TENS of thousands of British ex-pats living in Europe are receiving notices from their UK banks that their accounts will be closed in weeks due to post-Brexit rules.
Lloyds, Barclays and Coutts are just some of the UK banks starting to give notice to ex-pats to warn their accounts will be closed at 11 pm on December 31. EU bureaucracy is being reported as the reason that UK banks, trying to continue to serve British ex-pats across Europe, are pulling out of the market. Many banks have decided to simply pull their services from some EU countries than continue to wait for the EU and the UK to make a deal.
The lack of a deal means it is now up to banks to decide which countries they want to continue operating in. The UK Treasury has however urged banks to treat customers “fairly” and said pulling accounts is a “commercial decision”.
Alternative arrangements will have to be made
Lloyds Bank confirmed it will pull services from Holland, Slovakia, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Portugal – a move that impacts 13,000 Brits. Barclays also confirmed bank and credit-card customers living in the EU are being warned their accounts may be closed.
Thousands of customers living in Spain, France and Belgium have already received notice their Barclaycards will be cancelled on November 16. Coutts also confirmed it will be no longer serve customers based in the EU, and told Brits they will have to make “alternative arrangements”. There may be some respite however as Natwest and Santander have said they currently do not have plans to shut down accounts but are “considering their options“. The UK government has not yet negotiated post-Brexit banking rules so the current regulations will not apply.
Incredibly complex to serve customers
A source who works at one of the banks mentioned explained: “In some cases, continuing to serve customers would be incredibly complex, extremely expensive and very time-consuming, and simply would not make economic sense. This is passporting — this is the reality of Brexit.”
Under the current legislation, it will become illegal for UK banks to provide services to ex-pat customers living in Europe after Britain leaves the EU. This is because 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 left to strike a deal and 102 days before the transition period officially ends. The transition period dictated by the Withdrawal Agreement comes to the end of 11 pm on December 31 and marks Britain’s official exit from the EU.
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