UK citizens living in EU warned bank accounts could close due to Brexit

Border control at Heathrow Airport. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA.

Border control at Heathrow Airport. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Thousands of UK citizens living in the EU are being warned their bank accounts could close due to Brexit.

Lloyds Bank, Barclays and Barclaycard and Coutts - which is owned by NatWest Group - are all warning UK customers their accounts will close by December 31.

Lloyds, alone, has written to 13,000 customers saying it will not be offering services to clients in Europe.

"I was shocked to receive a notification saying that my bank account is going to be closed in two months," Sharon Clarke, a Briton who has been living in the Netherlands for 20 years and who banks with Lloyds, told the BBC.

"They said that unless I provide a UK address, my account will be closed and I'll have to cut up my card."


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Clarke has been given until early November to close her account.

Robert Kane, who lives in Spain and has a Barclaycard credit card said it was "unbelievable" his account was about to close.

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"I find this an unbelievable situation that Barclaycard will lose so many thousands of customers because of Brexit," Kane said.

"I don't have a UK address as I live in Spain and have done for the last 14 years. They did not offer me any advice other than cut up my card, cancel any regular payments and carry on paying outstanding balances."

Experts have claimed many UK expats could lose out because of changes after Brexit that will leave lenders without an EU banking licence and therefore make the cost of operating in come countries too costly.

Sarah Hall, a fellow at UK in a Changing Europe, said that EU-wide banking rules will not apply to Britain after Brexit.

She said: "Some UK banks decided the size and scale of the client base is small, not profitable enough to warrant a subsidiary, so they have determined they will exit that market. It's a potential postcode lottery.

"This means the market will be harder to navigate as a customer. It's less certain and could mean less choice and maybe higher interest and lower saving rates because of less competition."

A source at NatWest, which owns Coutts, told the BBC it had no intention of closing accounts unless there is no other option and any customers who may be affected will be contacted. 

HSBC and Santander have no plans to close British expat accounts.

In a statement, Lloyds said: "We have written to a small number of customers living in affected EU countries to let them know that due to the UK's exit from the EU, regrettably we will no longer be able to provide them with some UK-based banking services."

Barclays would not reveal how many accounts are going to be closed, but said it would be contacting affected customers.

The UK trade body UK Finance said the finance industry had been working hard to get ready for Brexit.

"Where possible, firms want to keep providing banking services to customers living in the EEA after the transition period.

"The impact on each customer will vary depending on the operating model of their bank or provider, the product or service being provided, and the legal and regulatory framework in the country in which they are resident."

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