Barclays Tells UK Expat Retail Clients Their Accounts Will Close

Tom Burroughes Group Editor 25 September 2023

Barclays Tells UK Expat Retail Clients Their Accounts Will Close

The UK lender's intention to close accounts applies to retail clients living abroad and doesn't affect private banking and those with international accounts. Barclays had fired the starting gun on this process in 2021.

Retail clients of Barclays living outside the UK are being told they must bank with another lender in six months’ time. However, customers of the international banking arm aren’t affected.

“Our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK. We will no longer be offering personal current or savings accounts to retail customers with addresses registered with us outside of the United Kingdom, subject to limited exceptions. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and explain the next steps they need to take,” a spokesperson told this news service in an emailed statement.

Some media reports (Daily Telegraph, Birmingham Live) used the expression “de-banking” to describe what UK-listed Barclays has done, creating echoes of the recent controversy over Coutts’s attempt to remove an account from former UKIP leader Nigel Farage. (It transpired that Coutts, part of NatWest, had compiled a dossier on Farage’s political views, which it said did not “align” with its “values.” The CEO of
, and CEO of Coutts, both resigned. The saga has prompted calls from the government and media for tighter regulation on how banks handle clients.)

Barclays pointed out that it had told expats using its UK banking services back in 2021 that the changes were coming. 

This news service understands that Barclays reviewed its retail product and service offerings outside of the UK in 2021 and decided to close accounts in certain jurisdictions. It has contacted clients with a personal current or savings account (excluding ISAs, merchant cash advances, bonds and other similar complex deposits) in select jurisdictions. It isn’t closing mortgages, loans, or Individual Saving Accounts for UK expats early. A client with a Barclays UK loan won’t be able to apply for additional loans if they are registered outside the UK. 

The changes only apply to the Barclays UK accounts listed in the correspondence sent to impacted in-scope customers, and does not include any account, product or service provided by another part of the Barclays Group, such as Barclays Bank PLC (the international business).

This news service understands that the vast majority of our customers are based in the UK, with customers based outside of the UK representing only a small percentage of the bank’s overall customer base.

Barclays, along with other major UK banks, has a “ringfence” between the UK, retail arm of the bank for the purpose of any bailouts by the state in the event of a financial crisis, and the private banking side looking after wealthy clients, many of whom live and work overseas. The ringfence concept was introduced in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash. (See an interview here with Barclays about how its ringfence position was taking shape.)

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