How to Modify the File Format for SEPA Direct Debit Invoices

  • by Kees van Westerop, Senior SAP Consultant, Kwest Consulting
  • April 7, 2014
Learn how to change reference fields in SEPA Direct Debit to make payment collections more efficient and cost-effective.
Learning Objectives

After reading this article, you will know how to:

  • Change the contents of the reference fields used in the SEPA format for Direct Debits.
  • Get an overview of the customizing steps to be done in order to change the format
Key Concept
The SEPA format is the standard way of transferring electronic bank payments in euros within the countries of the EU and four additional countries. The file format is standardized for all countries. The SEPA Direct Debit is the standard SEPA way for collecting money from customers.

When you are collecting payments for customer invoices using SEPA Direct Debit, the generated payment file contains the invoice reference numbers. The standard SEPA file format for Direct Debit can hold only up to four invoice references. When the system collects more than four invoices, the payment program automatically creates a payment advice. A payment advice specifies the invoices paid by a bank transfer. By modifying the file format you can hold more than four invoice references in the SEPA Direct Debit file, thereby reducing the number of payment advices to be sent as well as the costs.

I assume that you have basic knowledge of SEPA and SAP’s automatic payment functionality.

Before I discuss the steps required to make the necessary adjustments, I first want to explain how the standard reference fields look in the payment file. Figure 1 shows an example of the standard SEPA Direct Debit format. The line starting with <Ustrd> shows how a reference to an invoice to be collected is built up. It starts with /INV/ followed by the invoice number (in this example REF123) and the invoice date (in this example 10.2.2013). Because of this lengthy reference the number of invoices is limited to four.


Kees van Westerop

Kees van Westerop has been working as an SAP consultant for more than 25 years. He has an MBA degree in mathematics and a degree in finance. Kees has been concentrating on the financial modules, especially in general ledger accounting, cost center accounting, and consolidation. He also has a great deal of experience with rollouts of kernel systems and integrating finance and logistics.

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