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SEPA: The Ultimate Guide

Here you will find all the necessary information for making transactions via SEPA, one of the largest global payment systems.

What is SEPA?

Single Euro Payments Area is a payment integration initiative of European countries, which simplifies the execution of transfers in euro, both in terms of speed and cost efficiency.

Euro is the only available currency in the SEPA system.

SEPA countries

SEPA covers 36 countries from both the EU and the EEA.

It spans across twenty-seven EU member states, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Additionally, SEPA extends its reach to countries outside the EU such as Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the Vatican City State, providing a comprehensive network for efficient euro payments.

SEPA and the UK

Despite Brexit, the UK has retained its SEPA membership.

In Europe, any customer can make a transfer Euro to a UK bank account using the SEPA system. Moreover, such transactions won’t require currency exchange or any relevant commissions. Euro accounts in the UK come with IBANs that are no different from the ones issued in Europe.

SEPA Instant Credit Transfer

SEPA Instant Credit Transfers are currently available in all the Eurozone states and offer users an unparagoned transaction execution speed of up to 10 seconds.

Key benefits of SEPA Instant Credit Transfer:

  • Immediate funds availability for the recipient;
  • Reduced fraud risk;
  • Real-time payment tracking;
  • Competitive fees;
  • A seamless customer experience;

What are the next steps to start using SEPA Instant transfers?

In order to start transacting, you need to open one of the following accounts with Satchel: business, merchant, freelance or personal.

As soon as your main account is active, you will need to apply for a separate SCT Inst account directly from your desktop Client office that can be accessed via this link

Please make sure that the recipient’s bank / EMI supports SCT Inst transfers. Otherwise, the transaction will be declined.

If you still do not have an account at Satchel, you can submit your application for a corporate, merchant, freelancer or personal account online. If you have any further inquiries, please contact us at [email protected] or by calling +370 5214 1818.

What are the limits on SEPA Instant payments?

Corporate clients can make payments of up to EUR 15,000 per transaction, while private clients have a limit of EUR 5,000. If the payment amount exceeds the limits specified above, the transaction will be not executed instantly and can be rejected. We advise you to familiarize yourself with our tariffs before initiating payments.

Can I send a transfer to an account that doesn’t support SEPA Instant?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to make a SEPA Instant transfer to a bank account that does not support the SEPA Instant scheme. Both the sender’s and recipient’s banks / EMIs must support SCT Inst in order for the transaction to be successful. If the recipient’s bank does not support the SCT Inst option, we recommend using a regular SEPA transfer instead.

SEPA Direct Debit vs SEPA Credit Transfer

SEPA and Direct Debit are two different ways to send money and come with different requirements.

SEPA Credit Transfer is a simple money transfer, which only requires the recipient’s IBAN. It is most frequently used to make single payments for services or goods within the SEPA network.

Alternatively, SEPA Direct Debit is managed by the customer’s bank, credit union or another money institution, on his behalf. This process works under the conditions of signed authorization.

Sending a Direct Debit payment doesn’t require immediate personal approval of every transaction by the customer.

Most of the Direct Debit transfers are recurring payments of a certain amount that are executed every month, or another set timeframe. Direct Debit is widely used to subscribe for services, pay debts or rent.

What is an IBAN and a BIC?

Within the SEPA system, all transactions require the sender’s and beneficiary’s IBAN, or International Bank Account Number, which is a unique code that serves as an address from and to which the payment is sent. An IBAN contains the bank identifier, the country code, and the account number in the bank / EMI.

In different countries IBANs may contain extra letters together with digits. However, the length and overall appearance is generally identical.

Business Identifier Code, or BIC is a unique short code that serves for the identification of banks, their branches, EMIs, credit unions, and other money institutions. For SEPA within the Eurozone, these are usually not needed, but sometimes a bank / EMI may require this information to issue Direct Debit payments.


SWIFT is another cross-border wire transfer network, which is accessible from pretty much anywhere. Its rules are practically identical to those of SEPA. However, SWIFT transactions are executed in pretty much any currency.

Unlike SEPA, SWIFT is not free. Any bank is allowed to set and charge commissions, for both incoming and outgoing transactions. Not all financial institutions are connected to SWIFT without third parties, but instead use correspondent banks that act on their behalf, following mutual agreements. Thus, one simple transaction may sometimes be subject to fees from a couple of different institutions.

Another difference is transaction speed. While SEPA usually takes 1-3 business days to be executed, some SWIFT transactions may take up to 5 working days.

It is worth mentioning that since these two methods are different, SWIFT transfer cannot be received on a SEPA account, and vice versa.

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