Migrating to the Single Euro Payments Area: key facts
What is the SEPA migration end-date regulation?
Payments in euro throughout Europe need to work in a safe and efficient
manner. For that reason, in March 2012 the European legislator adopted
Regulation No 260/2012, which is also commonly
referred to as the "SEPA migration end-date regulation". The regulation
lays down rules for the initiation and processing of credit
transfer and direct debit transactions denominated in euro within the
The regulation defines a clear timeline by when these rules need to be
implemented in all Member States. For the euro area, the final deadline
is 1 February 2014. The deadline for euro-denominated
payments in non-euro area countries will be 31 October 2016.
As of these dates, existing national euro credit transfer and direct
debit schemes will have to be phased out and replaced by SEPA
Each country must ensure that the migration from national payment
products and services to the new SEPA instruments is conducted in
accordance with the regulation. However, the market situation and the
migration speed may vary greatly from country to country. Therefore, country-specific
requirements may differ from the requirements set by the
regulation. Individual national timelines may be longer or shorter than
the general European level.
On 9 January 2014 the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation amending
Regulation No 260/2012, proposing an additional transition period of
six months for the euro area. The ECB published a press statement and a
legal opinion on the proposal. On 26 February 2014 Regulation (EU) No 248/2014 of the
European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No
260/2012 concerning the migration to Union-wide credit transfers and
direct debits was officially adopted.
|31 March 2012
||Regulation No 260/2012 entered into force; pan-European
reachability; phasing-out of €50,000 ceiling for equal charges to
|1 November 2012
||Cross-border transaction MIFs (multilateral interchange fees)
were eliminated for direct debits.
|1 February 2014
||SEPA migration deadline for SEPA credit transfer and SEPA direct
debit within the euro area; no BIC (business identifier code) to be
required for national payments.
|1 August 2014
||End of six month grace period for migration to SEPA instruments
in 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.
|1 January 2016
||Migration deadline for SEPA credit transfers and direct debits in
Lithuania. Lithuania joined the euro area on 1 January 2015. As a
new euro area country, Lithuania has up to one year to complete the
|1 February 2016
||No BIC to be required for cross-border payments; niche products
|31 October 2016
||SEPA credit transfer and SEPA direct debit deadline for non-euro
|1 February 2017
||National transaction MIFs (multilateral interchange fees) to be
eliminated for direct debits.
Specific requirements for businesses and consumers
- Rules and standards for all credit transfers and direct
debits denominated in euro
The regulation stipulates
rules and sets standards for all credit transfers and direct debits
denominated in euro within the EU where the payment service provider
(a PSP is a bank or other supplier that offers payment services) is
located in the EU.
- International Bank Account Number
International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is the standard governing
European bank account numbers. By February 2014, the IBAN will be the
sole payment account identifier for national and cross-border credit
transfers and direct debits in euro within the EU.
- Business Identifier Code
Identifier Code (BIC) may still be required until 1 February 2014 for
domestic payments and 1 February 2016 for cross-border payments.
Member States may defer the requirement relating to the provision of
the BIC for national payment transactions until 1 February 2016.
- Pan-European reachability
providers cannot reject a SEPA credit transfer or SEPA direct debit
transaction if they currently accept equivalent transactions carried
out by national schemes.
- Free choice of payment locations
be restricted in choosing from which account in Europe they would like
to make credit transfers or direct debits in euro. Neither can payees
be forced to receive credit transfers or direct debits in euro in an
account held in a specific country.
- Additional debtor protection measures for direct debits
Consumers may instruct their payment service provider on how to handle
incoming collections by specific billers. They may draw up black lists
or white lists of billers, set maximum amounts, or specify payment
intervals. Additionally, they can block any direct debit collections
from their payment account. In cases where a mandate does not provide
for the right to a refund, consumers may instruct their PSPs to check
whether the amount and periodicity of each incoming direct debit
transaction is equal to the amount and periodicity agreed on the
- Principle of equal charges
providers must apply equal charges to comparable cross-border and
domestic payments in euro within the European Union (Regulation No 924/2009). This principle of
equal charges has been reinforced by the end-date regulation (Regulation No 260/2012), which has eliminated
the € 50,000 ceiling under which equal charges could previously only
- Resolution of conflicts and complaints
States are to designate the competent authorities responsible for
ensuring compliance with the regulation and establish bodies for the
resolution of conflicts and complaints during the migration period.
Specific requirements for businesses only
- ISO20022 XML message standard
The use of the
ISO20022 XML message standard is mandatory: i) between payment service
providers; and ii) for the bundled transmission of credit transfers
and direct debits in euro by business users that are not
microenterprises (microenterprises have less than ten staff members
and a turnover or a balance sheet total of up to €2 million).
- Multilateral interchange fees eliminated for direct debits
Multilateral interchange fees (MIFs are fees
applied between payment service providers in some Member States when
passing on individual direct debits) are being eliminated for direct
debits in euro. Such fees will be eliminated by 1 February 2017 for
national payments and were eliminated on 1 November 2012 for
cross-border payments. This could also lower the visible transaction
fees for payees, to whom the costs of such MIFs are often passed on by
their service providers.