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Let me start with a quote from the SEPA website:

Only one bank account needed for the whole euro area: SEPA will make things much easier if you are working or studying abroad in another euro area country, especially on a temporary basis. At present you have to go through a range of formalities to open a new bank account in the new country. However, with SEPA you can simply carry on using your existing euro account in your home country.

I recently moved to Belgium from the Netherlands. The belgian bank demands I use their account as my primary salary account. Seems fair as they loaned me a lot of money for a house.

Now already two Dutch companies (Brand New Day & T-mobile) are telling me they do not support non-Dutch SEPA accounts period.

My question: Can I force companies to accept a SEPA bank account? Are there any european regulations I can slap on their faces?

  • 1
    Did you check with your bank ? They might be possessing the relevant regulation informations as they deal with it on a daily basis. – DumbCoder Dec 21 '16 at 13:54
  • Good idea, I will. – Niels van Reijmersdal Dec 21 '16 at 14:04
  • You've encountered two companies causing friction already, do you really want to fight this battle with each individual company? – quid Dec 22 '16 at 18:13
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This is not allowed, and there is a name for it: IBAN discrimination. Searching for that term will give you some pointers what to do about it.

The EU regulation that prohibits this is 260/2012, article 9, paragraph 2:

A payee accepting a credit transfer or using a direct debit to collect funds from a payer holding a payment account located within the Union shall not specify the Member State in which that payment account is to be located, provided that the payment account is reachable in accordance with Article 3.

You can report this at the relevant national authorities. In the Netherlands, this is De Nederlandsche Bank, which has a special e-mail address for this: meldpuntIBANdiscriminatie@dnb.nl

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A couple of thoughts and experiences (Germany/Italy):

  • First of all, I recommend talking to the Belgian bank (and possibly to a Dutch bank of your choice). I have similar conditions for my German bank accounts. But even though they talk about it as salary account ("Gehaltskonto") all they really ask for is a monthly inflow of more than xxxx € - which can be satisfied with an automatic direct transfer (I have some money automatically circulating for this reason which "earns" about 4% p.a. by saving fees).
    In that case it may be a feasible way to have a Belgian and a Dutch bank account and set up some money circulation.

  • Experiences working in Italy (some years ago, SEPA payments were kind of new and the debits weren't implemented then):

    • I had no trouble paying e.g. my landlord and utility bills by wire transfer using my German account.
    • My employer said they were not allowed to do a direct deposit into a foreign account. I never found out whether any law prevented them to do so or whether they were lazy or whether the person at that office wasn't authorized to do payments to foreign countries.
  • My guess with your service providers is that they are allowed to offer you contracts that are bound to rather arbitrary payment conditions. After all, you probably can also get a prepaid phone or a contract with a bill that you can then pay by wire transfer - however, AFAIK they are allowed to offer discounts/ask fees for different payment methods. Just like there is no law that forces the store around your corner to accept credit cards or even large EUR denominations as long as they tell you so beforehand.

AFAIK, there is EU regulation saying your bank isn't allowed to charge you more for wire transger to foreign country within the SEPA zone than a national wire transfer.

  • (anecdata: I've recently heard the same complaint about Dutch T-Mobile from a [German] friend who was working for a while in the Netherlands - AFAIK he gave in and openend a Dutch bank account)
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Can I force companies to accept a SEPA bank account? Are there any European regulations I can slap on their faces?

I am not sure if you can force. Any change in regulations to this effect much come from the Company law Board [or equivalent in each countries.]

Right now as much as I understand this is more voluntary for the companies to adopt it and the rationale is its easier for companies and hence beneficial.

SEPA Direct Debit is more recent. The key aspect in this is "Mandate Management". Before SEPA every country had slightly different norms. Some were fundamentally different, for example in Belgium Mandate was to be captured and stored by your Bank [payee Bank/Debtor Bank]. In SEPA it is the responsibility of T-Mobile [Creditor].

Although SEPA has guidelines, they are more elementary. For example "Mandate Signature" needs to be on paper. Can an electronic copy be created? Belgium has some guidelines. Other countries have different. This falls in preview of each country defining what a "Signature" is, what is valid electronic signature etc.

Further SEPA DD rules allow you to reverse a debit with 8 weeks [you can inform your Bank in Netherlands]. There is also a period of 13 months where you can say this debit was unauthorized. Now this is where is risk comes in as it is borne by the Creditor [T-Mobile].

Depending on convoluted rules in different countries, you may easily prove you didn't sign the mandate because as per Netherlands law, Signature / authorization means xyz.

This is more likely the reason the Service providers are not willing to accept account in other Euro Zone.

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