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How post-Brexit bank account changes could affect British people in France

As the end of the Brexit transition period looms, the UK has so far failed to negotiate access to the European passporting scheme for banks - here's what that means if you are British and live in France.

How post-Brexit bank account changes could affect British people in France
Photo: AFP

Over the weekend it was reported that, with just three months to go until the Brexit transition period ends, the UK has so far not managed to negotiate a continuation of EU banking rules – known as passporting.

This means that all UK banks will need to apply for new banking licences to provide certain services in each of the 27 different EU countries.

And some banks have apparently decided that this is not worth the hassle in certain EU countries and have begun writing to their British customers registered as living abroad to inform them that they will be closing their accounts or cancelling their credit cards.

Tell us: Have you been affected by the closure of a UK account?

Here we take a closer look at the situation for British people living in France.

Is it all banks?

No, it's important to be clear that there is no blanket closure of accounts for all Brits living abroad, it depends on who you bank with and the type of account you have.

Essentially, applying for new licences will create a lot more admin for banks.

Banks already have to do this for many non-EU countries so clearly it is possible to do. But it seems that some banks are deciding that it's not worth the hassle of doing this for all 27 countries in the EU separately, especially ones where they only have a few customers.

As a country that has a large number of British people living here (estimates vary from 150,000 to 300,000) there is a good chance that banks will decided that it is worth their while to obtain a licence for France.

Is it all account types?

No. Again, this depends on the type of account you have, with straightforward current/checking accounts less likely to be closed.

It could also be the case that certain products become unavailable – for example many Barclaycard customers in France report being told that they will no longer be able to use their credit card.

Is it only if I use my French address?

Many British people living in France use a 'care of' address in the UK for their banking, for example the address of a family member who will forward on all correspondence they receive.

At this stage it seems that only people who have officially changed their address to a French one are receiving letters from their bank.

Can I challenge my bank's decision?

Banks are free to decide what products they offer and to who, but their decisions can be challenged via the Financial Ombudsman Service – find out more about the procedure to file a complaint here.

 

The UK government told British newspaper The Times that “the provision of banking services is a commercial decision for firms based on a number of factors” so Brits in France probably shouldn't hold their breath for any help from that direction.

Which banks?

We have asked all the major names in UK banking what their policy is for customers in France, here are the responses we have received so far. We will update this page as soon as we receive more responses.

Santander – the Spanish banking giant said it was keeping the situation under constant review but told The Local: “We have no current plans to close any of our retail [personal banking] or corporate accounts.”

Lloyds – the bank is understood to be closing business accounts – not personal accounts – of customers living in the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Portugal. However the bank said it had no current plans to discontinue any services for customers in France.

A spokesman said: “We have written to a small number of customers living in affected EU countries to let them know that due to the UK’s exit from the EU, regrettably we will no longer be able to provide them with some UK-based banking services. We want to keep customers informed and offer advice on next steps.”

HSBC – A spokesman for HSBC confirmed on Twitter that current accounts for customers in France would not be affected, provided they were used at least once every 12 months.

Barclaycard – numerous readers of The Local France have been in touch to say that they had received letters from Barclaycard telling them that their account would be closed. Barclaycard is separate to Barclays bank and it is understood that Barclays current accounts are not affected, although the company has not commented on the record so far.

Nationwide – a spokesman said no decisions had yet been taken on accounts held by UK nationals living in the EU. They told The Local: “We are closely monitoring all developments regarding Brexit and are prepared to deal with any outcome.

“Part of this preparedness includes reviewing the ongoing availability of products and services for those members who are resident in the European Union and the European Economic Area.

“Because the outcome of Brexit is not yet clear and the position continues to evolve, there is currently no certainty as to any actions we will be required to take. Regrettably we cannot provide any further detail on the impact on specific products and transactions at this point. However, we will communicate with members as soon as possible about any necessary changes that impact them.”

Member comments

  1. This article on UK bank accounts after Brexit is most imformative. However you mention the response of some of the banks, I wonder if you have had any response from any of the building societies such as the Nationnwide with whom I both bank and have a credit card registered with my French address.

  2. I saw a report elsewhere saying that NatWest had stated that they have no current plans to withdraw banking services from British people with EU addresses, but are keeping the situation under review.

  3. BARCLAYS HAVE NOTIFIED ME THAT THEY ARE CLOSING ALL MY ACCOUNTS WITH THEM, CURRENT AND SAVINGS, DESPITE HAVING BANKED WITH THEM FOR OVER 50YRS. AND NOT USING ANY ‘ADD-ONS’ (i.e. Travel ins., financial advice, mortgage, etc.). I HAVE BEEN TOLD IT IS A BLANKET CLOSURE ACROSS THE WHOLE OF THE EU OWING TO BREXIT, NO MATTER HOW MUCH MONEY IS HELD WITH THEM. I WONDER IF THIS IS ACTUALLY THE CASE.

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TRAVEL NEWS

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Visits to the Channel islands from France have halved since Brexit, and French local authorities say they may be forced to cut the regular ferry service, asking for the passport requirement to be waived for French visitors.

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Travel to and from the Channel islands – which are British crown dependancies – has reduced significantly since Brexit, when passports became a requirement for those travelling in and out of the islands and their ports.

Now the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France has asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.

Jean Morin told Ouest France that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.

“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin. 

He added that if a solution is not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023, then local authorities will stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025”, Morin told Ouest France.

Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU. 

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: How Brexit has changed the rules on pensions, investments and bank accounts for Brits in France

DNO re-launched operations in April and since then, the company, and by extension the département – who plays a large role in funding it via a public service delegation – has been losing significant funds.

According to Franceinfo, the number of passengers has been cut in half since passport requirements were introduced. Franceinfo estimates that for one ticket for one passenger costing €30, the département spends €200.

According to Morin, the ideal solution would be to require a simple ID for tourists seeking to take just day-long or weekend-long stays on the islands – which reportedly represents at least 90 percent of the boats’ usual passengers.

“The Jersey government is working hard on the issue and is waiting for an agreement from London and the European Union. There is the possibility that things could move quickly”, Morin told Franceinfo on Tuesday.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, boats going to and from the French mainland carried at least 110,000 people per year. In 2022, only 40,000 passengers made the journey, Olivier Normand, the sales manager of Manche Îles Express, told Actu France.

Normand had expected the decline, however. He told Actu France that the company had taken a survey, which found that almost half (between 40 and 50 percent) of their clientele did not have a passport. 

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