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BREXIT

Q&A session for Brits in Spain on coronavirus and Brexit

Any Brits in Spain who have specific questions about an issue concerning them during the coronavirus crisis have an opportunity to seek a response from officials at the British Embassy.

Q&A session for Brits in Spain on coronavirus and Brexit
British embassy staff in Spain are holding a virtual drop in session.Photo: AFP

The British Embassy in Madrid held regular ‘live’ sessions on Facebook in the run up to Brexit to help address any queries held by UK citizens living in Spain. They have also held regular town hall style sessions in different towns and cities across Spain during the last year.

But the current lockdown makes either of those options impossible – even the live facebook session as logistics are harder now working from home conditions have been imposed on embassy staff.

So instead, experts at the embassy and consular teams will take questions  during a virtual “drop-in” session for those looking for answers to issues that are affecting them during the coronavirus crisis.

These may be questions about travel to and within Spain, financial worries, or how restrictions may affect British second or holiday home owners with property in Spain.

But you may also be worrying about how the coronavirus is impacting your plans ahead of Brexit.

“The session is aimed at residents and can cover concerns due to COVID-19 or how this impacts on the actions they need to take during the transition period – so it will be possible to raise questions relating to EU exit as well,” explained a British Embassy spokesperson.

If you want to get involved visit the Brits in Spain facebook page and post a question between 1pm and 5pm (Spanish time) on Wednesday.

The questions will be examined and those the answers prepared over the following week when they will appear in short videos answered by foreign office experts posted on the Brits in Spain page.   

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BANKING

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

UK nationals living in Spain have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change. Have you been affected?

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Spain and other EU countries have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. 

A number of readers of The Local’s network of news websites have contacted us to report receiving either letters or messages in their online banking telling them that their accounts would be closed because of their residency in Spain or in other countries in the EU.

A Barclays spokesperson told The Local: “As a ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.

“We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”  

Customers are being given six months to make alternative arrangements. The changes affect all personal current accounts or savings accounts, but do not affect ISAs, loans or mortgages.

During the Brexit transition period Barclays closed Barclaycard accounts of customers in Spain, but did not indicate any changes to standard bank accounts.

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Around the same time several other British high street banks began closing accounts of British customers who live in the EU, although with the exception of Barclaycard customers in Spain who were largely spared.

Many UK nationals who live in Spain maintain at least one UK bank account – in addition to a Spanish account – sometimes just for savings but others use their accounts regularly to receive income such as pensions or income from rental property or – for remote workers – to receive income for work done in the UK.

Not having a UK bank account can make financial transactions in the UK more complicated or incur extra banking fees.

READ MORE: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Spain?

Since Brexit, the UK banking sector no longer has access to the ‘passporting’ system which allows banks to operate in multiple EU countries without having to apply for a separate banking licence for each country.

And it seems that many UK high street banks are deciding that the extra paperwork is not worth the hassle and are withdrawing completely from certain EU markets. 

When British banks began withdrawing services from customers in the EU back in 2020, a UK government spokesman 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 Spain probably shouldn’t hold their breath for any help from that direction.

READ ALSO: Premium Bond holders in Spain may have to cash in if no UK bank account

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