What is a SEPA transfer?

All the information on SEPA transfers

Updated over a week ago

You've probably heard of SEPA Credit Transfers but don't know what they are really for? SEPA Credit Transfers are a Europe-wide transfer system for transferring euros within the European Union. It is one of the fastest, cheapest and safest ways to move your money within the 36 member states of the SEPA zone and their associated territories.

What does SEPA mean? 🇪🇺

SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) is a network initiated by the European Union that aims to make bank transfers in euros across Europe as easy as domestic transfers.

Which countries are included in SEPA? 🌍

SEPA currently has 36 Member States:

  • The 27 European Union countries such as Spain, France, Germany, Italy;

  • The 4 European Free Trade Association countries (EFTA): Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland;

  • 4 microstates that have special monetary agreements with the EU: Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City;

  • The United Kingdom, although it has left the EU.

How does a SEPA bank transfer work? 🚀

There are three types of SEPA bank transfers, all available with Qonto, which offer three different services:

  • The standard SEPA credit transfer

  • The instant SEPA credit transfer (available for incoming and outgoing transfers at Qonto).

  • The SEPA direct debit (SDD)

The standard SEPA credit transfer uses the IBAN (International Bank Account Number) and possibly the BIC (Bank Identifier Code) of the sender's and beneficiary's bank accounts to transfer money from one account to the other.

Once the transfer has been authorized, the recipient must receive the money within one to two working days after the payment has been made for a standard SEPA and within 10 seconds for an instant SEPA.

For example, in case you want to send €1000 from your Qonto account to an account in Poland, you can use a SEPA transfer. Indeed, both countries are part of the SEPA zone.

Qonto will transfer the €1000 from your bank account to your beneficiary's account in Poland thanks to the IBAN and BIC, which identifies the bank account. The €1000 are deposited on your partner's bank account by his Polish bank, all this within 10 seconds with an Instant SEPA, or 24 to 72 hours with a standard SEPA, depending on the time of the transfer initiation.

Complete list of 36 SEPA Member States

Eurozone countries in the European Union (20):

  • Austria

  • Belgium

  • Croatia

  • Cyprus

  • Estonia

  • Finland (including the Åland Islands)

  • France (including French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin (French part), Réunion and Saint Pierre and Miquelon)

  • Germany

  • Greece

  • Ireland

  • Italy

  • Latvia

  • Lithuania

  • Luxembourg

  • Malta

  • Netherlands

  • Portugal (including Azores and Madeira)

  • Slovakia

  • Slovenia

  • Spain (including the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla)

Non-euro area countries in the European Union (7):

SEPA currently applies in a complementary way to national credit transfers in SEPA countries that are not part of the euro area (see below). In these countries, it is still possible to receive payments via both systems: SEPA for payments in euro and the national payment system in the country's currency:

  • Bulgaria

  • Czech Republic

  • Denmark

  • Hungary

  • Poland

  • Romania

  • Sweden

SEPA countries outside the EU, members of EFTA (4):

  • Iceland

  • Liechtenstein

  • Norway

  • Switzerland

Microstates that have special monetary agreements with the EU (4):

  • Andorra

  • Monaco

  • San Marino

  • Vatican City

As well as the United Kingdom (including Gibraltar).

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