Chaos as banks shut expats’ accounts as end of Brexit transition looms

Chaos as banks shut expats’ accounts amid fears over restrictions after Brexit transition ends on January 1

  • UK banks will have to abide by new rules after the end of Brexit transition period 
  • They will lose EU ‘passporting’ rights from Dec 31, prompting service shake-up
  • Banks have told British expats in Europe that their accounts will be withdrawn
  • Do you know someone affected by this? Email: 

Thousands of British expats who live on the European continent are facing banking chaos as UK lenders scramble to prepare for life outside the EU and cancel accounts. 

The end of the ‘standstill’ post-Brexit transition period on December 31 will see British banks having to abide by different rules if they want to operate in mainland Europe. 

Brexit means they are losing so-called ‘passporting’ rights which allow them to provide services and products across the continent.

From January 1 they will need country-specific licences in order to provide certain products which has prompted some banks to terminate services, with expats told mortgages, credit cards and savings accounts are being withdrawn.

The end of the ‘standstill’ post-Brexit transition period on December 31 will see UK banks subject to different rules if they want to operate in the European Economic Area 

‘Passporting’ rights allow UK banks to operate across the European Economic Area which comprises of the EU’s 27 member states as well as Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. 

The end of the transition period will spell the end of those arrangements, with tens of thousands of British expats now facing a banking shake-up. 

Have your say 

Do you know someone affected by this?


The red tape associated with getting permission to operate in individual countries has reportedly led to some banks deciding it is not worth the hassle. 

According to The Times, Lloyds Banking Group has written to 13,000 current account and credit card customers who reside on the continent to advise them the products will no longer be available to them in the New Year. 

It is also said to be terminating UK mortgages handed to hundreds of expats in Slovakia. 

Meanwhile, Santander has reportedly told expats they can keep their current mortgage but will not be able to borrow any more money. 

Barclays has apparently said savings and current accounts for expats in Italy, Estonia, Slovakia and Belgium will be terminated.

A Barclays spokeswoman told the newspaper: ‘The Financial Service regulator in those countries has made clear that they expect non-EEA banks – which Barclays UK becomes after December 31 – to cease the provision of these services to customers in their countries.

‘Continuing to provide services even on a passive basis may be viewed as a criminal act.’

One banking executive told The Times it had been ‘an absolute nightmare’ trying to figure out which products could continue to be offered and where. 

A spokesman for the Treasury said: ‘We expect banks to treat their customers fairly and provide timely communications to enable them to make appropriate decisions.’

  •  Do you know someone affected by this? Email: