UK Banks To Close Accounts & Withdraw Services for Brits Living in the EU

The UK press and expat papers in Spain have all carried articles warning that thousands of Brits living in the EU will have their UK bank accounts closed by the end of the year.

In the UK the The Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Times and The Daily Telegraph to name a few, have all detailed how banks including Lloyds, Barclays and even the Queen’s bankers Coutts, will be closing expat accounts and withdrawing services.  The reason for this is the UK’s failure to agree a post-Brexit trade deal to allow cross border Financial Services to continue.

Banks are having to make decisions as to which EU countries to pull out of and which to continue operating in.

Lloyds Bank confirmed to The Sunday Times that it will be withdrawing services from Holland, Slovakia, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Portugal – a move that will affect 13,000 British customers.

The bank, which is Britain’s biggest banking group, started writing to its customers living in these countries since August, telling them that their UK bank accounts would be shut on December 31.

Barclays also confirmed that its banking and credit-card customers living in the EU had started receiving letters.

Why Are UK Banks Closing Accounts & Withdrawing Services for Brits Living in the EU?

Until now the UK banks and other financial service providers have been able to use the EU ‘passporting’ system to provide services to customers living in other EU countries.  In the absence of a Brexit trade deal, the UK will no longer be able to use the passporting system,  This means when the transition period ends, it will become illegal for UK banks and other financial service providers to offer their services to British customers living in EU countries unless they have a licence in each country to do so.

Given the relatively small amount of customers that UK banks have that live in the EU, for most UK banks and other financial service providers, it is not commercially viable to go through the process of obtaining licences and establishing branches in each EU country where they have British expat customers.

Which UK Banks Are Closing Accounts and What Services Are Being Withdrawn?

All the major UK Banks have either already confirmed that they will be closing expats accounts and withdrawing services, or are in the process of reviewing the services that they offer.  Closures will affect current and savings accounts, ISA’s, credit cards and investment accounts.

It is not just bank accounts that are affected.  Customers are also having their credit card facilities withdrawn.  And its not just banks that will not be able to continue offering services.  All financial service providers will lose the ability to serve customers in living in EU countries, unless they have opened up shop in each country where the want to provide their services.  This includes insurance providers, investment companies and firms who provide financial advice.

Will Any Banks or Other Financial Service Providers Continue Offering Services?

Most banks have already made the decision not to continue offering services in the EU.  The decisions are simply based on the commercials.  If it’s not commercially viable for big banks with thousands of customers in the EU, to continue operating, then the same will apply to other financial services providers.  Not least financial advisers.

Many Brits who moved to Spain have kept their UK financial advisers.  This is understandable given that they will usually have had a relationship with them for many years and can therefore rely on them and trust them.  The vast majority of UK financial advisers will will not have the means or justification, to go to the expense of setting themselves up in Spain, to continue servicing a few clients who live there.

The reality is that many thousands of Brits throughout Spain and the EU, stand to be abandoned by their UK banks, financial advisers and other service providers due to Brexit.

Read more about UK Financial Advisers and their EU resident clients post Brexit.

What Do Should I do If My UK Banks or Financial Service Provider is Unable to Provide Services in the EU?

A short term measure could be to use the address of a friend or family member.  This could help you keep your account open for the time being giving you some time to plan and sort out new arrangements. If you do this, it’s important that you check the terms of the the accounts that you have.  Most accounts that include a credit facility, (overdraft, credit card etc), actually require you to be resident in the UK, not just have a UK address.

It really does depend on your situation, and the reason why you use the account provided by your UK bank.  If you need an account denominated in GBP (pounds), to make and receive payments, then online account providers like for example Revolut, may have a solution.  They offer accounts in the main currencies including GBP, and support direct debits in both EUR and GBP.

Some Spanish banks also offer GBP accounts, and there are also a few international banks such as Standard Bank, that provide accounts in all the main currencies.  With the advent of online banks, it’s also quite easy to open accounts with EU online banks, so there are quite a few options to set up alternative banking arrangements.

One thing to also be aware of is that come 1st January, Spanish banks will be able to charge to receive payments from UK banks, so it’s worthwhile taking the time now to fully review your banking setup.

