Frequently Asked Questions

What is SEPA and what are its key objectives?

SEPA is an important EU regulatory initiative that simplifies payments and collections across Europe through a series of common standards and rules. It makes doing business easier and less expensive for companies and customers alike.

Its main objectives are to reduce the cost of payment flows, facilitate trade and commerce, and strengthen European trade competitiveness.

Which countries form SEPA?

There are 33 countries in total within SEPA, including EU member states and five other territories.

The 28 countries of the European Union are: Austria, Belgium, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland (Republic of Ireland), Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden.

The five other countries are: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway & Switzerland.

What currencies are eligible for SEPA?

Accounts may be held in euro or other SEPA currency, but transfer of funds between the payer's bank and the biller's bank always takes place in the euro currency. The foreign exchange element must take place at the originating bank – if coming from a non-euro account - or at the beneficiary bank, if being sent to a non-euro account.

What are the SEPA payment instruments?

There are three, including direct debits, credit transfers and cards.

Which currencies are eligible for SEPA payments?

SEPA payments only cover transactions in the euro currency.

How can my business benefit from SEPA?
  • you'll only need one account (your Danske Bank euro account) for all your euro transactions within SEPA
  • payments and collections can be streamlined into one standardised, simplified and improved process
  • the ISO 20022 XML file format, with its increased payment narrative and description field, can be used with other payment types which are available through Danske Bank
  • your business can enjoy improved liquidity, lower charges, boosted working capital management and improved access to new markets
  • new governing standards will enable more efficient payments and easier switching between banks

Does SEPA apply to all businesses?

SEPA applies to ALL customers, business and personal. All accounts will share the common standard of IBAN (International Bank Account Number) and BIC (Bank Identifier Code / SWIFT Code).

What is the SEPA timeframe?

SEPA has been introduced on a phased basis. Direct debit and credit transfer capabilities were rolled out across the 32 SEPA countries in 2008 and 2009 respectively. By February 1st 2014 (subject to government decision), it is planned that BIC and IBAN codes will replace Irish sort codes and account numbers for electronic payments. The Irish domestic clearing system (IRECC) will be replaced by EBA clearing on the same date.

Are you obliged to conform to SEPA standards?

There is no choice about conforming to the new SEPA standards. All companies must migrate their payments processes before the end-date of 1st February 2014.

If you are in need of help to convert your current files or DATA to a SEPA-compliant format, contact our SEPA Advisory Team.

You can email them at any time or call them on +353 1 484 2716.

What is the Common Global Implementation ISO 20022 initiative?

CGI is a co-operative initiative between banks, ERP vendors and customers, with the goal of creating standardised guides for ISO 20022 XML. This removes the risk of having many differing and counter-productive versions of ISO 20022 files in circulation.

As a member of the CGI initiative, Danske Bank Group fully supports standardisation. This includes payment initiation message, account report, account statement and debit-credit notification.

Regarding credit transfer payment initiation, we also support the following ISO20022 XML message:

  • pain.001.001.02 Customer Credit Transfer Initiation (CCT)
  • pain.002.001.02 Customer Payment Status Report (CPSR)
  • pain.008.001.02 – Customer SEPA Direct Debit initiation
  • pain.002.001.03 - Payment Status Report (PSR)
  • camt.055.001.01- Payment Cancellation Request (PCR)

Does ISO 20022 XML only support SEPA payments?

As a Danske Bank customer, ISO 20022 XML also allows you to create SEPA payments, domestic payments and non-SEPA cross border payments in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Poland, Germany, the UK and Ireland.

The ISO 20022 XML files can be exchanged via all the channels normally supported by Danske Bank Group, including SWIFT FileAct, Web Services and FTP/VPN.

In Russia and the Baltic countries, files can only be sent via Danske Bank Group's gateway, and are carried out as a Request for Transfer.

How can Danske Bank advise me?

Danske Bank is already processing SEPA Credit Payments and Direct Debits for customers, including single and bulk payments. Our experience ranges from Ireland to Northern Europe and from small businesses to large multinationals, and our depth of accumulated experience with the new system means that we can advise you on how best to manage a planned SEPA adoption in your business.

The impact and timing of SEPA adoption for you will depend on your specific business requirements, and on how you structure and manage your payment and collections operations.

What is IBAN, SWIFT and BIC and how do I find them?

What is an IBAN
IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number and is a number attached to all accounts in the EU countries plus Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Hungary. The IBAN is made up of a code that identifies the country the account belongs to, the account holder's bank and the account number itself. The IBAN makes it easier and faster to process cross-border payments.

An IBAN in Danske Bank
An IBAN in Danske Bank consists of 22 characters, which comprise the ISO country code + control key + sort code + the ordinary account number of 8 digits.

Below is an example of how and IBAN is constructed for a fictional account in Danske Bank, using sort code: 951501 Account Number:12345678

Example: Country code Control No. Sort code Account No.
IE 08 DABA951501 12345678

What is a BIC
A BIC (Bank Identifier Code) identifies the beneficiary's bank quickly and easily.
SWIFT owns and administers the BIC system. The BIC is the same as the bank's SWIFT address.

Please see the example in table below:

DABAIE2D IE 38 DABA 951888 12345678

BICs (SWIFT addresses) for divisions of the Danske Bank Group in various countries can be found at


More Information

To discuss how you can maximise the benefits that SEPA can bring to your business and how to start the changeover, please contact:

  • Your Relationship Manager or Cash Manager
  • Send a secure mail via Business eBanking
  • Alternatively email us at:

The following fact-sheets will give you more information on SEPA:

IPSO SEPA Creditors Guide
SEPA Frequently Asked Questions
SEPA Frequently Asked Questions - Consumers 
SEPA Migration Planning
SEPA for Groups and Subsidiary Companies
SEPA for Accounts Payable and Importers
SEPA for Accounts Receivable and Exporters
SEPA Direct Debit for Creditors
SEPA Direct Debit for Debtors
SEPA Credit Transfer
ISO 20022 XML
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About the Group
Danske Bank is part of the Danske Bank Group.

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