The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) will allow customers to make euro payments throughout Europe as easily, securely and efficiently as they do today within their own countries. Once SEPA has been completed, there will no longer be any distinction between national and cross-border euro payments: they will all be domestic.
Joint statement by the European Commission and the ECB
“The Commission and the ECB see SEPA as an integrated market for payment services which is subject to effective competition and where there is no distinction between cross-border and national payments within the euro area. This calls for the removal of all technical, legal and commercial barriers between the current national payment markets.”
European Payments Council
“SEPA will be the area where citizens, companies and other economic actors will be able to make and receive payments in euro whether between or within national boundaries under the same basic conditions, rights and obligations regardless of their location within Europe.”
Source: European Payments Council (EPC), December 2004
- 2001: European regulation on cross-border payments in euro (Regulation No 2560/2001) stipulated that payment charges for cross-border euro payments (by credit transfer or payment card) within the EU should be the same as for corresponding domestic euro payments.
- 2002: Set-up of the European Payments Council (EPC).
- 2007: Adoption of the Payment Services Directive (PSD) as the legal basis for retail payments in Europe.
- 2008: Start of SEPA credit transfers.
- 2009: Start of SEPA direct debits; deadline for national implementation of the PSD. Review of Regulation 2560/2001, introducing reachability for direct debits and rules for direct debit interchange fees.
- 2012: Regulation No 260/2012 entered into force, which establishes technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro. The regulation stipulates 1 February 2014 as the end date for migration to SEPA credit transfers and SEPA direct debits in the euro area. The deadline for EU Member States with other currencies, applicable for payments in euro, is 31 October 2016.
- 2014: In January the European Commission proposes the introduction of a further transition period of six months for SEPA migration in the euro area.
SEPA in phases
|Jan. 2004 - Jun. 2006||The European Payments Council (EPC) established the rules and practices for the new payment schemes and selected the standards to be applied.|
|Jun. 2006 - Jan. 2008||The payments industry created and tested the new SEPA products.
Each participating country set up national implementation and migration bodies, which prepared the roll-out of the new SEPA instruments, standards, and infrastructures.
The European Commission provided a harmonised legal basis for the payments market in Europe in the form of the Payment Services Directive.
|Since Jan. 2008||Providers and users of payment services switch over to SEPA payment instruments.
Banks, payment institutions, clearing and settlement infrastructures, card processors and card schemes need to adapt their products and services to SEPA equivalents. Users migrate from national payment instruments to SEPA instruments.
|1 February 2014||Migration deadline for euro area countries stipulated by Regulation No 260/2012.
As of this date, existing national euro credit transfers and direct debits should be replaced by SEPA credit transfers and SEPA direct debits. On 9 January 2014 the European Commission proposed a Regulation amending Regulation No 260/2012, introducing an additional transition period of six months for the euro area.
|1 January 2015||Migration deadline for SEPA direct debits in Latvia.
Latvia joined the euro area on 1 January 2014. As a new euro area country, Latvia has up to one year to complete the migration (however, the stakeholders have agreed on an earlier end date for migration to SEPA credit transfers in Latvia, which is 1 January 2014).
|31 October 2016||Migration deadline for non-euro area countries for credit transfers and direct debits in euro.|
Map, facts and figures
SEPA covers not only the euro area. Also Communities outside the euro area have adopted SEPA standards and practices for their euro payments. However, legal coverage applies to Communities within the EU only.
Which countries participate in SEPA?
- All countries within the European Union (EU);
- San Marino; and
SEPA in numbers
- 34 countries in Europe participate in SEPA;
- Over 523 million citizens are able to make SEPA payments;
- Over 4,500 payment service providers have signed up for SEPA credit transfers;
- Over 3,900 payment service providers have signed up for the SEPA core direct debit scheme;
- Over 3,400 payment service providers have signed up for the SEPA business-to-business direct debit scheme.
What are the main features of SEPA?
- The euro is the monetary basis for SEPA. The single currency is the political driver for the establishment of a common market for payments;
- A single set of payment instruments in euro;
- Efficient infrastructures for the processing of euro payments;
- Common technical standards;
- A harmonised legal basis; and
- The ongoing development of new services