Frequently asked questions about SEPA

With a network of offices across Europe and extensive global payments capabilities, HSBC delivers both the expertise and comprehensive product offering you need to take full advantage of the benefits and opportunities afforded by the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). Our dedicated SEPA specialists will guide you through the migration process with the end goal of helping you comply with new requirements and regulations as well as improve efficiency, reduce costs and gain greater control over cash and liquidity management.

General information on SEPA

1. What countries does SEPA cover?

SEPA covers 33 countries in Europe.

  • Eurozone countries in EU
    Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain
  • Non-Eurozone countries in EU
    Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Sweden, UK
  • EEA members
    Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway
  • Additional SEPA countries
    Monaco, Switzerland
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2. What are the key aspects of the SEPA End Date Regulation that will affect me?

Under the SEPA End Date Regulation local domestic file formats will be demised and all Credit Transfers and Direct Debits instructions will need to be in XML file format. This may require you to change the file format you currently submit, which might involve the engagement of your IT vendor. Whilst there are some countries that may have adopted a derogation to allow the processing of some local country formats beyond this date, we recommend that you begin to plan now in accordance with the 1st February 2014 date. Our team would be pleased to assist in planning and discuss these derogations with you further.

In addition to XML file formats, SEPA requires both Business Identifier Code (BIC) and International Bank Account Number (IBAN) details at the outset. The BIC is necessary only until 1 February 2014 (exclusions apply), and you may need to request these from your payment beneficiaries/Direct Debit debtors in preparation for this change.

For Direct Debits in particular, SEPA also introduces new obligations for the Creditor, e.g. obtaining a Unique Mandate Reference number and Creditor ID as well as the responsibility for managing mandates.

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3. What is the XML format?

XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language) is a standardised syntax for messages that emphasises simplicity, generality, and usability. It allows corporates’ back office systems to communicate efficiently with bank systems. From 1 February 2014 (exclusions apply), it will be a legal requirement for this format to be used for the exchange of all SEPA transactions between corporates and banks in the Eurozone.

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4. What do I need to do to prepare for this change?

  • Plan your migration as part of your 2013 deliverables
    Set up a dedicated SEPA project team and engage key stakeholders as early as possible to assess the scope and impact of the transition.
  • Engage suppliers and customers now
    Obtain BIC/IBAN details from payees and ensure that your BIC/IBAN details are added to your invoices for customers to use.
  • Engage your IT vendor to ensure that your ERP (back office) system is SEPA compliant
    E.g. Can your ERP system store BIC/IBAN details and produce XML format?
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5. I input payments directly to a country specific screen on HSBCnet, what will change?

The country specific screens will be replaced with a SEPA compliant screen in due course. A Eurozone screen can be made available to allow for SEPA compliant payments. Our migration team will be in touch with you to explain this and coordinate the change with you.

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6. How will HSBC help me?

To assist with a smooth transition, HSBC is offering you a dedicated team to understand your migration needs in detail and advise you on the steps to take to ensure you are SEPA compliant by the designated date. Our client migration team is in the process of initiating contact with all customers directly affected by SEPA requirements by the end of June 2013. Depending on your business needs, you will either receive a package by mail detailing next steps or will be contacted by phone to discuss the migration process. Our pan European presence, global XML expertise and state-of-the-art technical capabilities give you access to a comprehensive, coordinated delivery of SEPA.

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Contacts for expert advice on SEPA

External links
Austrian National Bank
Austrian Payments Council
European Payments Council

External links
SEPA government site of the Belgian Flemish Community
National Bank of Belgium

External links
European Central Bank
European Payments Council

External links
Central Bank of Cyprus
European Central Bank
European Payments Council

HSBC site
HSBC Czech Republic website

External links
European Central Bank
Czech national bank
European Payments Council

External links
European Central Bank
European Payments Council

External links
Eesti Pangaliit
European Payments Council
European Central Bank

External links
Bank of Finland
State Treasury
European Payments Council

HSBC site
HSBC France website

External links
Banque de France SEPA
SEPA France
Fédération Bancaire Française

HSBC site
HSBC Germany website

External links
Deutsche Bundesbank
German Association of Corporate Treasurers

HSBC site
HSBC Greece website

External links
Bank of Greece
European Central Bank

External links
SEPA Hungary
European Central Bank

External links
European Central Bank
European Payments Council

HSBC site
HSBC Ireland website

External links
European Central Bank
European Payments Council

External links
Associzione Bancaria Italiana
Banca d'Italia

External links
SEPA Latvia
Association of Latvian Commercial Banks
European Payments Council

External links
European Central Bank
European Payments Council

External links
Bank of Lithuania
European Central Bank
European Payments Council

External links
Banque centrale du Luxembourg

HSBC site
HSBC Malta

External links
Central Bank of Malta
European Central Bank

External links
European Central Bank

External links
SEPA Netherlands
European Central Bank

External links
European Central Bank
European Payments Council

HSBC site
HSBC Poland

External links
National Bank of Poland
Polish Bank Association

External links
Banco de Portugal
European Central Bank
European Payments Council

External links
Romanian Banking Association
Banca Nationala a Romaniei
European Payments Council

External links
National Bank of Slovakia
European Central Bank

External links
European Central Bank
European Payments Council
SEPA Slovenia

External links
SEPA Spain
Sociedad Española de Sistemas de Pago (Iberpay)

External links
Sveriges Riksbank
European Central Bank
European Payments Council

HSBC site
HSBC Switzerland Website

External links
SEPA Switzerland
European Central Bank
European Payments Council

HSBC site
HSBC UK

External links
UK Payments Administration
European Central Bank