Bacs payments are one of the most common ways of sending and receiving payments in the UK. Here, we’ll give you an overview over Bacs and Bacs payments - including what they are, how they work and how long they take.


What is a Bacs payment?

A Bacs payment is a bank-to-bank transfer between banks in the UK. There are two main Bacs payment types, characterised either by:

Direct Debit: When you have given another party permission to take money from your bank account. Examples of Direct Debits could be your monthly council tax payment, internet bill, utility bill, and so on.

Direct Credit: Also referred to as a “bank transfer”, this is when another party deposits money into your account. Examples of a Direct Credit could be refunds, salary payments, pension payments, and so on.

What does Bacs stand for?

Bacs stands for Bankers’ Automated Clearing System. It refers to the network of banks and building societies that participate in the Bacs payments scheme.

Bacs was founded in 1968 but became a subsidiary of Pay.UK (the UK’s leading provider of payments infrastructure) in 2018.

Which banks use Bacs?

According to Bacs’ website, these are the banks and financial institutions that participate in the Bacs payment scheme:

  • ​Allied Irish Bank
  • Atom bank​
  • Bank of England
  • Bank of Scotland PLC
  • Barclays Bank PLC
  • Barclays Bank UK PLC​
  • Citibank NA
  • ClearBank®
  • Clydesdale Bank PLC
  • Coutts & Co
  • HSBC Bank PLC
  • HSBC UK Bank PLC
  • Lloyds Bank PLC
  • Metro Bank
  • Modulr
  • Nationwide Building Society
  • NatWest
  • Northern Bank
  • PayrNet​​
  • Santander
  • Starling Bank
  • The Access Bank UK​​
  • The Co-operative Bank
  • The Royal Bank of Scotland ​
  • TSB
  • Turkish Bank UK
  • Virgin Money

Our sort code checker can also tell you if a bank accepts Bacs payments. Just enter the bank’s sort code to find out.

How long does a Bacs payment take?

Usually, a Bacs payment takes three working days to go through. This applies both to Direct Debits and Direct Credits.

The Bacs payment processing time typically goes like this:

  • A payment is submitted to the Bacs system
  • The payment is processed by the bank
  • Funds are transferred and payments settled via Direct Debit or Direct Credit.

This process is usually completed within three working days.

Illustration of the three day Bacs process

Can Bacs payments go in any time of day?

The time frame in which you can submit payments to the Bacs system runs from 7AM to 10:30PM on weekdays. Bacs Direct Credits often arrive very early on the third day.

How to make a Bacs payment

Bacs payments are a safe and reliable way of transferring money.

To make a Bacs payment you’ll typically need to know the other party’s name, bank, account number and sort code. You’ll also need the same details for the account you’re withdrawing from.

Starling customers can receive Bacs payments, but not initiate them.

How much does a Bacs transfer cost?

Bacs payments are considered very cost-efficient. The cost of sending a Bacs payment depends on the amount and the bank, but it usually only amounts to pennies. You won’t be charged for receiving a Bacs payment.

Is Bacs the same as a bank transfer?

Bacs is a form of bank transfer and the two terms are often used interchangeably. There are also other types of bank transfers to be aware of (each has its own characteristics), such as CHAPS and Faster Payments.

Other resources:

Bank accounts explained: Sort code and account number

What are IBAN, SWIFT and BIC?

Interest rates: What are APR, EAR and AER?

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