by Namrata Majithia 1st December 2020
British expats in EU face ‘significant disruption’ as UK banks close accounts

Many of the 1.8 million British expats living in Europe will have their UK bank accounts closed imminently because of Brexit – and they should urgently seek alternatives to “sidestep avoidable issues,” Nigel Green, CEO of deVere Group, warned this morning.

Dubai-based DeVere Group counts more than 80,000 mainly expatriate clients.

It emerged in September that several UK banks, including Barclays and Coutts, had started writing to customers giving notice that their accounts would be closed by 31 December following the British government’s failure to negotiate a new passporting agreement with the EU post-Brexit.

Green warned: “Many Britons who live in Europe face being stripped of their UK bank accounts and credit cards within weeks, because of the failure of the EU and Britain to agree rules for operating after Brexit.”

“Most of the major UK banks are already writing to customers to inform them that they will no longer be able to provide them with banking services, unless they have a UK address.”

UK banks will no longer be allowed to provide services to customers in the EU without the right banking licences, when Britain formally leaves the bloc on 31 December.

Currently, they operate under a ‘passporting’ system, which allows banks in the EU to trade freely in any other state in the European Economic Area (EEA) without the need for more authorisation.

“To operate without passporting becomes enormously complex, incredibly time-consuming and very expensive for banks. This is the reason why they are ditching many of their customers across Europe – even if they have been with them for decades,” said Green.

“We only have a matter of weeks until it will become for illegal for most UK banks to service many clients in the EU.

“This will cause considerable disruption for many individuals, families, businesses and other organisations, especially where there are larger deposits, standing orders, regular payments and credit facilities to another bank.”

He added: “I would urge those who could be affected to urgently seek alternatives with providers that already operate under pan-European rules to sidestep avoidable issues.”

Last month, deVere Group reported that Vault, its global money app and card service, has experienced a jump in enquiries of 67% in Q3.

The app allows users to deposit, store, transfer and exchange money in most major currencies.   The deVere Vault Prepaid Mastercard® can be used online, in-store and at any ATM location across the globe where Mastercard is accepted.

Green concluded: “There’s a growing need for clients to have borderless access to, and management and use of their money.

“Challenger banks and fintech firms are stepping up as traditional banks are now having to routinely abandon their customers due to Brexit.”

HSBC and Santander, which already have EU-based banking operations across the continent, have said they have no plans to close British expats’ accounts.