Single European Payments Area (SEPA)

SEPA is an initiative of the European banking industry to make all electronic payments across European countries as easy as domestic payments are now. SEPA will standardise euro electronic payments across Europe.

How does this affect me?

From 1 February 2014, you must start using SEPA compliant bank details for all domestic direct debits and credit transfers. This also affects any electronic payments you make or receive to international companies based in the SEPA region, where the euro is the primary currency. Your services are fully compliant with SEPA legislation, you simply need to enter some additional information depending on your circumstances and the service you subscribe to.


Under SEPA legislation, you must include Branch Identifier Code (BIC) and International Bank Account Number (IBAN) on all electronic payments. These replace the traditional bank sort codes and account numbers. If you’re not sure what your BIC and IBAN are, please contact your bank. For more information about the BIC and IBAN and the format they need to be in, please refer to the BIC and IBAN formats section.

Your Sage direct debit

If you have an existing direct debit with us, don’t worry, you don’t need to change anything as your details are still valid.

If you haven’t yet entered your direct debit details, or if you want to change them, you need to enter additional SEPA information, including your BIC and IBAN. For more information about how to do this, please refer to our Billing and payment details article.

Your customers and suppliers should be able to provide you with their BIC and IBANs along with their bank details.

BIC and IBAN formats

If you’re not sure what BIC or IBAN to enter, please contact your bank.


The BIC is used in place of the traditional sort code and is used to identify the bank or financial institution. It’s between 8 and 11 characters and includes:

  • The institution code – This is four letters and is unique to the financial institution.
  • The two letter country code for the location of the bank, for example IE.
  • Location code – This is two characters and identifies a location within the relevant country, for example a city, province or time zone.
  • Branch code – This is an optional three character code that identifies a subdivision of the bank or financial institution in the relevant country.

The IBAN is used instead of the traditional bank account number to identify the bank account. It can be up to 34 characters and includes:

  • The two letter country code
  • Check digits – Two numbers that help to confirm the integrity of the basic bank account number.
  • The basic bank account number – This can be up to 30 characters. The number of characters is specific to each country and includes the bank or branch identification code.