Bacs, Direct Debit, Scheme Rules, Service User Guide
04, MAR 2018

The new Service User Guide and new Rules (SUGR) for the Direct Debit Scheme were issued by BACS in January 2018.

BACS – Bankers Automated Clearing Services, has been in existence since 1968 when it was called the Inter Bank Computer Bureau. The name change to Bankers Automated Clearing Services happened in 1971, with the name shortened to Bacs Limited in 1986. The organization we now refer to as Bacs is Bacs Payment Services Ltd, a ‘not for profit’ body made up of members of the banking industry and it sets the rules for the Direct Debit and Direct Credit schemes in the UK.

As ever, if you’re a direct debit scheme Service User, it’s vital that you get to grips with the changes and implement them within your organisation, applying all new Rules and Guidance to your operational procedures to stay compliant. This latest version of the Rules is version 5.1. and you can find it in the secure area of the Bacs website.

So what are the main changes to the Bacs scheme rules and Service User Guide?

It can be quite daunting to think that you may have to change your practices – and the idea of trawling through the Rules may be something you’re dreading but it’s not so complicated. For a start, the Service User Guide includes an overview of the latest changes. These include:

  • Changes for Facilities Management (FM) Service Users (service users that take responsibility for the collection or administration of Direct Debits on behalf of another organization, which might not be a service user in its own right). The latest rules make it easier to switch FM provider, thanks to a new accreditation scheme.
  • An update on electronic signatures. This includes types of electronic signature, who can use them (individuals can, but not corporate bodies)
  • Masking reference details for security. This will allow Service Users to mask part of an account number (or credit card reference number) leaving sufficient characters to enable the payer to recognise it e.g. by masking the first four digits.
  • Rules on the provision of advance notice via a secure website. when providing notification via a secure website it must be in a durable medium e.g. an invoice, which allows the payer to store and access the information and reproduce it unchanged. The payer must be advised via their usual notification method e.g. email / text, and in accordance with their advance notice period, that the details are available to view.
  • An update to the process for Service Users challenging a refund made under the Direct Debit Guarantee. This is a complex process. If a customer requests a refund under the Direct Debit guarantee there is a certain process that must be followed and if the Service User wishes to challenge this there are various options and approaches.  For detailed advice about this please contact us

There’s also a new section of the guide looking at making changes to existing DDI’s and the Bulk Change Process (BCP). The BCP is only available to AUDDIS service users and Service Users must apply to the sponsoring bank to obtain approval prior to undertaking it.  Please contact us for specific support on how and when the BCP can be used.

What do you have to do to comply with the Bacs rules and Service User Guide?

As a Service User, it’s vital that you are up to date with the rules and adapt your practices to make sure you are compliant. If this is something you are struggling with, we offer a consultancy service that will help you get on top of the changes practically and efficiently.


More generally, it’s worth making sure your staff are always up to date with the rules and best practice. As a Bacs Accredited Training Provider, we are able to assist any Service Users who need to keep their staff up to date with changes to the Service User Guide. We hold Direct Debit training courses on a regular basis, at select locations around the country, providing a comprehensive overview of the direct debit scheme. See our training course diary and locations if you’re interested in attending one of our regional training days.

We also provide bespoke training for individual organisations, and are happy to come to your offices, saving you travel time and costs. Please contact our bespoke training team for more details.