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How Do I Get a Bacs Service User Number?

In order for your company to operate a Bacs/Direct Debit service in-house, or to take advantage of a Bacs Approved Bureau service, you will need to obtain your own Service User Number (SUN) from your sponsoring bank. You may be asking yourself, 'How do I get a Bacs service user number?' applying for an SUN from the bank can be a complicated process and very time-consuming. Don’t let this put you off though! 


What is a Service User Number and what does it allow me to do?

A Service User Number is a unique 6 digit number identifier for organisations collecting or sending payments by Direct Debit. All communications with Bacs, the clearing service for Direct Debit, use this ID, and it is stored to create a record of the transaction. The SUN on the payment is used to identify the originator who is liable for the chargeback. Without an SUN your business is unable to send and receive Direct Debits directly into your account.

Having your own SUN comes with many benefits. These include your business having better cash flow and being trusted by customers for being a professional and reliable company. Companies are given many choices as to how they want to manage their Direct Debits, they can either manage the whole process themselves through Bacs approved software or outsource everything to a Bureau.


How Do I Get a Bacs Service User Number?

Before you spend valuable time applying for an SUN it might be beneficial for you to check if your business is eligible to receive an SUN.

  1. Ensure that your company has a UK bank account with one of the sponsoring banks
  2. Sticking to the scheme rules is crucial! You must be able to demonstrate to the bank that you have the ability to enforce the Direct Debit scheme rules. Alongside this you will need to minimise submission errors and uphold the reputation of the scheme.
  3. Under the Direct Debit Guarantee you will need to have sufficient monetary reserves in order to make any refunds to customer. This protects your customers against payments made fraudulently or in error.
  4. In relation to the previous statement, you must be able to indemnify your sponsor bank against any payments charged back under the Direct Debit Guarantee.

Our best advice would be to contact your relationship manager at your bank. It is them who hold the real answer as to whether you will be eligible to obtain an SUN.

Don’t worry, though, as here at Interbacs, we are able to offer services to you even if you have not been presented with a SUN. Click to find out more about our Facilities Management Service.


How Do I Apply For a SUN?

In order to obtain an SUN, you will need to speak to a sponsoring bank and apply. Every bank has a different application process, but usually, once the application is submitted, you should hear back from them anytime between 2-10 weeks.

If your application is successful, you can access a diverse range of Bacs and Direct Debit/Credit solutions.


Why Not Find Out Which One is Best Suited to Your Needs?

As the process can be lengthy and complicated we offer advice to anyone who has any concerns about how the SUN could benefit them. If you have any questions or if you are still unsure about obtaining a SUN then please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our Bacs trained staff here at our Manchester office.

Or, if you're looking for a way to streamline your direct debit payments from a committed organisation that prioritises secure service, check out our Bacs-approved software Interpay today.