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A Standing Order (or a Standing Instruction) is an instruction a bank account holder gives to their bank to pay a set amount at regular intervals to another account. The instruction is sometimes known as a banker's order.

They are typically used to pay rent, mortgage or other fixed regular payments. Because the amounts paid are fixed, a standing order is not usually suitable for paying variable bills such as credit card, or gas and electricity bills.

Standing orders are available in the banking systems of several countries, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Barbados, the Republic of Ireland, Netherlands, Russia and presumably many others. In the United States, and other countries where cheques are more popular than bank transfers, a similar service is available, in which the bank automatically mails a cheque to the specified payee.

Country differences


A standing order can be set up to run for a set period of time, not indefinitely. They can be cancelled at the account holder's request.

UK and Ireland

A standing order can be set up to run for a set period of time, or indefinitely. They can be cancelled at the account holder's request. Standing orders are standardized by the trade body APACS. In 2008 a number of banks began to introduce Faster Payments as the default method of transfer for Standing Orders in place of the previous BACS system, meaning the payment reaches the receiving account the same day as it is sent rather than incurring a three day delay[1].


The Netherlands

Standing orders (periodieke overboekingen) are not available for a set period of time. They run until cancelled.


A standing order (Dauerauftrag) can run for a set number of payments, a set period of time, or until cancelled.

South Korea

A standing order (납부자자동이체) runs until cancelled. They can be cancelled at the account holder's request. The bank charges fees (average 300KRW) per every transfer.

Difference with direct debit

Standing orders are often confused with direct debits – the fundamental difference is that standing orders are arranged by the payer, while direct debits are arranged by the organisation to be paid.

Both are methods of setting up regular transfers of money from one account to another, but how they are set up and operate is quite different.

  • A standing order can only be set up and modified by the payer, and is for a set amount to be paid at a regular interval. The amount can be paid into any other bank account.
  • A direct debit is set up on the request of an organisation to be paid, however the payer must first give their bank or the payee permission for the direct debit to be set up. The organisation can request variable payments at variable intervals. The customer has no control over these payments, but can cancel the direct debit and request the return of disputed payments. Individuals cannot set up direct debits between each other, only organisations that have a contract with the bank, or have been vetted by the bank. For details and country differences, see direct debit.

See also



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