Brexit: British expats in Europe 'will be stripped of United Kingdom bank accounts'

Marco Green
September 23, 2020

Lloyds, Barclays and Coutts have started warning EU-based customers they will stop servicing them at the end of the year, according to The Sunday Times. Lloyds in particular, being Britain's largest banking group (including Halifax and Bank of Scotland) has confirmed that this may affect up to 13,000 customers, including those with current accounts in Holland, Slovakia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Portugal.

Customers who bank with Barclays and are living in Spain, France and Belgium have been informed their Barclaycard will be cancelled.

Barclays has confirmed that some of its Barclaycard credit-card customers living overseas have received similar notices, with Britons in Spain, France and Germany understood to be among those contacted.

Stemming from unproductive Brexit negotiations, which have not yet managed to define the UK-EU relationship in 2021 and beyond, the root cause for banks" action is an end to "passporting' - the mutual trade of financial services between the two entities owing to equivalent regulatory frameworks. Santander and NatWest said they are keeping the situation under review and now have no plans to withdraw retail or corporate accounts.

"We have written to a small number of customers (13,000) living in affected European Union countries to let them know that due to the UK's exit from the European Union, regrettably we will no longer be able to provide them with some UK-based banking services", said a spokesperson for Lloyds.

Jason Porter, director of specialist expat advisory firm Blevins Franks notes that passporting is now possible because the UK Financial Conduct Authority is bound by the same rules and standards as other regulators in the EU.

The UK's financial services are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, which said it expected banks to engage with national regulators to assess the impact of local laws on customers and to inform customers of any changes on a regular basis.

A Coutts spokesperson told International Adviser: "In the event that no alternative to the European Economic Area (EEA) passporting regime for financial services is agreed between the United Kingdom and EU, we have taken the hard decision to withdraw from offering our services to clients who reside in the EEA". In some countries, the customer base is too small to pay off.

In a statement, the UK Treasury said: 'We expect banks to treat their customers fairly and provide timely communications to enable them to make appropriate decisions'.

For Nigel Green, CEO and founder of deVere Group, UK banks are "outrageously failing" many tens of thousands of expat clients across Europe.

Green says: "Most of the UK's high street banks are plotting to unceremoniously abandon their customers across Europe within weeks".

'The move by these banks will be a major inconvenience to many tens of thousands of Brits living in the European Union'.

And as each of the 27 member states has various different rules, without a blanket agreement it makes it very hard for banks to continue to serve customers.

Boris Johnson has just a month to strike a deal and 102 days before the transition period ends.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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