Keeping or letting go of your home country bank account

Keeping or letting go of your home country bank account

Keeping or letting go of your home country bank account

Should British expatriates lose or keep their UK bank accounts?

Deciding whether to keep your British bank account open depends on two things – your circumstances and whether your UK bank will allow you to! The majority of Britons living, working or retiring overseas would prefer not to close their British bank accounts, for reasons including sending money back home, keeping on certain direct debits or being able to use its debit or credit cards in locations where local bank cards aren’t accepted. There’s one problem with the reasonable assumption of leaving the account open – your bank may not let you.

Their response will depend on which bank you’re using, how long you’ve had the account, what type of account you have and whether you still own property in the UK. Should your UK bank start making closure noises, it’s best to fight them as it can be seriously tricky to open a British bank account when you finally return home. Keeping it open is necessary if you’re in receipt of a UK-based private pension, if you’re on a fixed, relatively short-term contract overseas, if you’re only moving overseas to be able to spend less of your increased salary and send the rest back home or if you’d prefer to keep your credit facilities open.

Obviously, if you’ve kept a good relationship with your local bank as well as your credit card providers it’ll be easier to keep your accounts open, but you should make sure you’re aware of extra charges, exchange rates and one-off fees you’ll be charged for currency conversion when you send money home. Also, if you’re intended to use your credit and debit cards overseas, checking regulations, fees and rates is essential, as it is if you’re planning to make transfers.

Opening a local bank account in your destination city is equally important, as you’ll need to set up direct debits to pay for services such as power, water and internet connection. Paying rents or regular mortgage amounts by direct debit is the best way forward, and you may find certain providers require local bank payments. If you’re not sure you can cope with a bank whose employees aren’t exactly fluent in the English language, an international offshore bank is your best bet, better still if it’s the offshore branch of your home country bank.

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