How to Take Direct Debit Payments

Taking direct debit payments automates the payment process for payees.
Taking direct debit payments automates the payment process for payees. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Direct debit payments allow your business to take a flexible, recurring monthly payment for the services you provide. Direct debits are a common method of paying for services monthly, allowing the payee to automate bill paying and helping businesses improve collection rates by automating the billing process. With the help of a direct debit processing service, small businesses can take direct debit payments without a significant administrative burden.

Sign up with a direct debit processing service. Direct debit processing services tend to be BACS bureaus, or provide other financial services. A third-party direct debit processing service is an essential part of taking direct debit payments.

Contact your bank and ask about your Service User Number (SUN). The SUN is essential in allowing a direct debit system to be set up to your bank account, as it necessary before money can be debited from payee accounts.

Confirm that your account is set up with Automated Direct Debit Instruction Service, an account privilege determined by the bank. If AUDDIS is not already live on your bank account, it will take several days to activate.

Ask your direct debit processing service for their "bureau number." Phone your bank and ask for your SUN to be linked to the bureau number of your processing service.

Await confirmation of payment processing setup. This can take a period of up to 8 weeks, after which you can accept payment instructions from your customers.

Tips & Warnings

  • The process of applying for a direct debit processing account can take a number of weeks, so make sure you start the process as soon as possible to prevent delaying the time before you can set up payment instructions.
  • Direct debit processing requires prior notification of any amounts to be billed to the payee. This is part of the direct debit guarantee, so is essential in complying with the terms of the payment instruction and validating the direct debit transaction.

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