From 31 October 2016, you will have new rights when you make credit transfers or pay direct debits in euros to an account in a Single European Payments Area (SEPA) country. The payment service provider (eg your bank) will also have to meet new requirements.
SEPA countries include the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) Member States and some non-EEA jurisdictions such as Switzerland. See the full list of SEPA countries.
The following will apply:
- When you make a payment in euros, you will no longer have to provide the Business Identifier Code (BIC) of the person or business you are paying. Your provider will only ask you for their International Bank Account Number (IBAN). Similarly, anyone wishing to pay you in euros will only need your IBAN.
- You will be able to tell your provider how they should deal with payment requests in euros from specific billers. So, for example, you will be able to block direct debits from certain (or all) billers, or ask your provider to only accept direct debits from certain billers. You will also be able to set maximum payment amounts, and specify acceptable payment intervals.
- If your direct debit mandate does not give you the right to a refund, you will be able to instruct your provider to check whether the amount and timing of each incoming direct debit transaction is the same as you originally agreed.
- The person or company billing you will no longer be able to specify that you can only pay them from an account located in a specific Member State. For example, a utility company in another SEPA country will not be able to insist that you pay them by direct debit from a bank account based in their country, as opposed to a UK bank account.
Before the 31 October deadline, your payment service provider should already be complying with a range of existing obligations regarding payments in euros – eg, they have to charge you the same for a cross‐border euro payment within SEPA as they would for a national payment in euros.
This doesn’t mean, for example, that all banks will have to charge the same for payments in euro, or that your bank will have to offer payments in euro on the same terms as it would payments in sterling. Nor does it mean there is a limit to the fees firms can charge for such payments.
These are the main changes you should know about. There are other changes that will affect payment service providers. Many payment service providers will bring these changes in before the 31 October deadline. If your payment service provider offers the SEPA Schemes, it should be able to provide more information.
See the European Payments Council website for a full list of these providers in the UK and abroad.
Your options when things go wrong
The Financial Ombudsman Service is the UK’s designated out-of-court redress body for SEPA-related complaints and for payments-related complaints in general. On the ombudsman service's website you can:
Reporting to the FCA
If you believe that a business we regulate is not fulfilling its obligations under the SEPA regulation, you should consider reporting this to us, along with details of the relevant incident(s). You can email your report to us at email@example.com
If you are dealing with payment service providers (including branches of UK banks) based in another SEPA country, you will need to report your concerns to the competent authority in that country and refer any complaints to the appropriate body there.