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AMBASSADOR

British Ambassador’s parting message to Brits in Spain: ‘Get registered’

Simon Manley, the British Ambassador to Madrid has come to the end of his post after almost six years.

British Ambassador's parting message to Brits in Spain: 'Get registered'
HMA Simon Manley Photo: British Embassy Madrid

As he prepares to return to London, the diplomat paid tribute to the work of so many volunteers serving British communities in Spain, as well as those who work here, singling out the huge contribution made by British teachers working in schools in Spain.

“I leave my almost six years as HMA to Spain with a wealth of wonderful memories of this fantastic country. I understand why so many UK Nationals choose to live and visit here,” he said in a special farewell message issued on Wednesday.

“One of the tremendous privileges of this job has been to meet many of you, the British Nationals involved in your communities in so many different ways. Those of you volunteering with organisations like Cruz Roja, Age Concern and so many more; helping fight forest fires in Javea or looking after British cemeteries; those raising funds to help those in need; young people volunteering with organisations like Street Angels in Mallorca, helping to look after British visitors to the island or British councillors serving their local communities.”

“The footprint of British education relies on UK Nationals living and working here, as teachers and assistants in the many British schools and language academies. UK Nationals are also working in businesses across Spain – from bars and restaurants on the costas to the Big Five accountancy firms,” he said in a video message.

“It has been an honour to represent Queen and country and to serve you, the UK nationals living here.”

But his biggest and most important message was urging Brits in Spain to make sure of one thing ahead of Brexit.

 “If I have one final message as we leave the EU, it is to make sure you, your friends and family are properly registered as residents. And check on your neighbours – make sure they are registered too,” he said before adding: “I wish you all continued health and happiness in your lives here in Spain.”

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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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