What’s a SEPA transfer?

3 min read

SEPA is an acronym for the Single Euro Payments Area, an EU-inspired payment initiative designed to make cross-border bank transfers in euros simpler and more efficient. SEPA covers all EU countries as well as payments in euros to some other European countries, including Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino.

Typically, SEPA transfers are as easy to make as domestic transfers, which means they’re simple, quick, safe and most of the time, free. But if you’re unsure it’s always worth checking with your bank before making a SEPA transfer, as some do still charge to receive SEPA payments

Who are SEPA transfers for?

A single system for both domestic and cross-border transfers makes it easy for anyone to charge an account in one country directly for services provided in another, including paying for things with Direct Debit, credit transfer, debit and credit card payments and even withdrawing money from cash machines.

This is particularly useful if you’re working or studying in another SEPA country where you can use an existing account in your own country to get paid and pay your bills in the new country. So, essentially SEPA transfers are for anyone living or working within the EU and wider Europe.

Is a SEPA transfer instant?

SEPA transfers usually happen within two working days so although they’re very quick, they’re not instant.

A list of all SEPA countries:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lichtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • San Marino
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • UK

One thing to note

In April 2018, the European Commission presented a proposal to extend cheaper euro transfers and fairer currency conversions to consumers and businesses in non-euro countries as well. Under this proposal, all consumers and businesses in the EU would be able to transfer money cross-border, in euros, at the same cost as they would pay for a domestic transaction. The new rules would also make sure consumers are informed of the cost of a currency conversion before they make a payment abroad in a different currency than their own. We’ll keep you posted if this proposal goes through.

The Clear Currency effect:

Keep it simple


SEPA transfers cover EU based transfers made in euros.


They also include some non EU European countries.

Other transactions

SEPA transfers can include other transactions such as spot and forward contracts.

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