What is the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)?
By introducing SEPA, the banks in 32 European countries are anticipating the new European legislation. They have decided to develop uniform payment products for the SEPA area, thereby enabling you to make payments much more easily in these countries. No longer will there be separate rules for each country; instead the same standards will apply to all countries.
The introduction of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) will bring many changes. Businesses and consumers will ultimately use their International Bank Account Number (IBAN). And new standards will apply to credit transfers and direct debits, including payments within the Netherlands. As a business you can already use your IBAN and most SEPA payment standards.
The advantages of SEPA
You will soon be 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.
What is the Bank Identifier Code?
The Bank Identifier Code (BIC) is the code that identifies each bank. For example, ABN AMRO’s BIC is ABNANL2A. If you wish to transfer money to someone outside the Netherlands, you will need to know the BIC of his or her bank.
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- use many different programs or outdated software (such as old accounting software) for your payments;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.
As of January 28, 2008 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.