SEPA Countries & Account Opening

SEPA countries belong to one of the most powerful international banking networks globally, the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). As you’ll see, the list of SEPA countries includes some of the most popular countries for bank account opening from across Europe. And, as we’ll discuss below, there are a few secret offshore jurisdictions that also have access to SEPA.

For now, just know that having an account in one of the 36 SEPA countries means being able to send and receive transfers fast and affordably through more than 5,900 banks. With this in mind, here’s an up-to-date list of all SEPA countries today:

SEPA Countries:

Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the Vatican City State.

* Last updated by the European Central Bank in March 2019

Unfortunately, knowing which SEPA countries exist isn’t enough to successfully open a bank account. This is especially true if you’re a non-resident, a non-EU citizen, or you’re looking to open an account while outside of your home country.

In this article, we’ll share everything you need in order to choose which SEPA countries are best for you. Plus, we’ll also help you get started with account opening so you can reap all the benefits of SEPA transfers.

Note: If this is your first time visiting GlobalBanks, don’t forget to download your FREE copy of the Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide. It will help you get started opening accounts in all of the SEPA countries listed above.

To quickly navigate through the rest of this article, please use the following table of contents to jump ahead to whichever section is most relevant to you. Of course, if you’re just starting your search for a bank account in one of the 36 countries, be sure to read the entire article before applying for accounts.

SEPA Countries & Account Opening

What is a SEPA Bank Transfer?

When sending transfers between banks located in SEPA countries, the sender is automatically engaging in a SEPA transfer. In other words, any transfers that are sent between SEPA countries automatically benefit from faster transfer time and dramatically lower costs.

Now, you might be wondering: how long does it actually take for a SEPA bank transfer to arrive? Well, the answer is, it depends.

Transfers that are sent electronically between SEPA countries should take no longer than 24-hours. However, customers also have the option to use paper transfers. If you choose to forgo electronic transfers and file a paper transfer instead, you should expect the transfer to take at least 48 hours.

Obviously, given that SEPA is short for Single Euro Payments Area, you should only consider banking in SEPA countries if you have a genuine need for euro transactions. Of course, there are endless reasons why one might have such a need. But, if that’s not you, there may be better banking options available elsewhere.

Benefits of Banking in SEPA Countries

SEPA countries benefits
We’ve already touched on the economic benefits of banking in these countries, such as fast and affordable transfers. But there are other benefits to tap into as well.

In fact, regardless if you’re an individual, a business owner, or have a wealth planning structure like a trust or foundation, a bank account in one of the many countries can offer additional advantages.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the top benefits that non-residents and foreigners can capture when opening a bank account in one of the SEPA countries.

Benefits of Banking in SEPA countries:

  • Access to the EU banking system as an individual
  • Access to the EU banking system for foreign and non-resident entities
  • Low-cost and fast SEPA transfers
  • English language EU banking and customer support in some countries
  • Full range of banking services including retail, commercial, and private banking
  • Online and remote account opening is still possible in some countries
  • SEPA countries are not considered offshore jurisdictions or tax havens
  • Access to a single currency without currency conversion fees

Can You Open a SEPA Bank Account Online?

SEPA Countries Online
In certain SEPA countries, online and remote account opening is still possible. This is even true for non-residents who are not EU or European citizens.

In fact, GlobalBanks Insiders are able to open SEPA bank accounts with as little as 300 euro from the comfort of their home, from pretty much any country in the world. If you’re already a GlobalBanks Insider and you’re interested in this, just send us a request from your Insider Dashboard and we’d be happy to help you start opening accounts.

If you’re not already a GlobalBanks Insider, you can use the information shared below to decide which country is best for you. Additionally, by accessing our detailed banking articles (linked below), you can also identify which countries might meet your account opening requirements.

Of course, given that most of the SEPA countries are members of the European Union, there are some similarities when it comes to account opening. So, before deciding which countries are best for you, let’s look at some of the account opening trends you should be aware of.

How to Open Bank Accounts in SEPA Countries

SEPA Countries How to Open Accounts
The exact steps to open a bank account in one of the SEPA countries will depend on the country chosen. But generally speaking, the following considerations are relatively consistent across all countries and should be examined more closely on a country by country (and bank to bank) basis before deciding where to open.

Required EU Connection

If you’re a non-EEA citizen, account opening in SEPA countries will require more paperwork. Likewise, most banks want to understand why you want to open a bank account in one of the SEPA countries.

