A Swift Code or BIC (Bank Identifier Code) is the international equivalent of a sort code. It is part of an international payment instruction which routes a payment through the international system, to the correct country and local bank.
SEPA payments are a fast and cheap method to send Euros, and were introduced by the EU to reduce the cost of cross-border transactions. Payments usually arrives within one or two working days, using a SEPA transfer from one country to another. SEPA payments are a fast and cheap method to send Euros, and were introducted by the EU to reduce the cost of cross-border transactions. Payments usually arrive within 1-2 working days.
IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number, and is the European standard for international payments. Replacing the need to include account numbers and branch codes when instructing international money transfers, an IBAN contains all this information, making payment instructions across Europe simpler and more consistent.
The cheapest way to send money abroad will depend on how much you are sending, where to, and in which currency. International payment charges can be broken down into the following components: UK transfer charges, Exchange rate, and Overseas bank charges.
Achieving a competitive exchange rate is important if you are sending or receiving international payments. All too often, banks provide what they call commercial exchange rates for larger transfers (the same applies for individuals and businesses), but this commercial rate will not compare favourably to the rates offered by independent currency brokers.
Currency companies in the UK are primarily regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), but there are currently 2 levels of regulation under the Payment Services Directive 2009. The 2 levels are called "Authorised Payments Institution" (API) and "Smaller Payments Institution" (SPI). The SPI level is for companies which trade up to €3m per month, above which point they must become APIs.