SEPA Transfers: How to Send Money Within the Eurozone
SEPA is a fast, easy, and secure way to send money overseas. But, as enticing as it may sound, a SEPA transfer is just one of countless cross-border money transfer options available today.
So what is a SEPA transfer, how does it work and how does it compare to other money transfer solutions? In this article we explain everything you need to know about the Single Euro Payments Area. Let’s dive in!
What is a SEPA transfer?
Like the name suggests, the Single Euro Payments Area is a mechanism that enables people and businesses in the SEPA zone to send and receive money transfers in euros from one bank account to another.
First introduced in 2008, SEPA brought the simplicity of domestic bank-to-bank transfers to cross-border funds transfers.
You can think of SEPA as a simpler, faster, and cheaper version of SWIFT specifically created for the eurozone.
If you frequently make international wire transfers you might guess why there was a need for an alternative money transfer system. The benefits of SEPA over SWIFT and other payment methods are quite evident.
First, the transfer speed: with SEPA, money is usually delivered within 24 hours.
Second, lower costs: for a SEPA transfer, banks have to charge the same fee they would charge in a domestic transaction, making SEPA a much more affordable option. Plus, there are generally no restrictions on the amount that can be transferred.
And third, simplicity: sending money can be done using only the recipient’s account number (IBAN, which is a major simplification compared to SWIFT transfers.
How do I know if I can make a SEPA transfer?
Presently, SEPA includes the 27 European Union states plus the UK, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Iceland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.
Any bank account owner in a SEPA country can make a SEPA transfer. You don’t need a specific type of bank account since most banks in the SEPA zone perform SEPA transfers as a standard type of transfer.
Due to the transaction speed, low costs, and convenience, SEPA transfers are your best transfer option when sending euros to another SEPA country.
Types of SEPA money transfers
Under SEPA, two instruments are available: direct debit and credit transfer.
The SEPA credit transfer (SCT)
A SEPA credit transfer is a single payment made towards a SEPA recipient. The receiving bank will typically get the transfer on the same day if the payment is initiated before the bank’s cut-off time.
You can do a credit transfer in euros even if the country you send from or to doesn’t have the euro as their official currency (for example Norway, Poland, or the UK), as long as it participates in SEPA.
If the country is not in SEPA your bank will treat the transfer as a standard international money transfer.
The SEPA direct debit (SDD)
This is a debit system allowing merchants to collect payments in euros from SEPA bank accounts.
A SEPA direct debit transfer is an automatic payment initiated by the merchant and is only done in euros, even if the account is in a different currency.in this case, the bank will convert the currency to euros.
A currency conversion might entail additional charges from your bank for having to perform the exchange. To make sure you don’t get charged for currency exchange when sending money overseas, try Fin.do.
SEPA direct debit can also be used to collect payments from other businesses under the so-called SEPA B2B direct debit scheme. You can read more about the Business to Business direct debit option here.
How to make a SEPA transfer?
If you live in the SEPA zone you can most likely make a SEPA transfer from any of your existing bank accounts since the majority of banks have adhered to the system.
If you are not entirely sure though, you can double check with your bank or consult the SEPA members register.
To make a SEPA transfer you just need to follow a few simple steps:
- Log in to your online banking account as you would for any other bank transfer
- Set up your transfer including the recipient’s details and amount you wish to transfer
- Add your recipient’s IBAN (bank account number)
- Confirm the information and send
Your money should arrive within a day.
How much do SEPA transfers cost?
For a SEPA money transfer your bank will charge you the same fee as for a local money transfer.
So, for example, if you send money from the UK to Lithuania you will pay the same fee as if you sent money to another bank account in the UK.
In most cases, there is no transfer fee for SEPA payments so your transfer will be free of charge. But this depends on your bank’s policies.
How long will it take?
The standard processing time of a SEPA payment is 24 hours (in most cases) or 48 hours, depending on bank cut-off times, business days, and holidays.
This is considerably faster than SWIFT transfers, which can take up to 5 days to complete.
Are there better alternatives to SEPA?
