The accounts of thousands of Britons living in the European Union will be closed by the end of the year due to the UK’s failure to agree on a post-Brexit trade deal.
Lloyds, Barclays and Coutts have informed retail and corporate customers that they will lose their accounts before or when the Brexit transition period ends on Dec.31 and more banks are expected to follow suit.
Lloyds Banking services The group, which includes Halifax and Bank of Scotland, has contacted its 13,000 customers in the Netherlands, Slovakia, Germany, Ireland and Portugal, warning them that they must make alternative arrangements because the bank is no longer permitted to provide services.
A spokesperson said: “We have written to a small number of clients who live in the affected European Union countries to inform them that due to the UK’s exit from the European Union, unfortunately we will not be able to provide them with some UK banking services.
“We want to keep clients informed and advise on next steps.”
UK financial services can currently trade across the European Economic Area (EEA) because member states are bound by the same regulatory framework.
The arrangement, known as the “passport”, expires at the end of the year, and while the United Kingdom passed legislation so that European Union banks could continue to provide services to clients in Britain, the European Union did not do the same.
Unless a trade deal is agreed with the European Union, financial institutions in the UK will have to adhere to often vague rules that vary from country to country and depend on the services provided by any type of bank.
Last week, the Dutch National Bank confirmed that British banks will no longer be able to provide checking accounts or savings to retail customers in the Netherlands.
Clients who do business with companies that own subsidiaries in the European Union are transferred their accounts, but banks that do not have an arm in the European Union must apply for a license to trade in each country of the European Economic Area. Some banks have a very small customer base in the European Union to justify the cost.
A customer of Lloyds said she feared being cut from her UK pension payments after the bank informed her that she would not be able to use her checking and savings accounts after 2 November. Its balance will be returned to it as a check and all payments after this date will be returned to the sender.
“I don’t know what will happen with the tax rebates from HMRC or the council tax and bills on property that we own in the UK,” she said.
“I don’t know if direct debits and standing orders for UK institutions can be arranged from a Dutch bank and there will be a lot of expenses incurred if payments that skip over the network are returned to the sender or if I have to convert from Euros to British pounds whenever we are in the Kingdom United “.
Barclays has also notified clients across the European Economic Area that their accounts will be closed.
A woman living in Germany has been told that she will no longer be able to use her Barclay Card, which she relies on for transactions within the UK.
The customer, who did not want to be named, said, “I got the card for 40 years and paid it every month from my pensions, which is paid into my account in the UK, so I’m not sure I will. Eligible for a German credit card.”
She said she owned property in the UK, paid taxes in the country and that she wanted to “keep my financial arrangements there in case I need to live there again”.
A Barclays spokesperson said: “In light of the UK leaving the European Union at the end of 2020, we are continuing to review the services we provide to clients within the European Economic Area, and any directly affected clients will be contacted.
Other banks have yet to decide on future arrangements. Santander and NatWest said they are keeping the situation under review and currently have no plans to withdraw retail or corporate accounts.
HSBC, which has a large number of clients in France, Germany and Switzerland, said that as an international bank it could continue to serve UK customers across the European Union, but would keep them informed of any changes that might affect services.
Financial services in the UK is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority which has said it expects banks to engage with national regulators to assess the impact of local laws on clients and inform customers of any changes in a timely manner.
According to UK Finance, banks should de-select the legislation of 30 different countries to work out whether they can continue serving customers.
“Where possible, companies want to continue providing banking services to customers living in the European Economic Area after the transition period, ”a company spokesperson said.
“The impact on each customer will vary depending on the operating model of the bank or service provider, the product or service offered, and the legal and regulatory framework in the country in which they reside.”
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