Bank, Branch, Banker Selection

There are thousands of banks, tens of thousands of branches, and even more bankers working within SEPA countries. Knowing which bank, branch, and banker to choose for account opening is no small task. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of the available options will accept non-resident or foreign clients. So knowing where to go, how to apply, and who to contact is critical to opening an account in SEPA countries.

Acceptable Proof of Address

When opening an account in many SEPA countries, many people run into difficulties when providing proof of address. Banks across the EU (and other SEPA countries) have specific address requirements. These requirements vary from country to country and from bank to bank. Additionally, these requirements can vary when opening non-resident accounts vs resident accounts.

Authentication Requirements

Before opening accounts in SEPA countries, you need to know the authentication requirements for the country where you plan to open. Depending on where your supporting documents are from and what language they’re in, this can be very expensive. And, if you’re overseas or in a non-EU country, it can be difficult to get your documents authenticated in the countries where you plan to open accounts. We discuss how to overcome issues like this in detail in GlobalBanks Insider.

Specific Requirements in SEPA Countries

Each country has its own specific requirements for account opening. Likewise, opening requirements vary from bank to bank, and even branch to branch. To get information about a specific country, see the articles shared in the  “Which SEPA Countries Should You Bank In?” section below.

Secret SEPA Countries & Territories

Secret SEPA Countries
It’s common knowledge that there are 36 SEPA countries. But, did you know that there are 17 lesser-known SEPA countries?

This is interesting for a few reasons…

First, if you have an account in one of these “secret” countries, you don’t need to open another account to access SEPA benefits. And second, if for some reason it’s easier for you to open in one of these “secret” countries, the process of opening a bank account in SEPA countries might be far easier than you thought.

Here’s a list of the secret SEPA countries, overseas territories, and autonomous states, that often get overlooked:

Azores, Canary Islands, Ceuta, French Guiana, Gibraltar, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Martinique, Madeira, Mayotte, Melilla, Réunion, Saint Barts, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

These jurisdictions span the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, North Africa, and even the East Coast of Canada — offering a unique way to access SEPA without ever setting foot in Europe.

Which SEPA Countries Should You Bank In?

SEPA Countries Bank Account
To determine which SEPA countries are best for you, the first step is clarifying why you want to open accounts. This will not only determine where to apply but also which account opening strategies you should use. It will also help you determine how much you’ll need to deposit, and more.

With this in mind, let’s look at the three categories of SEPA countries. Depending on which category you or your business falls into, this will provide more clarity on which countries are best suited to your banking objectives.

Not surprisingly, most SEPA countries fall into the second category, which includes daily banking services. Only a few outliers make up the first and third categories, which represent private banking and transactional banking respectively.

Category 1: SEPA Countries Catering to Private Banking

Andorra, Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, and Switzerland.

Category 2: SEPA Countries Catering to Transactional Banking

Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the Vatican City State.

Category 3: SEPA Countries Catering to Transit or Pass-Through Banking

Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, and Romania.

In each of the above categories, the account opening requirements, minimum deposits, and available services will vary based on the country and the banks chosen. So, while this list doesn’t take into consideration everyone’s individual banking requirements and priorities, it will help you get started in the right direction.

To receive further account opening details, you can use the following articles discussing individual SEPA countries. Each article explains the benefits, challenges, and opportunities for banking in each country. You will also receive, where possible, information on online and remote account opening.

Of course, when you join GlobalBanks IQ you will get specific suggestions based on your specific banking goals and requirements. This includes specific SEPA countries (or non-SEPA countries), banks, branches, and even bankers.

SEPA Countries Article List

If you’re interested in opening a bank account in one of the following SEPA countries, just click on the name of the country below to see more detailed information about banking and account opening.

Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Hungary, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland.

*This list of SEPA countries will continue to be updated as new articles are added to GlobalBanks.

Ready to Open Bank Accounts in SEPA Countries?

Whether you’re ready to open bank accounts in SEPA countries today or you’re just starting to explore your options, we can help.

If you’re ready to take action and start opening international accounts now, you can access GlobalBanks IQ, our dedicated international banking intelligence platform.

GlobalBanks IQ gives you everything you need to start finding and opening accounts for you or your business today.

When you join GlobalBanks IQ, you immediately unlock the GlobalBanks Database of international banks — home to 250+ banks in 50+ countries. 

And, you get access to our library of premium (members-only) reports. These include proven account opening strategies, country-specific banking options, and lists of banks for specific client types.

Plus, you unlock our account opening checklists, dedicated account opening alerts, and much more. 

To get started, click here to see if GlobalBanks IQ is the right choice for you to start accessing the benefits of international banking today.

You can also view all of the account opening solutions offered by GlobalBanks on our products page.

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