A Guide to Direct Debit Service User Numbers

If you are considering Direct Debit, its essential you have a Direct Debit Service User Number in order to process the collections.

We’ve put together a quick guide to help you get to grips with all the key information you need to know.


What is Bacs Service User Number (SUN)?

The Term Service User Number or SUN, is the unique six digit number identifier allocated to organisations and businesses collecting payment by Direct Debit.

This ID is used in all communications with Bacs and is stored to each individual transaction.

The SUN is used by the bank to find the business name that is displayed on the bank statement of the Direct Debit payer. If the payment is charged back by the customer at a later date, the SUN can be used to identify who is liable for the chargeback.


How do you get a SUN?

Service User Numbers are issued by Bacs to organisations sponsored by its members – the UK’s major banks. Banks have their own application processes but in general, the following requirements apply:

  • Sufficient financial funds
  • Management expertise to enforce the Direct Debit scheme rules
  • Integrity and reliability
  • Strong administration processes

Contractual capacity to indemnify the sponsor bank against any refunds under the Direct Debit Guarantee.


Can you get a SUN through a third party?

Yes. Organisations that do not have their own Service User Number can obtain one through a third party (also known as submitting indirectly). This could be via:

  • Facilities Management – A Direct Debit bureau sets up a SUN for each of its merchants but will own each of these SUNs itself. The name on each SUN will be “Bureau re Client” before payments are collected into the bureau’s client monies account.
  • Payments Institution – A payment institution collects payments on behalf of their client using a single SUN belonging to them. This is then reimbursed and the client is charged a fee. Payment institutions are regulated under the PSD (Payments Services Directive).


Who has ownership of the SUN?

As an example, if you pay your utility bill by a monthly Direct Debit, the SUN belongs to your supplier or a third-party agency, which uses its own SUN on behalf of the supplier in question.

For businesses looking to receive or pay money electronically, the same choice is available. Namely, to either have your own SUN or to have a third-party bureau.


Benefits of SUNS and Direct Debit

The Bacs system is in existence to help businesses and their customers make automated payments easier.

Using Direct Debit collection services can assist your business in a number of key ways:

  • Receive fixed subscription or membership payments : collect weekly or monthly fixed payments for subscriptions and memberships.
  • Invoice customers based on usage : once the Direct Debit has been set up, utility bills, mobile phone bills and council tax payments can be made quickly and easily, removing the worries associated with late payments or accounts in arrears.
  • Offer customers flexible payment terms : Businesses with ongoing customer accounts can use the Direct Debit system to offer a flexible payment system, which allows customers to pay in instalments or clear their account with one simple payment.
  • Receive one-off payments : Direct Debit is a convenient, affordable and safe method of collecting one-off payments. The customer protection provided by the Direct Debit Guarantee makes it the safest payment system in the UK.

Get In Touch

If you are interested in collecting variable or fixed recurring payments or would like to set up a Direct Debit for one-off payments, speak to London & Zurich today. We will talk you through your options and help you understand every aspect of this cost-effective payment option.

Monthly Guides

Delivered to your inbox

    Sign up to London & Zurich to receive updates. You can unsubscribe at any point.