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SEPA Countries – Where can you Transfer Money using SEPA

Oliver
Oliver February 2020 5 min

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SEPA Countries

First, what is SEPA? It is an acronym for the Single Euro Payments Area and it is a simplified payment system for making money transfers in the Euro currency between SEPA countries

So who created SEPA and why?

Before SEPA was introduced, international payments were made using the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) system. SWIFT was developed in the early 1970s as a network for sending messages about financial transactions.

With the introduction of the Euro single currency, the European Union (EU) wanted to improve the SWIFT system and make Euro money transfers quick, simple and cheap. The European Union introduced SEPA to make this happen.

Open a Penta Business Account to benefit from cost-effective SEPA payments for your business.

Which Countries are in SEPA

At the time of writing, February 2020, the 27 EU member states of the EU, plus the United Kingdom, and the four members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, are all SEPA countries. In addition, the principalities of Andorra, Monaco and San Marino are members of SEPA.

We have deliberately mentioned the United Kingdom separately because, at the time of writing, the UK has left the EU and is in the transition period of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA). Depending on the outcome of negotiations, the UK may remain a SEPA country or it may leave. This will not become clear until the negotiations are completed, which is scheduled for the 31st of December 2020.

As you can see from the list of SEPA countries below, not all members of the system use the Euro as their national currency. However, banks in non-Euro countries can accept Euro payments made using the SEPA system.

Country National currency
Andorra Euro
Austria Euro
Belgium Euro
Bulgaria Bulgarian Lev
Croatia Croatian Kuna
Cyprus Euro
Czech Republic Czech Koruna
Denmark Danish Krone
Estonia Euro
Finland Euro
France Euro
Germany Euro
Greece Euro
Hungary Hungarian Forint
Iceland Icelandic Krona
Ireland Euro
Italy Euro
Latvia Euro
Liechtenstein Swiss Franc
Lithuania Euro
Luxembourg Euro
Malta Euro
Monaco Euro
Netherlands Euro
Norway Norwegian Krone
Poland Polis Zloty
Portugal Euro
Romania Romanian Leu
San Marino Euro
Slovakia Euro
Slovenia Euro
Spain Euro
Sweden Swedish Krona
Switzerland Swiss Franc
UK Pound Sterling

How does SEPA work?

SEPA utilizes the International Bank Account Number(IBAN) to enable transfers between bank accounts. You have probably heard of SWIFT transfers, which also use the IBAN, but in addition, a SWIFT transfer needs the BIC code. SWIFT was the system used to make international money transfers before SEPA came along. 

To arrange a SEPA transfer, login to your Penta Business Account, select the “Payments” option and select “Make a Payment”. Here, you will have to enter your recipient’s details. For a SEPA payment, this is the IBAN, beneficiary name, and the amount you wish to transfer. For security, Penta will send you an SMS message with a code to verify the transfer. Enter the code and your transfer is on its way. Arranging a SEPA transfer with Penta is simplicity itself.

But what are the differences between SEPA and SWIFT?

SEPASWIFT

Currencies used
EuroMany currencies
Where can you transfer to/from
Between SEPA countries only
Almost

How long does the
transfer take
SEPA guarantees 48 hours or less during business days, but it is often quickerUsually between 3 to 5 days
Cost of transfer

Very cheap or freeCosts can vary, depending on where the money is being sent and how many intermediary banks are involved

As you can see from above, if you are making a Euro transfer, then it makes sense to use SEPA.

There are two types of SEPA transfer, SEPA credit transfer, and SEPA Direct Debit.

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SEPA Credit Transfer

A SEPA credit transfer is a simple electronic movement of money in Euro between banks. If you have a one-off invoice to pay in Euro, then a credit transfer is the system you would use. The European Payments Council oversees more than 19 billion SEPA transfers each year. A SEPA transfer is ideal for international payments in Euro.

SEPA Direct Debit

SEPA direct debit is an automated system that allows you to make regular payments. To set them up, the company you wish to pay will send you a mandate to sign and return. Once in place, the direct debit will ensure that you don’t miss a payment, so it is ideal for rent, electricity bills, and other regular payments.

Cost of a SEPA transfer

One of the original requirements of the SEPA system was to make transfers cheap. The EU stipulated that a SEPA transfer must not cost more than the cost of a local currency transfer within the sending country. In many cases, this means sending money via SEPA is either free or costs just one Euro. 

Most commonly asked questions

When can I use a SEPA transfer?

You would use a SEPA transfer when sending a payment in Euro between SEPA countries.

What information do I need to arrange a SEPA transfer?

All you require to make a SEPA transfer from your Penta account is the recipient’s IBAN, name, and the amount you wish to send.

What happens if you send Euros to a non-Euro bank account?

If a Euro transfer is made into a non-Euro bank account, then the receiving bank will convert the money into the currency of the receiving account. This may not be at a favourable rate, so it is usually best to avoid doing this. It will normally be better, in this case, to arrange the currency conversion to the recipient’s currency before making the transfer. A Penta Business Account gives you the facilities for international money transfers.

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