Financial transactions with other EU countries
Under EU law bank charges for financial transactions should be the same within EU member states and between EU states.
The basic principle is that the charges for financial transactions must be the same, for payments of the same value, whether the payment is national or cross-border. You cannot be charged extra fees (for example, annual fees or once-off charges) for using your card in other EU member states.
For information about consumer protections for electronic payments and Strong Customer Authentication, read about the Payment Services Directive.
Regulation (EC) No 924/2009 deals with charges for cross-border and national payments in euro. It applies to payments in euro in all EU member states.
The Regulation applies to all electronically-processed payments, including:
- Credit transfers
- Direct debits
- Cash withdrawals at cash dispensers (ATMs)
- Debit and credit card payments
- Money remittance (money sent to another party using a payment service company)
Some conditions may apply depending on the payment type. For example, for credit transfers and direct debits, you must use an International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and Bank Identifier Code (BIC) when ordering the payment.
The Regulation does not apply to cheques and it does not apply to currency conversions to and from euro.
How long should money transfers within the EU take?
The Regulation does not deal with this issue. However the Payment Services Directive (2007/64/EC) (pdf) states that for cross-border transfers, the money should be available by the end of the next business day if it does not involve currency exchange. This can be extended by one business day if the transaction is initiated by a paper order. This Directive was transposed into Irish law by the European Communities (Payment Services) Regulations 2009.
SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area)
The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) makes all electronic payments across the euro area as easy as electronic payments within one country. SEPA includes 36 countries – the 27 EU member states (including countries which do not use the euro) plus the UK, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, San Marino, Andorra, Monaco and the Vatican City State.
SEPA allows you to:
- Use your debit card anywhere in the euro area
- Make cross-border bank transfers securely, quickly and in full
- Set up direct debits from anywhere in the euro area
- Need only one bank account for the whole euro area
You cannot be obliged by a payer or payee to maintain a bank account in any particular country to make or receive payments. For example, an Irish person working in France could have their French employer pay their salary directly to their Irish account and use that account to pay direct debits and bills in France.
You have to use the BIC (Bank Identifier Code) and IBAN (International Bank Account Number) to identify your bank and account rather than the NSC (National Sort Code) and Account Number.
The Payment Services Directive (which was transposed into Irish law as the European Communities (Payment Services) Regulations 2009) provides the legal framework for SEPA.
You can find out more about SEPA from the Central Bank of Ireland and the European Central Bank.
Where to apply
If you believe that your bank is not charging you the same amount for national and cross-border payments you should contact them (preferably in writing) and ask for clarification and resolution of your problem.
If you believe that the rules of the Regulation on cross-border payments have not been followed, you can contact the Central Bank in Ireland.
For issues between consumers and traders, contact the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).
Alternatively, if your problem appears to be a bank error rather than the incorrect application of the Regulation rules, you may contact the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman in Ireland.
If the problem occurred in another country, you can get help with redress in other EU countries.