What is SEPA IBAN-Only?
SEPA stands for Single Euro Payments Area. It is the area in which individuals and businesses can make and receive card and electronic payments in euros across Europe simply, cheaply and efficiently, regardless of their location in Europe. An IBAN (International Bank Account Number) is a standardised way to allow overseas banks to easily handle the account number and bank identifier of a beneficiary in another country.
To make a European cross border payment, customers need to quote an IBAN – an international bank account number which offers a simple method for checking the validity of the beneficiary’s bank account number for cross-border payment transactions.
Since October 2016, it has been compulsory for SEPA payments to be processed using only a customer’s IBAN (International Bank Account Number). This change, known as SEPA IBAN-Only has helped reduce the instances of payment errors by encouraging more SEPA payments to be made electronically – through Straight Through Processing (STP) – minimising the need for manual intervention.
Pay.UK, liaising with the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has been responsible for implementing the nationwide (SEPAIO) solution.
Finding a UK SEPA BIC from the IBAN
In order to find the UK SEPA BIC for an individual IBAN please use the SEPAIO look up utility below.
SEPA IBAN-Only Directory
The SEPA IBAN-Only (SEPAIO) Directory provides Payment Service Providers (PSPs) with a utility for deriving the BIC (Bank Identifier Code) from the IBAN (International Bank Account Number) for SEPA payments in the UK.
Pay.UK owns the Directory that SWIFT developed and built through its SWIFT reference data platform. Under the SEPA regulation (EU) No 260/2012, there is a requirement for PSPs that are currently reachable for euro credit transfers or Direct Debits to meet the reachability requirements in the regulation. The Directory helps UK PSPs to comply, by ensuring the correct BIC can be derived from a given GB IBAN.
The data in the Directory is supplied and validated by participant PSPs, and accounts for over 97% of UK SEPA Reachable BICs listed. See below for a list of current participants. Information on how to use the directory, become a participant PSP or subscribe to use the data in the Directory is given below.
If you are interested in participating or subscribing, please contact SEPAIO_Ops@wearepay.uk.
The vast majority of SEPA reachable UK PSPs participate in this Directory, which represents over 97% of UK SEPA reachable BICs. It is the most accurate source of UK SEPA BIC data as it is maintained, validated and updated regularly by participant PSPs. You can view a list of current participants by following the link below.
How to Join
If you are a UK SEPA reachable PSP, or are planning to become SEPA reachable, you should consider participating in the SEPA IBAN-only Directory. Click below for more information.
Subscribing to the Directory
The SEPAIO Directory holds over 22,300 participant PSP SEPA BIC records and can be downloaded as a Directory File (monthly or daily) or can be accessed via an API (Application Progamming Interface) subject to an annual subscription fee. Click below for more information.
What is SEPA IBAN-only? The European Payments Council’s website offers further information regarding the SEPA IBAN-Only requirement. It also provides external links to each of the SEPA countries’ websites, where they provide information relating to SEPAIO.
UK Finance is the UK’s National Adherence Support Organisation (NASO). This means UK Finance helps UK-based PSPs with their applications to adhere to the EPC’s SEPA Credit Transfer Schemes and the SEPA Direct Debit Schemes. Any institution that meets the appropriate criteria outlined in the SEPA Scheme rulebooks can apply to become a SEPA Scheme participant. For further information please email NASO@ukfinance.org.uk
For any specific queries about your account or SEPA payments, please contact the relevant PSP that holds the account that is sending/receiving the payment.