Help Centre Sending & receiving payments

What is the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)?

SEPA (the Single Euro Payments Area) is a standardised format for handling cross-border Euro (EUR) bank transfers.

At 3S Money, you can receive SEPA payments free of charge, while sending a SEPA payment costs €1 (regardless of how much you're sending).

You can easily organise high-value global payments through our International Business Account - check if your business is eligible for an account here.
For more about SEPA - such as transfer times, member countries and more - read on below.

Why was the Euro and SEPA created?

The European Union was created to bring its member nations together, allowing the seamless movement of people and money across their borders.

It was founded in the hope that it would lead to cultural and economic benefits for everyone. At the centre of this was the development of the Euro as a single currency (and subsequently adopted by most members as their national currency). 
SEPA was created to facilitate Euro payments, and now handles in the region of 43 billion transactions a year. There are four different payment-processing schemes:
  • SEPA Credit Transfer

  • SEPA Instant Credit Transfer

  • SEPA Direct Debit Core

  • SEPA Direct Debit Business-to-Business

Now you know what SEPA is, let’s cover off some important details it is worth knowing. 

Which countries are part of SEPA?

Currently there are 36 members of SEPA. They are: 
  • All 27 members of the European Union

  • The four members of the European Free Trade Association

  • The Vatican, San Marino, Monaco, and Andorra

  • The UK remains a member of SEPA, despite no longer being part of the European Union

map showing member countries of the SEPA zone
map showing member countries of the SEPA zone

How much are SEPA transfer fees?

At 3S Money, it's free to receive SEPA payments, and just €1 to send one - regardless of the size of the payment you're sending.

The aim of SEPA was to make the cost of EU cross-border payments the same as domestic transfers within those respective countries. In general, this means receiving a SEPA payment is free.
However, some banks may charge a fee to send a SEPA payment. This is usually because domestic transfers within that country have a fee attached to them. Any charge for handling a SEPA transfer may be paid by the recipient or both the sender and recipient. 
We help businesses around the world get access to SEPA by using virtual IBANs connected to a multi-currency International Business Account. You can find out more about international money transfers and how we manage them here.

What are SEPA transfer times like? 

The time it takes for a SEPA payment to be processed varies depends on the scheme used. 
  • A standard SEPA Credit Transfer typically takes one business day, much like a domestic money transfer - but be aware that weekends and national bank holidays may impact this.

  • A payment made via SEPA Instant Credit Transfer should complete within just a few seconds. Weekends and bank holidays should have no impact on this.

  • SEPA Direct Debit core payments will usually complete within two working days.

  • Business to Business Direct Debit payments usually take three working days. 

Are SEPA and SWIFT the same?  

SEPA and SWIFT are similar, in that they provide a standardised method of handling international money transfers. The key difference is that SEPA payments can only be made in EUR. They’re also generally much faster for the reasons stated above. 
A SWIFT payment, on the other hand, can be made between any bank in any country if they support the SWIFT service. They can also be made in most currencies, so you’re not restricted to only paying or receiving in EUR. 
If you’re looking to make payments in Euros within the EU and other members of SEPA, have a look at our range of virtual IBANs which will let you handle SEPA payments with ease.