Principalities and microstates in the SEPA zone | equensWorldline

Principalities and microstates in the SEPA zone

Marcel Woutersen

Senior Communications Consultant

30 October 2013

Principalities and microstates in the SEPA zone


The purpose of SEPA is to achieve the integration of the euro payment market. The SEPA vision was set by EU governments in the Lisbon Agenda (March 2000), which aims to make the EU more dynamic and competitive. The SEPA area currently consists of the 28 EU member states (including the 17 euro countries), four EFTA countries and Monaco. It’s obvious those countries will participate in SEPA, but the various principalities, microstates and overseas areas are a different story. Some countries or independent states have their own central bank or payment structure. The effect of SEPA will be different in those parts. This blog post is meant to give an overview of the various exceptions in the SEPA zone.

At the moment, SEPA consists of 33 countries. All 28 member states of the European Union are included, of which 17 states that are in the Eurozone. There are 11 non-euro countries that will participate in SEPA, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary. The other SEPA countries are Monaco and the EFTA countries.

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

The EFTA is a free trade organisation between four countries that operate in parallel with the European Union. It was established in 1960 as an alternative for European states that were unable or unwilling to join the European Economic Community. Today’s EFTA members are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein will participate in SEPA. Liechtenstein participates in a customs union with Switzerland and has the Swiss franc as its national currency. Switzerland will implement SCT but won’t make use of SDD. The reason why is going to explained in a blog post next week.


Europe has quite a unique structure with countries, sovereign states and principalities. There are a lot of territories outside the main geography as a result of the colonial periods. Within Europe there are some microstates that have their own central bank, like San Marino, or others which use the central bank of a neighboring country like the Vatican City, Andorra and Monaco. The European microstates, the Vatican City, San Marino and Monaco will all be part of SEPA, whereas Andorra will not, despite its adoption of the euro as its currency.

SEPA across the globe

As said, some EU member states also have territories outside their country’s main geography. Those territories can be divided in Outermost Regions (OR) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT). EU legislation applies to the OR’s and they’re part of SEPA, while the opposite is generally true for the OCTs. The following geographies are part of SEPA where EU legislation applies:

Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, Reunion and Saint Martin (France), The Azores and Madeira (Portugal), The Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla (Spain), Gibraltar, Hebrides, Northern Ireland, Orkney and Shetland (UK) and Aland (Finland).

The following geographies are part of SEPA, but EU legislation does not apply, Monaco, Switzerland, Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France). Monaco and Switzerland are included in SEPA on a commercial rather than a legal basis, as banks in these countries have agreed to adhere to the SEPA business rules without being formally bound by EU legislation.

As resolved by the EPC Plenary between March 2006 and June 2009 Mayotte and Saint Pierre and Miquelon are considered to be part of SEPA as well.

Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France consisting of a main island called Grande-Terre (or Maore), a smaller island Petite-Terre (or Pamanzi) and several islets around those two islands. Mayotte is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, between Madagascar and Mozambique. Saint Pierre and Miquelon is a self-governing territorial overseas collectivity of France, situated in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean near Canada.

No to SEPA

SEPA has an effect in various regions around the world. It has a global footprint, but some euro countries in Europe chose not to participate and are not included in the SEPA zone. Those include Andorra, the Faroer Islands, Greenland, Kosovo and Montenegro.

An overview of the various countries in the SEPA zone can be found on the website of the EPC.