Introduction to SEPA

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is an EU payments integration initiative and consists of the 27 EU Member States plus 3 EEA countries, and also includes Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino and – as of 1 January 2021 – the UK, via non-EEA EU agreements.

Both the SEPA Core and B2B Direct Debit Schemes are already mandatory in euro domicile countries, replacing existing legacy Direct Debit Schemes.

SEPA holds vast opportunities and benefits for Creditors working with European customers and collecting payments in euros, representing a single market of over €11,000B with 4,000+ participating banks and 210M+ households.

About SEPA Direct Debit

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A SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) awards a Creditor (the party collecting) the authority to collect euro funds from the bank account of a Debtor (the party paying) using the SEPA Direct Debit Scheme.

SDDs can be used for single (one-off) or recurring collections and it’s a safe and efficient payments scheme for collections in euros.

About the European Payments Council (EPC)

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The European Payments Council (EPC) is the decision-making and coordination body of the European banking industry in relation to payments. Created by the industry, and at the request of European Union (EU) authorities, the EPC commits to developing and updating the SEPA Scheme rulebooks, helping to realise the vision of harmonised electronic euro payments and a true Single Euro Payments Area.

SEPA Direct Debit History

  • 1999
  • 2009
  • 2014
  • 2016

Introduction of the euro in 11 EU countries

European Payments Council (EPC) launches SEPA SDD Core and B2B Schemes

SEPA becomes dominant in countries operating the euro

Deadline for all eurozone countries to be SEPA DD ready and adhere to scheme

99.9% of direct debit already migrated to SEPA in the eurozone

All ‘euro-denominated’ payments can only be collected using SEPA.

Non-euro countries e.g. UK, must use SEPA procedures for SDD collections (deadline Oct 2016)

SEPA Direct Debit Benefits

Benefits to Creditors


  1. Controlled collections/ on known date

  2. Aid to New Business and Customer retention

  3. Reduced admin

  4. Cost-efficient/ Single payment process across SEPA

Benefits to Debtors


  1. Familiar & Trusted payment option

  2. Convenient & Fast (eSignatures permitted)

  3. The SEPA Direct Debit Refund promise

  4. Flexibility, allows for payment plans, better budgeting & peace of mind

SEPA Direct Debit Changes following Brexit

From 1 January 2021, following Brexit, there have been some changes to the way SEPA operates for UK businesses. Details have published on the EPC website for Bacs SEPA payment scheme users.


Do you have more questions?

Clear Direct Debit is a Bacs Accredited Training Provider and also offers Bacs Accredited Consultancy Services. Contact us today if you would like more information on this topic.

Questions about SEPA Direct Debits?

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