Of course, there are alternative ways to send money overseas such as SWIFT, digital wallets, or money transfer apps. Each method has benefits and drawbacks, so you should carefully consider your options before choosing the right one for you.
SEPA vs. SWIFT
SWIFT is a financial messaging system which allows sending money across the globe and is pretty much the standard way to send and receive money internationally.
At the core, SEPA and SWIFT are very similar; they are both used to move funds between different countries, from one bank account to another.
Major differences between the two systems can be seen when it comes to coverage and speed.
SWIFT money transfers take notoriously long to arrive and require a lot of detailed and accurate information about the recipient and the receiving bank. SEPA transfers, on the other hand, only require the recipient’s bank account number (IBAN) to be provided.
Let’s look at some of the main differences between SEPA and SWIFT:
|SEPA money transfer||SWIFT money transfer|
|Supported countries||Limited to 36 countries||Works worldwide|
|Currency||Only works with euros (€)||Works with any currency|
|Fee||Typically low or no fees||High fees and currency exchange costs|
|Speed||Takes 24-48 hours to complete||Takes 1-5 business days to complete|
|Recipient information||Smooth sending process||Very detailed recipient and bank information|
Fin.do vs. SEPA
So given the advantages that SEPA has over SWIFT, are there better ways to send money abroad than SEPA?
The short answer is yes.
While SEPA has undeniable benefits compared to international wire transfers, there are services which can provide even faster money delivery, wider coverage, and ease of use, all at the same time.
Fin.do is a new and easier way to send and receive money online worldwide without compromising on security, convenience, or cost.
The Fin.do app enables instant money transfers in any currency, anywhere in the world, with no currency conversion fees. So when you need to send money overseas to a non-eurozone country, Fin.do is the best option if you want your transfer to securely arrive within minutes.
Here’s how Fin.do compares to SEPA money transfers:
|Transfer time||24 - 48h||A few minutes|
|Availability||36 countries||50+ countries and growing|
|Supported currencies||Euros (€)||160 currencies|
|Currency conversion||Usually not necessary||No currency conversion charges, no double currency conversion|
|Costs||Depending on the bank||One unique fee upfront|
|Supported payment methods||From bank account to bank account||Card-to-card|
|Ease of use||Recipient’s information and IBAN||Recipient’s card number|
To sum up, SEPA is a money transfer system designed to simplify cross-border payments in the European Union area and beyond. It is currently available in 36 states and allows consumers and businesses to make same-day transactions in euros at low cost.
SEPA has two main payment instruments; credit transfers, which enable one-time money transfers to a recipient, and a direct debit scheme typically used by merchants to make recurring money withdrawals.
Compared to traditional SWIFT money transfers, SEPA has made cross-border payments faster, more affordable, and smoother. But even so, SEPA is inherently limited due to the reduced number of countries it serves and the fact it only processes payments in one currency.
If you are an employee, student, or professional making transfers outside of the eurozone, card-to-card money transfer solution Fin.do is a more suitable option for you. With Fin.do, your money will reach your recipient within minutes, no matter when or which currency you send.
This concludes our SEPA transfers walk-through. We hope it was useful. Happy transfers!
Who can get a SEPA bank account?
You don’t need a specific type of bank account to make SEPA transfers. They are readily available for you if you have a bank account in the SEPA zone and your bank is a SEPA member.
If you are not sure whether your bank is a SEPA member, check with your bank or consult the SEPA participant institutions register.
What are the SEPA transfer limits?
SEPA credit transfers have a transfer limit of 999,999,999.99 EUR. The maximum amount you can transfer as a SEPA Instant Credit Transfer is 100.000 EUR as of July 2020.
SEPA direct debits do not have a transfer limit. You can read more about the SEPA transfer rules here.
Can I send multiple currencies using SEPA transfers?
You can make a SEPA transfer in another currency as long as your transaction is made inside the SEPA zone and between SEPA institutions.
However, a SEPA transfer can only be delivered in euros which means your funds will be converted into euros by the one of the banks processing the transaction before it reaches your recipient.