ANNOUNCEMENT: UK Adviser is now PA Adviser. Read more.

Expats face banking lottery

Expats face a lottery over whether or not they are able to keep existing UK bank accounts open.


The survey by Expat Money Channel, which is campaigning for the UK government and the financial regulators to support expats’ rights to hold a UK bank account, found that many banks apply a “lottery-style approach” to expat savers, applying different rules even to the same customer base.

The website said this lottery can depend on who an expat banks with, how long they have banked with them, whether they retain a UK address and what type of account they hold.

Of the 60% of respondents which continued to have a UK based account, 33% said they had encountered problems including not being allowed to have a credit or debit card associated with the account, being required to open offshore accounts with the same bank and having difficulties switching to better rate paying accounts.

Expat Money Channel said the findings were worrying as there are many practical reasons why an expat may need to continue to have a UK bank account, not least the payment of state or private pensions which can be made even more difficult if the country in which they are in does not have an agreement with the UK to pay pensions directly overseas.

The website also argued that setting up an offshore account with a UK bank is out of reach for many expats, with an increasing number of international accounts requiring new customers to have a minimum annual salary of £50,000 or savings of £25,000.

According to the research, Lloyds TSB is the most likely bank to ask an expat to close their account, while HSBC and First Direct (which is also part of HSBC) are the most open to letting expats keep their accounts.

The UK’s Financial Services Authority said in a statement, “There are no FSA rules covering this area and the discretion as to whether a UK bank account can still be held open or opened without a UK address lies with each and every bank and what their internal policy and practice are.”

Latest Stories