About Visa in Europe

Visa Europe is a wholly owned subsidiary of Visa Inc. (NYSE:V). Visa Inc. is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable electronic payments. We operate one of the world's most advanced processing networks — VisaNet — that is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and assured payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa's innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, pay ahead of time with prepaid or pay later with credit products.

Historically, partnerships with Visa in Europe have taken the form of memberships. Learn more about these below.

Types of Membership

The following are the main types of Membership:

  • Principal Member
  • Associate Member
  • Participant Member
  • Extension of Membership through a Branch Licence

Other types

If an applicant only intends to issue and acquire V PAY, there is a separate category of membership solely for this activity. Similarly, if a member only wishes to make cash disbursements, there is a specific category of membership for this activity.

Further information on these additional types of membership can be obtained by contacting Visa Europe.

Membership Application Process

Once an applicant has contacted Visa Europe expressing interest in membership, they will be assigned a Visa Europe representative who will provide information about the application process, fees and technical requirements. They will also provide guidance throughout the entire membership application process. Below is an outline of the steps involved in applying for membership with Visa Europe:

Step 1: Eligibility

An applicant must establish that it is eligible for membership by providing Visa Europe with a copy of its licence to operate granted by the relevant regulatory authority (or a link to a relevant website if available), showing that it is either:

  • Organised under commercial banking laws and authorised to accept demand deposits; or
  • A Payment Service Provider from an EU/EEA Member State or from a country where the Payment Services Directive has been implemented by relevant national legislation.

The licence must state which business activities related to card payments the applicant is authorised to conduct.

Step 2: Application pack

An applicant is required to complete the relevant application forms and provide copies of its last three years audited financial accounts, plus the latest un-audited financial accounts. In the case of a start-up entity, management approved three year financial projections are required. There are different application packs for the different types of membership. These can be obtained by contacting Visa Europe. Click the following links for an example of the standard Membership Application Form and Business Plan document.

Step 3: Risk review

Visa Europe will conduct a risk review of applications for Principal and Associate membership. The review involves an assessment of the applicant’s financial capacity, business capability and intended activities in relation to Visa issuing and acquiring.

As a result of the review the applicant is assigned a risk rating between A and E. A rating of A or B is considered to be investment grade. If the applicant is rated C, D or E, it will be required to provide financial safeguards as a condition of membership. The applicant will be informed at this stage if safeguards are required.

Step 4: Anti-Money laundering (AML) review

In accordance with the Visa Europe AML Programme, Visa Europe will conduct an AML review on an entity applying or membership. As part of this process the applicant will be asked to share its AML policy with Visa Europe and Visa Europe will conduct open and closed searches to identify any AML or regulatory risk exposure.

For a high level overview of the access requirements for each membership type click here.

Step 5: Review of application and decision

Visa Europe will review the application and submit the application to its relevant decision-making body for review and approval. Once approval has been granted, Visa Europe will send the Membership Deed to the new member for signature. The Deed includes a licence to use the technology and trademarks of Visa Europe. It governs the relationship between Visa Europe and the member and, together with the Visa Europe Operating Regulations, sets out the rights and obligations of both parties. The Visa Europe Operating Regulations can be accessed here.

Step 6: Technical implementation

Once the Membership Deed has been signed, the new member is in a position to prepare for access to the Visa systems to provide Visa payment services in line with its membership type. The specific systems that the member requires access to will depend on its intended business activity. Access to the required systems will involve a process of testing and certification to ensure that the new member can perform its activities in accordance with Visa Europe’s system requirements and to ensure that the security and integrity of Visa Europe’s system is maintained.


There are membership fees for being accepted into Visa Europe. Fees differ depending on the type of membership applied for and the products and services the applicant intends to provide. At the time of application, the Visa Europe representative will explain the fees that are applicable to that individual applicant.

Who to contact

For further information on becoming a member of Visa Europe please click here.

Information on how to become either a Merchant Agent or a Third Party Agent can be found here.