatically process account statements in your accounting system;
  • deliver batches;
  • collect payments from your customers. The deadlines for delivery of direct debit batches and the file format will change and there will be a significant adjustment to the recording of the direct debit mandate in your accounting system.

Participating banks

SEPA transfers can be made to the following participating banks (PDF's in Dutch). This list also provides the BIC code of all banks that are ready for SEPA transactions.