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Thousands of British expats “risk being stripped of UK bank accounts and credit cards”

Thousands of British expats living in Portugal risk having their UK bank accounts “closed within weeks” due to post-Brexit rules.

The Sunday Times has broken this story saying Lloyds, Barclays and Coutts are among a number of UK banks that have started to give notice to expatriate customers, saying their accounts will be closed at 11pm on December 31.

One Barclays customer who lives in France told the paper she has already received a letter saying her Barclaycard will be terminated next month, despite being a customer for more than 40 years.

Other Barclays customers living in Spain, France and Belgium have also confirmed they have received similar advice.

Says the Mail, Lloyds Bank has confirmed that it will be withdrawing services from Holland, Slovakia, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Portugal. It’s a move that will affect around 13,000 Brits living in these countries.

One way round the ‘rules’ is for customers living in Europe to give the UK addresses of family members. But this doesn’t detract from the fact that upon completion of Brexit and the UK’s departure from the EU, it will become illegal for UK banks to provide for British customers living in the EU “without applying for new banking licences”.

Stresses the Mail, the procedure for applying for new banking licences is “a bureaucratic nightmare”, hence why banks are choosing simply to pull their services.

Lloyds for example, came to the decision back in August, and has been sending out letters to EU-based clients ever since.

A statement from the Treasury says: “We expect banks to treat their customers fairly and provide timely communications to enable them to make appropriate decisions,’ says the Mail. ‘However, the provision of banking services is a commercial decision for firms based on a variety of factors, including the local law and regulation of specific EEA countries.’

Two other major UK banks, NatWest and Santander are described as having no plans right now to close customer’s accounts but are nonetheless ‘considering their options’.

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