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How can I use secure file transfer protocol SFTP to submit a schedule for payment?

Once all your member records have been validated, you’re ready to submit your contribution schedule for payment using Secure file transfer protocol (SFTP). You can only use this method if you’ve registered to receive return files. Submitting you schedule for payment using SFTP is only recommended where there’s a high volume of records to submit.

You can submit a contribution schedule for payment by sending a file back to us. This file is the successful contribution file with a field in the header changed.

We call this a ‘payment file’. You should only submit this file when you’re ready to pay contributions for all validated members. This is particularly important if you’re paying by Direct Debit as the file will trigger payment.

To submit a schedule for payment using a payment file, just go to the header of the file and change the ‘P’ for pending in the field titled ‘Process Payment flag’ (field 11) to an ‘A’ for authorised. You’ll then need to send us the updated file.

The rest of the data in the payment file must match the successful contributions file. Please note that even if members have opted out since you originally submitted the information, you should leave these records unchanged. We’ll pick up these opt-outs during final processing.

You can only send this file by SFTP - you can’t upload it through the website. The file is processed overnight and the processing time is the same however big the file is. When you submit it, there’s a final check to ensure that all the member details submitted in the contribution schedule are correct and haven’t changed.

If the file doesn’t match the successful contributions file the system will stop the validation process. It won’t check any other records. You’ll receive a ‘payment submission rejection file’ which will include:

  • failure record number – this tells you which record failed
  • error message – this tells you why the file was rejected. You’ll need to correct any errors and reload the corrected file before the payment can be processed. See the Employer payroll guide (PDF) for more details.

If the file is successfully processed you’ll receive a ‘payment submission outcome file’, which will include:

  • amount to be paid
  • payment reference – to use only when making payment by direct credit
  • how many of the member records are invalid.

At this point you should check that the ‘total amount payable’ on the header record is in line with your expectations.

If any member records become invalid between the initial contribution schedule file being sent and the payment file being processed the records will be marked as invalid in the schedule. For instance, this will happen if a member opt outs or stops contributions during this time. That means their contributions won’t be included in the total amount to be paid. You should investigate the invalid member records to ensure you make a payment for everyone you need to. This is especially important where the member contributions now provided are below the level expected.

If members were enrolled after you sent the initial contribution schedule file and aren’t included in this payment, you’ll need to repeat this process for them.

If you’re paying by Direct Debit payment is triggered after we’ve validated your contribution schedule file and you’ve then approved it for payment. Unlike other Direct Debits it’s not set to be paid on a specific date. The amount paid is the total of all the contributions for all valid member records on the schedule.

If you’re paying by debit card you’ll need to log into your account and enter your card details. Pease see How does paying by debit card work? for more information.

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