UK Banks accounts after BREXIT
As the deadline approaches one issue that we are frequently being asked about lately by concerned clients, is that some UK banks have been writing to their customers resident in the EU putting them on notice that their UK bank accounts and credit cards will be closed either at the end of the year or, in some cases even earlier, as a result of Brexit.
Although some banks have already contacted some customers, it is apparent that only some types of account are affected and only in some EU countries. The two main banking institutions that have taken such action so far are Barclays and the Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland. Many other banks have stated that they ‘currently have no plans to close customer accounts, but they are monitoring the situation’. Given that this could potentially affect all of us with ties to the UK banking system, we thought this would be a good topic to focus on this month.
So why are some banks closing UK expats’ accounts?
UK banks and other financial firms are currently allowed to trade as part of the European Economic Area (EEA), as all member countries use the same regulatory framework. This arrangement is known as ‘passporting’, and it is why Brits who have moved abroad have been able to use credit cards and banking services from UK-based banks, even though they’re no longer living in the country. However, once the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December, this passporting arrangement will no longer be in place – that is, unless a specific agreement to carry it on is reached as part of a Brexit deal. With no such deal confirmed, UK banks would have to attempt to negotiate and fulfil the stipulations from every EEA country’s regulator. All of them work differently and a continuation of providing services to UK expats will be more feasible for some banks than others.
The impact on each customer will vary depending on how their bank or financial institution currently operates, the product or service being provided, and the legal and regulatory framework in the country in which they are resident. In effect, this means that the situation is different for each financial service offered by each financial provider in each country; for some banks, offering certain products in certain countries simply won’t work. So, certain services and accounts may be withdrawn in some EU countries but not in others.
We understand that many banks are still trying to figure out a way of working in different EU countries after the Brexit transition period, while also waiting to see if a deal can be agreed between the UK and the EU. The Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have written to banks informing them that, if they do decide to close customer accounts, they must have plans in place to service their Europe-based customers properly through the process, taking into account how their actions might impact on customer’s individual circumstances and the alternative products available to them.