Expat Brits to lose UK bank accounts

A number of large British banks are set to stop serving UK citizens resident in the EU as the government has not yet negotiated post-Brexit rules. Tens of thousands of British expats in Europe, including those living in Spain, will be stripped of UK bank accounts and credit cards, after the UK government failed to negotiate post Brexit rules.

Lloyds, Barclays and Coutts have started warning EU-based customers they will stop serving them at the end of the year, according to reports in the British press. The written notice says that these banks will close customer accounts at 11pm on 31st December.

If pan-European banking rules no longer apply to the UK once the Brexit transition period ends on 31st December, it would become illegal for UK banks to provide services for British customers in the EU without applying for new banking licences. So far, no new arrangement has been agreed leaving the bank with a bureaucratic nightmare that means it’s easier to pull their services. Otherwise the banks would have to negotiate the specific banking rules of 27 member states in order to manage client accounts.

Banks are making their own decisions as to which EU countries to pull out of and which to continue operating in. Lloyds, one of the country’s largest banking groups, told the Sunday Times that 13,000 customers living in the Netherlands, Slovakia, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Portugal will see their current accounts terminated by the end of the year.

Barclays also confirmed that its banking and credit-card customers living in the EU had started receiving letters. Barclays said: “The timings for account closure will depend on the type of product that a customer holds, but we will always give notice to customers.”

Barclays customers living in Spain, France and Belgium have also confirmed that they received notice their Barclaycards will be cancelled. Two other major UK banks, NatWest and Santander have said that so far, they had no plans to close customer’s accounts but are ‘considering their options’.

The UK Treasury responded to the reports by saying: “We expect banks to treat their customers fairly and provide timely communications to enable them to make appropriate decisions,” conceding that “the provision of banking services is a commercial decision for firms based on a variety of factors, including the local law and regulation of specific EEA countries.”