FAQ: Arrangements for deposit accounts and their annexes

The Arrangements for deposit accounts (ADA) and their annexes (Supplementary publication 3, OJ EPO 2022) have been revised and restructured to reflect the full deployment of Central Fee Payment and the decommissioning of Online Fee Payment on 10 September 2022. The set of frequently asked questions below provides information about the main aspects of the ADA in general and about their latest revision. They are intended as general information only and are without prejudice to the authority of the departments in charge of the related procedures.

System outage

What can I do if my IT system suddenly breaks down when I am in the process of filing my debit order?

You may pay your fee(s) by another payment method offered by the EPO instead, e.g. by bank transfer, and, if applicable, file a request under Article 7(3) RFees (see next question).

We recommend that you set up an in-house safety/emergency procedure to deal with any such breakdown.

What can I do if, on the last day for paying a particular fee, I am unable to file my debit order because of a system issue but cannot ascertain whether the problem is attributable to the EPO?

As a rule, the EPO gives advance notice on its website of any periods of unavailability due to maintenance work. We recommend that you check the website regularly for such downtime notices.

If you cannot find any information about system problems on the EPO website and still have doubts as to the origin of the problem, you can pay the outstanding fee by one of the other payment methods offered by the EPO (e.g. by bank transfer) and file a request under Article 7(3) RFees. In parallel you should file a request under point 11 ADA, pointing out that the accepted electronic means of filing debit orders (see point 7.1.2 ADA) were unavailable, since the EPO’s filing or payment tools may exceptionally be unavailable for reasons other than maintenance (e.g. malfunction).

"Online only" processing of refund instructions

What does the "online only" processing of refund instructions that was put in place on 1 October 2019 mean?

It means that refund instructions can now only be filed in an electronically processable XML format using one of the electronic means of filing listed in point 15.2 ADA. Refund instructions submitted on paper, by fax, via the Web-Form Filing service, as a PDF attachment or using the annotation field in the online forms are invalid and will not be processed. As a courtesy service, the EPO will inform you about invalid instructions and ask you to claim any refunds online at epo.org/fee-payment-service/en/refund.

Is it obligatory to indicate in my refund instructions a deposit account held by a party to the proceedings, e.g. the European representative or the applicant?

No. According to point 15.1 ADA, you can also indicate a deposit account held by a third party. However, the refund instructions themselves must always be filed by a party to the proceedings because third parties are not allowed to act in proceedings before the EPO. Refund instructions filed with the EPO by a third party will therefore be ignored.

I want to enter the European phase. Are the refund instructions I submitted to the EPO as receiving Office also valid in the European phase?

No. The refund instructions that you gave the EPO as RO or as International Authority under the PCT (ISA/IPEA) are only valid during the international phase. Therefore, you must file new refund instructions when you enter the European phase. You can do that with EPO Form 1200E.

Does the EPO check whether refund instructions are still valid when a refund is to be effected?

Yes. Therefore, to ensure that refunds can be processed smoothly, please verify that your refund instructions are clear and up to date, e.g. in the case of a change of representative or a transfer of rights. You can do that with EPO Form 1038E. If the EPO notices that refund instructions are outdated, it will ex officio delete any instructions relating to refunds to a deposit account held by a party that has withdrawn from the proceedings. The EPO will also ex officio delete any instructions relating to refunds to a deposit account held by a third party if they were given by a party that has withdrawn from the proceedings.

What happens if there are no refund instructions on file?

If there are no refund instructions on file or if the instructions on file are ambiguous, the EPO will invite you to claim the refund online via its website (epo.org/fee-payment-service/en/refund) using the refund code indicated in the communication. Since the refund code is confidential, the communication is not public, i.e. not accessible in the EPO Register. When you receive a refund code, go to the above website, register or sign in with your email address and password, and enter the application number, the refund code and your bank account to which the refund should be made.

Insufficient funds - order of processing debit orders

What happens if the funds in my deposit account are not sufficient to cover all the fees indicated in my debit order? Will the EPO debit any fees and, if so, which one(s)?

Yes. The fees will be debited, starting with any appeal fee (fee code 011) and opposition fee (fee code 010) and then in ascending order of their fee codes, for as long as funds are available. Since the additional fee for each page of an application in excess of 35 (fee codes 501 and 520) is part of the filing fee (codes 001 and 020), this "page" fee is exceptionally booked together with the filing fee.

If a debit order cannot be executed in full, no other debit order will be booked until the account is replenished.



An EP application has 38 pages and is filed on 12 October 2022. A debit order is submitted via Online Filing 2.0 for the filing fee (001), the additional fees (501), the search fee (002), the designation fee (005) and the examination fee (006). The account balance is EUR 857.


The fees will be booked in the following order: 001, 501, 002, 005 and 006, until the funds are exhausted. As soon as the account is replenished, any still outstanding fees will be debited with effect from the date of replenishment.


However, if the deposit account is not replenished in time and/or a debit order is filed on the last day for paying the fees due, further processing may be required.


In all cases, it is responsibility of deposit account holders to ensure that their deposit account contains sufficient funds to cover all debit orders submitted.

I was informed that my deposit account did not contain sufficient funds to execute the debit order in full. In order to avoid a loss of rights I have immediately paid the fees via credit card. What happens to my pending debit order to book the fees from my deposit account?

If you have effected the payment via another payment method accepted by the EPO, you do not need to worry about a pending debit order that could not be executed due to insufficient funds. In the case of a debit order still pending more than two months after the date of receipt or after the date indicated as the deferred payment date, the EPO will remove it from the list of pending debit orders in Central Fee Payment, provided that

the fee specified in the debit order was paid by another means of payment; or

the patent application concerned is considered definitively closed.

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