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

UK nationals living in Austria have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change.

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Austria
Barclays has confirmed it will close the accounts of those in the EEA. Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Austria have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. There appears not to be an option to register for a different account.

Numerous readers of The Local 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 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.”  

READ ALSO: Ask the expert: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Austria?

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 the European Union, but did not indicate any changes to standard bank accounts.

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 Austria were largely spared.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Do I need to open a local bank account when moving to Austria?

UK bank accounts for EU consumers

Many UK nationals who live in Austria maintain at least one UK bank account – in addition to an Austrian 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.

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 markets. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about opening a bank account in Austria

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 Austria probably shouldn’t hold their breath for any help from that direction.

 

Member comments

  1. i guess everyone will be switching to Transferwise (now known as Wise). I’ve been using it for years as an American, and is just the easiest and cheapest way to receive funds.

  2. This is not new news! Barclays contacted me over a year ago, and told me that I could not register my UK bank account to a French address, and that unless I provided a UK address, then the account would be closed. I provided a UK address.
    It appears that to date they have done this for changes in status, and that now they are doing it for everyone.
    Yet another example of UK banks demonstrating zero customer service, and having a total focus on cost, cost, cost.

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MONEY

Reader question: Why haven’t I received my Klimabonus in Austria yet?

Austria started paying €500 to every resident in the country in early September. But some people entitled to it still haven't received the payment. Here's why and what you can do about it.

Reader question: Why haven't I received my Klimabonus in Austria yet?

With rising inflation, the Austrian government announced several measures to try and cushion the effects of higher cost of living for those who live in the country. One of the most talked about measures is the so-called Klimabonus (officially, the full name would be something like “the climate and anti-inflation bonus”), the €500 one-off payment that every resident in the country is entitled to.

The Klimabonus is supposed to be straightforward: no need to apply for it, no long queues, no different criteria or different amounts depending on income. However, there are two rules: the recipient must live in Austria for six months in 2022, and minors receive half the amount.

READ ALSO: Reader question: I’ve received my Austrian Klimabonus as a voucher, now what?

The “easy” payments would be sent directly to the recipient’s bank account registered with FinanzOnline – those who do not have their data up to date would instead get a secure letter with Klimabonus vouchers that can be exchanged for money or used in hundreds of stores and supermarkets.

It hasn’t been that simple, though, as payments started on September 1st and many people still haven’t received their money. Here are some reasons why you might not have received your €500 payment yet.

READ ALSO: Why is Austria’s €500 climate bonus causing controversy?

You are not entitled to it

The first reason, of course, is if you are not entitled to the payment.

According to the federal government, “Everyone who has their main residence in Austria for at least 183 days in the year of entitlement receives the climate bonus – regardless of age or origin and citizenship.”

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in October 2022

This means you must have your primary residence for around six months in 2022 to receive the climate bonus this year. So if you moved this year and haven’t been here for that long, then you are not entitled to it – yet.

If you moved but are unregistered with the authorities here (in other words, you haven’t got your Meldezettel), then you are also not entitled.

You recently moved to Austria

Those who moved to Austria this year might also only get their payment next year. This is because the government uses the data from July 3rd to assess who has been in Austria for 183 days.

READ ALSO: Reader question: I recently moved to Austria, will I receive the ‘climate bonus’?

This means that if you moved in 2022 and have not been in Austria for 183 days on July 3rd, you’ll likely end up in the second payout round to be made at the end of the year.

The same is valid for babies born this year in Austria. As these people won’t show up as living in Austria for 183 days as of July 3rd, they should get their payment (the total amount, referring to 2022) only in early 2023.

(© The Local)

You are one of the last people to get it

There is another reason why you might not have gotten your payment: you’re just last in line for this first payment. The transfers are made daily but capped to a – technical – limit and are made randomly.

According to the Linz IT company Programmierfabrik, which programmed the database behind the system, the payments are ongoing. Managing director Wilfried Seyruck said: “We have been making 300,000 transfers every day since September 5th.

“Therefore, it will take us 25 days until all 7.4 million claimants have received the transfer. We should be finished by the end of the first week of October.”

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What is the ‘Vollmacht Klimabonus 2022’ letter everyone in Austria is receiving?

So, if you are getting your payment through a wire transfer to your bank account, it might take a bit longer. However, it might take even longer if you don’t have your updated information with Austria’s FinanzOnline authorities.

As the government stated when they announced the bonus, those who don’t have their bank accounts up to date will receive a voucher instead. There are about 1.2 million people in Austria in that situation.

In these cases, it can take until the end of October to arrive by secure mail – and then people will have to trade the voucher for cash.

You got unlucky

We can’t rule out that there might have been an error in your case. You can check your bank information on FinanzOnline to see if the data is up to date and correct.

If you haven’t gotten your transfer or a voucher by the end of October – and there has been no announcement of delays by the government -you can reach the Klimabonus service team on the phone.

The service is available in German, from Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm on 0800 8000 80.

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