UK banks criticised over treatment of expat customers

UK Banks

A recent report has highlighted the poor service British expats receive when they try to keep a British bank account open, with high-street banks criticised for having a “lottery-style approach”.

According to results from a survey conducted by Expat Money Channel, British people who leave the UK and become expats often encounter difficulties with their existing high-street bank accounts. With some banks even insisting that the accounts are closed.

Worryingly, the report has discovered that the factors banks use to determine whether expat customers can keep their accounts open or not follow no set pattern. Often they appear to be randomly determined by what the survey described as a “lottery-style approach”.

Around 50 expats were quizzed in the survey and 33 percent claimed they had problems with their bank after becoming expats. The survey also found that in cases where banks allow an account to remain open, certain privileges may be reduced.

Currently there are no rules as to whether banks do or do not allow expat customers to retain accounts, an FSA spokesman said: “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.”

These findings add further weight to the argument that having an offshore account is essential for expatriates. Having an onshore account can even be a hindrance for expats tax-wise, especially if they are interested in becoming UK non-resident. Learn more about offshore bank accounts here.