SEPA & International payments explained

When you want to send a payment to your friend in another bank there are two options:

1.       An International payment

2.       A SEPA Payment


An International payment is sent through the SWIFT network and a SEPA payment is sent through the SEPA Scheme.

What is SWIFT?

SWIFT stands for the Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, it is a system that allows all banks that are signed up to the system to speak with each other. This is how banks send and receive payments safe and securely.

Money doesn’t physically move from one bank to another. A SWIFT message tells the receiving bank to put the money you sent into their customer’s account.

This is done by both banks having an account with each other. Once two banks have an agreement, they can send and receive payments between  each other.

For example:

Anna wants to send her niece Rebecca, in America, a birthday present of $50. Rebecca’s account is with Bank of America. AIB has an agreement with Bank of America so we can send the message directly to Bank of America. We take the money from Anna’s account then send the message to Bank of America who will take the money from our account with them and put the money into Rebecca’s account.

If we do not have an agreement with a particular bank, the message has to go to a bank that we do have an agreement with.. These banks are called “intermediary banks.

For example:

Tim is sending money to his son Brian in Australia to help buy a car. Brian’s account is with a small credit union in Sydney called Cape Breton. We do not have an agreement with this credit union so we must find a bank that does.

We have an agreement with Commonwealth Bank of Australia and it has a relationship with Brian’s credit union branch. So we send a swift message to Commonwealth Bank of Australia and place money in their account. Commonwealth Bank then send a swift message to Cape Breton Credit Union who can then pass the money into Brian’s account.

Due to how manual the process is, each of these banks may charge for passing along the payment.

The charge is known as “intermediary charges” and can differ from bank to bank and range from anywhere between €0- €70 or more depending on each bank.

There is no limit to the number of intermediary banks which can be involved in getting the money to Brian’s credit union. Each of these banks may also charge for passing on the money.


Let’s not talk about ‘relationships’ bewtween banks, it’s just too weird. Do they go to the movies together? That’s what people think when you say ‘relationships. They are for humans.

Intermediary charge explained


We offer two options of how to pay for the intermediary charges.

’Sender’: Choose the ‘Sender’ option when you need the full amount of the payment to reach the beneficiary’s account and you are prepared to accept any charges by the intermediary bank and the receiver’s bank.  You can only use the ‘Sender’ charging option can when you use a Paylink Standard or Urgent payment on IBB or a paper form. You can’t use it when paying to EEA Countries or through AIB Internet Banking and AIB Kiosk Banking.


Let’s go back to Anna wanting to send Rebecca $50. Anna wants Rebecca to get all $50, so she picks the ‘sender’ option. This means Anna has paid our charge for this payment along with Bank of America’s charge at a later date. Rebecca has received the full $50.

 ‘Shared’ – The ‘Shared’ charging option is used when our fees are paid by the Sender and all other charges (intermediary and/or Beneficiary bank charges) are paid by the person receiving the money.


Using the same example as above, Anna is sending Rebecca $50, but this time Anna picks the Shared option. Anna pays our charge for this payments and her niece Rebecca pays Bank of America’s charge meaning she may have received less than $50. ie. $40.

Intermediary bank charges can range between €0 - €70


SEPA stands for Single Euro Payments Area. The SEPA payment scheme was created to simplify international euro transfers between EU member states.

The SEPA scheme consists of the 28 EU Member States plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco and San Marino.

To make a SEPA payment you need:

  1. The IBAN of the person you want to pay
  2. The bank to which you are sending the payment to be a member of the SEPA scheme
  3. The payment to be in euro

Let’s say Anna wants to send €50 to her other niece, Sarah in France. Sarah’s bank in France is a member of the SEPA scheme and Anna has her IBAN. We will take €50 from Anna’s account and put it in a central account held with the SEPA scheme. Sarah’s bank will then take the money from this central account and put it in Sarah’s account.

If you do a SEPA payment before 14:00 with us the payment will get there the same day.

If you make this payment after 14:00 the payment will get there the next business day.

We charge 20 cent for a SEPA payments.

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    How do I make a SEPA Payment?

    You can make a SEPA payment on internet, mobile, tablet and phone banking with these steps:

    1.  Log into internet, mobile or tablet banking

    2.  Select ‘Pay &Transfer’

    3.  Depending on where you’re paying select either ‘To Another Irish Account’ or ‘International Payment’

    4a.  If you selected ‘To Another Irish Account’ then select which account you want to take the payment from and press [MG1] next

    4b. Select the person you want to pay, or enter in the details if they are not already saved and press next

    4c. Confirm the payment

    5. If you selected ‘international Payment’ you must select euro as your currency. The country you are sending the money to must be one of the 32 in the SEPA scheme. You must also select the payment type as ‘standard’ for the payment to go as a SEPA Payment. Press next

    6. Select the account you wish to take the money from

    7. Enter the details of the person you are paying and the amount

    8. Type any references you want the sender to receive

    9. Confirm the payment

    SEPA payments can also be made in any of our local branches by completing a Paylink Euro form and selecting the ‘standard’ option.

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    How do I make an International Payment?

    You can make an international payment on internet banking with these steps:

    1. Log into internet, mobile or tablet banking
    2. Select ‘Pay &Transfer’
    3. Select ‘International Payment’
    4. Select your currency, the country of the person you are paying and whether you want the payment to go as standard or urgent.
    5. Select the account you want to take the mone from
    6. Enter the details of the person you are paying, the amount and the purpose of payment
    7. Enter the BIC or bank address of the person you are paying
    8. Confirm the payment

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    When should I make a SEPA payment or an International Payment?

    Any euro payment going to the 32 member countries should go as a SEPA payment.

    If you need your payment to get there the same day and it is before 14:00 make sure you select the ‘standard’ option on internet banking, or on our Paylink euro form.

    If you need your payment to get there the same day and it is between 14:00 and 15:00 then we advise you to select the ‘urgent’ option.

    If the bank you are trying to pay is not a member of the SEPA scheme you will need to make an international payment.

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    What is an International Bank Account Number (IBAN)?

    The International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is a standardised European bank account number.  The IBAN is now the sole payment account identifier for electronic national, international and cross-border credit transfers and direct debits in Euro within the EU.


    To see a full list of our charges, please click here.

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