Of course, whilst there are options, when relationships stretch back many decades and your banking has been a habit of a lifetime, being abandoned is a bitter pill to swallow.

If you are affected by this or think you may be, the first thing you should do is contact your UK bank or financial adviser to find out where you stand.  If you then need to set up new banking arrangements, it’s advisable to do so without delay.

If you’re not sure what this means to you, whether you’re affected, or not sure what to do and would like to speak to a professional who can guide and advise you, please feel free to get in touch and ask to speak to one of our Financial Services Advisers.

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Can I keep my ISA’s when I move to Spain?

ISA’s are very tax efficient ways to save or invest, as you pay no tax on savings interest, (not that you get any these days), and virtually no tax on investment returns. They are therefore usually the first type of saving or investment account that people will have.  For this reason, and the fact that there is a generous annual allowance to save into them, you like many other may have built up sizeable amounts in ISA’s.

You may also have reached, or be approaching retirement, and relying on this tax efficient ISA nest egg, to provide extra income to supplement your pension.  For some, an ISA may even be their ‘pension’.

ISA’s and moving to Spain

So if you’re moving, or have moved to Spain, can you keep your ISA?  The short answer is yes.  According to

If you open an Individual Savings Account (ISA) in the UK and then move abroad, you can’t put money into it after the tax year that you move (unless you’re a Crown employee working overseas or their spouse or civil partner).

You must tell your ISA provider as soon as you stop being a UK resident.

However, you can keep your ISA open and you’ll still get UK tax relief on money and investments held in it.

You can pay into your ISA again if you return and become a UK resident 

Great – you can keep your ISA, and continue to benefit from it’s tax efficiency!  Well not exactly.  When you move from the UK to Spain, you also move from the UK tax system to Spain’s tax system.  So you will continue to get UK tax relief, however your ISA will (or should), get Spanish tax treatment.

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Spanish Mortgage Clausula Suelo Claim

The Real Decreto – ley 1/2017, de 20 de enero, implemented measures to help consumers to reclaim money overpaid due to a ‘clausula suelo‘, (floor clause) in their mortgages (hipotecas) was approved on 20/01/2017.  This law dictates that banks must:

a) Allow their customers to reclaim their money without going to court, and inform their customers how to do so.

b) On receipt of a claim from a customer, make an offer to pay back money over paid plus interest.

c) If the customer accepts the offer, pay the amount offered back to the customer.

The maximum period for the consumer and the entity to reach an agreement is three months from the submission of the claim, and it will be understood that the out of court procedure has been concluded without agreement, allowing the customer to try and claim the money back via the courts, if either the:

  • bank rejects the clients request.
  • term of three months passes without any communication from the bank.
  • customer does not agree with the calculation of the amount to be returned by the bank and rejects the offer.
  • bank hasn’t made an offer within 3 months of the reclamation.

Most banks have already removed the ‘clausula suelo’ from their mortgages, so in most cases claims submitted will simply be for a refund of over-payments. For other banks that have not yet removed the clause, the process will be the same, however the claim will include a request to have the clause removed, as well as claim for a refund of over-payments.

Whichever bank you are with, the starting point of any possible ‘clausula suelo’ claim, is knowing whether or not your mortgage contract has this clause hidden in it. Santander, BBVA, ING, Cajamar, Caja Sur, Bank Inter, EVO, ABANCA, and Banco Popular, have all done away with the clause in their mortgages, so if you are with any of these banks, you should already have been notified about it, and following this new legislation, in time, everyone whose mortgage is affected, should also hear from their bank.

You don’t need to wait to hear from your bank.  There are plenty of lawyers offering to take up ‘clausula suelo’ claims, many on a no win no fee basis, because they know that they’ll win. This might seem attractive to begin with, however their success fee will typically be a hefty percentage, often half or more of any refund that they obtain from the bank.

We can help you save on unnecessary legal costs and expenses, first by providing a free assessment of your case, and then if we determine that you have a valid ‘clausula suelo’ claim, we offer a low cost assistance service to prepare, present and manage your ‘clausula suelo’ claim.

If you would like us to look into your ‘clausula suelo’ claim, click below to begin you enquiry.

Spanish Mortgage Clausula Suelo Claim

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