SEPA and SWIFT Transfers: Key Differences

Written by: smm

on: 10/04/2023

Although international payments are widespread and popular, not everyone now knows about SEPA and SWIFT.

So, we’re happy to cover the details of these systems in this article. Today, these are the two most common methods in the world.

Key differences:

For sure, SEPA and SWIFT are very similar. Both systems are used to transfer funds internationally, from one bank account to another.

The key differences show up when it comes to coverage and speed.

For instance, SWIFT transfers take a long time and require a lot of detailed and accurate information about the beneficiary and the beneficiary bank. SEPA transfers require only the beneficiary’s bank account number (IBAN).

Advantages and disadvantages of SEPA transfers:

SEPA transfers are transactions exclusively within the eurozone. Parties are allowed to make payments in euros only.


— Typically, low or no fees.

— Transfers take from one second to one day.

— Convenient transfer process.

— Minimum information required.

— Secure transactions.

— Regular transfers, payments for services and bills, and bank card payments are available.

— Both EU residents and non-residents, who have an account in European banks, can use it.


— Available only in 36 countries.

— It works with euros only.

— The transfer limit is usually EUR 100,000.

Advantages and disadvantages of SWIFT transfers:

SWIFT transfers are transactions at the international level. It covers over two hundred countries. Parties are allowed to make payments in any currency.


— It’s available all over the world.

— It works with any currency.

— If offers many features.

— No transfer limits for individuals and legal entities.

— Regular transfers, payments for services and bills, and bank card payments are available.


— High fees and currency exchange costs.

— Transfers take up to 5–7 business days.

— It requires detailed information about the beneficiary and the bank.

How to make a SEPA transfer:

If you live in the SEPA zone, you’ll most likely be able to transfer funds from any of your bank accounts.

If you’re not entirely sure about that, you can check this information with your bank or refer to the register of participants in SEPA payments.

Making a transfer requires you to follow a few steps:

1. Log in to your bank account.

2. Specify the beneficiary’s details and the amount you want to transfer.

3. Add the beneficiary’s IBAN (bank account number).

4. Confirm the above information and send the transfer.

5. Funds must be credited within one day.

How to make a SWIFT transfer:

Depending on the situation, a SWIFT transfer may be available in your online banking service, mobile applications, or only at bank counters.

Making a transfer requires you to follow a few steps:

1. Provide the beneficiary’s account details: a SWIFT code for the beneficiary bank, its full name in English, IBAN, the name of its branch that receives the funds, and details of intermediary banks, if any.

2. Fill out a transfer application online or at a bank.

3. Deposit funds to the debit account, check the data, pay fees, and confirm the transaction.

Summing it all up:

SEPA is a simpler, faster, and cheaper version of SWIFT to make international payments within the EU and beyond. It all depends on what you need.

SharPay customers—both individuals and entrepreneurs—can make SEPA transfers, too.

The service processes all transfers several times a day according to the rules. However, it typically takes no more than one business day. 

Sign up and become a part of SharPay today: