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Combating late payment in business dealings

Combating late payment in business dealings


Directive 2011/7/EU – combating late payment in commercial transactions



  • It aims to protect businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), from late payments* in commercial transactions* by ensuring invoices are paid on time.
  • It sets out timetables within which bills must be settled and provides for financial penalties if these are not respected.


  • Businesses must pay invoices within a maximum of 60 days, unless otherwise expressly agreed in the contract and provided that the terms are not grossly unfair to the creditor.
  • Public authorities must pay for the goods and services they buy within 30 days. In exceptional circumstances, the deadline may be extended to 60 days, for example in the healthcare sector or for specific industrial or commercial activities.
  • Creditors who have fulfilled their legal and contractual obligations and who have not been paid within the time limits specified, are entitled to interest and compensation on the late payment.
  • The interest to be paid shall be at least 8 percentage points above the reference rate applied by the European Central Bank. The European Commission makes the applicable rates available online. In practice, they come to 8-10 % in most EU countries.
  • Creditors are entitled to a minimum fixed sum of €40 from debtors. In addition, they are entitled to compensation for any other reasonable costs incurred to recover the debt, such as legal expenses or employing a debt collecting agency.
  • Creditors are entitled to interest from the day following payment due date.
  • Where a contract does not specify the date for payment, a creditor is entitled to interest 30 days after the invoice is received, or, if the date the invoice arrived is unclear, the same period after the goods or services have been provided.
  • National authorities must take measures to make the public aware of the remedies which exist for late payment.
  • By 16 March 2016, the Commission will present a report on the legislation's implementation.

Between October 2012 and November 2014, the Commission organised a late payment information campaign across the EU to make stakeholders aware of their rights and obligations.


It entered into force on 15 March 2011. EU countries had to incorporate it into their national law by 16 March 2013.


For more information, see Late Payment Directive on the European Commission’s website.


* Late payment: payment not made within the statutory or contractual period after the goods or services have been supplied.

* Commercial transactions: transactions between businesses or between them and public authorities involving payment for goods and services.


Directive 2011/7/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 on combating late payment in commercial transactions (OJ L 48, 23.2.2011, pp. 1–10)

last update 11.02.2016