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Welcome to the FMB Chartered Accountants Blog. We answer all of your financial and accountancy questions, as well as keep you up-to-date with financial news.

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Welcome to the FMB Chartered Accountants Blog. We answer all of your financial and accountancy questions, as well as keep you up-to-date with the latest news from FMB.

Is Your Business Prepared For The SEPA Deadline?

David McArdle - Monday, November 11, 2013

An EU regulation set 1, February, 2014, as the date by which all users of electronic payments in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) must migrate from ‘domestic only’ payment systems to a pan-European equivalent. All businesses must conform to the new SEPA standards before the stated end-date of 1 February.

This means big changes for our banks, many software providers and approximately 50,000 businesses that make payroll or creditor payments, or collect direct debits electronically.

As quoted from, ‘The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) will simplify financial transactions and make doing business easier. It will apply across 33 European countries, including Ireland, and will make it easier for you to transfer or receive funds.’

Ireland’s national payment system for credit transfers (payroll, creditor payments) and direct debits will close for business on the 31 January 2014 and be replaced by two pan-European schemes:

  • the SEPA credit transfer scheme (SCT) and

  • the SEPA direct debit scheme (SDD).

Payment file formats will need to change from the current domestic ‘Standard 18’ to the new SEPA ‘ISO 20022 XML’ formats.

In addition our National sorting codes and bank account numbers will be replaced by BICs (Bank identifier codes) and IBANs (International bank account numbers).

These technical changes will help standardise payment messaging across SEPA and lead to more efficient payment processing.

A benefit of SEPA is that next-day value is guaranteed for funds transferred between accounts in SEPA.

How to prepare for the change over

  • You need to contact your bank and software provider.

  • Your software provider will advise you when their software updates will be completed.

  • Your bank will be able to advise you on any actions that you need to take to make sure that you are fully SEPA-compliant in good time for the 1 February 2014 deadline.

If you haven’t conformed to the new SCT and SDD technical standards by the 31 January 2014, your bank will not be able to process your transactions. This will cause disruption for your business so early planning and migration to the new schemes is highly recommended.

For more SEPA information visit

For information and advice, email us at or call 01 645 2002. You can also sign up for our quarterly newsletter full of tips and updates on topical issues which are of interest to our clients and followers.

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