Know Your Customer bank account regulations unclear for expatriates

British expatriates remain in the dark when it comes to the banking regulations that impact their savings in the UK and the inconsistent application of the rules of the Know Your Customer (KYC) anti-money laundering regulations appear to be causing ongoing confusion according to newspaper reports issued last week.

According to expat financial advisors, Expat Money Channel, British expatriates abroad continue to receive conflicting information about their rights to a UK bank account. Although many British expatriates have plans to return to the United Kingdom after their contracts abroad have been completed, many of them are being denied the right to continue to hold a UK bank account while they reside abroad. Regulations dictated by the Know Your Customer anti-laundering measures mean that expatriates are not allowed to own onshore accounts if they do not have solid proof of a UK address. However, although many banks appear to be applying this rule, many others are choosing to ignore it, operating under the principle that while banks are technically not allowed to provide accounts to people who do not have a permanent UK address, they are not legally prevented from offering their services to British citizens abroad either. The right of UK citizens to hold onshore bank accounts therefore remains uncertain and there is more confusion than ever amongst this population:

“There are British expatriates who wish to sever links entirely with the UK for tax purposes, but these are in the minority. Many people retiring overseas or working expatriates on fixed term contracts have plans to return to the UK and don’t want to give up their longstanding banking relationship, and neither should they. This is particularly dangerous in the current economic environment when retaining a good banking relationship is a necessity,” comments Expat Money Channel’s Hannah Beecham.

In order to clarify the issues, Expat Money Channel have launched an official campaign that is aimed at forcing the UK government to fully qualify the requirements of KYC as it is implemented in the UK and encouraging them to change the rules which govern British expat’s rights to an onshore bank account. Discussing their plans, Ms Beecham commented:

“It seems to me that the KYC regulations were drawn up without a thought given to expats.

“What we need is for the Government to clarify the situation, and perhaps make allowances for different ‘types’ of expats – those that are only going abroad for a short period, for example, as opposed to those that are emigrating permanently.”

How you can help

All British expatriates are being encouraged to visit the Expat Money Channel website and provide details of their own experiences with the banking regulations. Expatriates can also help by completing a questionnaire, which will be utilized to shape the strategy employed by the Expat Money Channel as they take action to encourage a change in policy.


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