For members


Post-Brexit bank changes for Brits in Sweden: Here’s what we know so far

As the end of the Brexit transition period looms, the UK has so far failed to negotiate access to the European passporting scheme for banks. What does this mean for you if you're a British citizen and live in Sweden?

Post-Brexit bank changes for Brits in Sweden: Here's what we know so far
The Canary Wharf financial district in London. Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP

What's happened?

Last week, it was reported that, with just three months to go until the Brexit transition period ends, the UK has so far not managed to negotiate a continuation of EU banking rules – known as passporting.

This means that all UK banks will need to apply for new banking licences to provide certain services in each of the 27 different EU countries.

Some banks have decided it is not worthwhile to their business to continue to provide these services, and have already began informing British customers abroad that their accounts will be closed.

Which banks are affected?

Brexit doesn't mean any blanket closure of accounts for all Brits overseas. It depends on who you bank with, where you live, and what kind of account you have. 

The Local has contacted 10 major British banks, and at the time of writing had received responses from four. Santander, Lloyds, and HSBC said there were no current plans to close the accounts of customers in Sweden. Nationwide said that no decision had yet been taken. 

Barclays did not respond to The Local's request for comment, however several readers of The Local Sweden said they had been contacted by Barclaycard and told their accounts would be closed in November unless they could provide a UK billing address.

Digital bank Revolut has an EU banking licence, but currently does not have a UK one, although it has reportedly applied for one and has approval to operate in the UK post-Brexit (but this affects exactly what services are available).

If you have been contacted by your British bank, please let us know by emailing [email protected] or filling out our questionnaire.

Which types of accounts are affected?

Again, this will depend from bank to bank, because it's a question of which services the bank deems worth paying to continue.

It may be the case that only certain products become unavailable, such as credit cards or business accounts. Straightforward current/checking accounts are less likely to be closed. 

Can I provide a 'care of' British address to keep my account?

Many British people living overseas use a 'care of' address in the UK, for example the address of a relative or friend.

It is not entirely clear if this would be sufficient to prevent affected accounts from being closed.

One British reader said she had been told by Barclays that she needed to provide a UK address by November 16th to keep using her MasterCard, but she was told that providing the addresss of a relative would be sufficient.

Another reader said they were told they would have to close their Barclaycard account despite having a 'care of' contact address in the UK, because they did not have a UK billing address or residential address.

Barclaycard is separate to Barclays bank. The Local has contacted the company for further details about which customers are affected, but it has not commented on the record so far.

What have the banks said?

Here is what the banks who have responded to The Local have told us. We will update this page with any further comments we receive.

  • Santander

    A press spokesperson told The Local: “We have no current plans to close any of our retail or corporate accounts.”

  • Lloyds

    A press spokesperson told The Local: “We have written to a small number of customers living in affected EU countries to let them know that due to the UK's exit from the EU, regrettably we will no longer be able to provide them with some UK-based banking services. We want to keep customers informed and offer advice on next steps.”

    Customers in Sweden are not among those who have been contacted.

  • Nationwide

    No decision has yet been taken. A spokesperson said: “Because the outcome of Brexit is not yet clear and the position continues to evolve, there is currently no certainty as to any actions we will be required to take. Regrettably we cannot provide any further detail on the impact on specific products and transactions at this point. However, we will communicate with members as soon as possible about any necessary changes that impact them.”

  • HSBC

    A spokesperson told The Local: “HSBC UK customers who reside in the EU will continue to have access to the banking and/or wealth management products and services that we currently provide to them. We are monitoring the situation closely, and will keep our customers informed in the event of changes that may impact how we are able to support them.”

    They directed customers to their Brexit Q&A for retail customers.

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For members


How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

Non-EU citizens living in the European Union are eligible for a special residence status that allows them to move to another country in the bloc. Getting the permit is not simple but may get easier, explains Claudia Delpero.

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

The European Commission proposed this week to simplify residence rules for non-EU nationals who live on a long-term basis in the European Union.

The intention is to ease procedures in three areas: acquiring EU long-term residence status, moving to other EU countries and improving the rights of family members. 

But the new measures will have to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council, which is made of national ministers. Will EU governments support them?

What is EU long-term residence?

Non-EU citizens who live in EU countries on a long-term basis are eligible for long-term residence status, nationally and at the EU level. 

This EU status can be acquired if the person has lived ‘legally’ in an EU country for at least five years, has not been away for more than 6 consecutive months and 10 months over the entire period, and can prove to have “stable and regular economic resources” and health insurance. Applicants can also be required to meet “integration conditions”, such as passing a test on the national language or culture knowledge. 

The EU long-term residence permit is valid for at least five years and is automatically renewable. But the status can be lost if the holder leaves the EU for more than one year (the EU Court of Justice recently clarified that being physically in the EU for a few days in a 12-month period is enough to maintain the status).

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: How many non-EU citizens live in European Union countries?

Long-term residence status grants equal treatment to EU nationals in areas such as employment and self-employment or education. In addition, EU long-term residence grants the possibility to move to other EU countries under certain conditions. 

What does the European Commission want to change?

The European Commission has proposed to make it easier to acquire EU long-term residence status and to strengthen the rights associated with it. 

Under new measures, non-EU citizens should be able to cumulate residence periods in different EU countries to reach the 5-year requirement, instead of resetting the clock at each move. 

This, however, will not apply to individuals who used a ‘residence by investment’ scheme to gain rights in the EU, as the Commission wants to “limit the attractiveness” of these routes and not all EU states offer such schemes. 

All periods of legal residence should be fully counted towards the 5 years, including those spent as students, beneficiaries of temporary protection or on temporary grounds. Stays under a short-term visa do not count.

Children who are born or adopted in the EU country having issued the EU long-term residence permit to their parents should acquire EU long-term resident status in that country automatically, without residence requirement, the Commission added.

READ ALSO: Why it may get easier for non-EU citizens to move to another European Union country

EU countries should also avoid imposing a minimum income level for the resources condition but consider the applicant’s individual circumstances, the Commission suggests.

Integration tests should not be too burdensome or expensive, nor should they be requested for long-term residents’ family reunifications. 

The Commission also proposed to extend from 12 to 24 months the possibility to leave the EU without losing status, with facilitated procedures (no integration test) for the re-acquisition of status after longer absences.

A person who has already acquired EU long-term residence status in one EU country should only need three years to acquire the same status in another EU member state. But the second country could decide whether to wait the completion of the five years before granting social benefits. 

The proposal also clarifies that EU long-term residents should have the same right as EU nationals with regard to the acquisition of private housing and the export of pensions, when moving to a third country. 

Why make these changes?

Although EU long-term residence exists since 2006, few people have benefited. “The long-term residents directive is under-used by the member states and does not provide for an effective right to mobility within the EU,” the Commission says. 

Around 3.1 million third-country nationals held long-term residence permits for the EU in 2017, compared to 7.1 million holding a national one. “we would like to make the EU long-term residence permit more attractive,” said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

The problems are the conditions to acquire the status, too difficult to meet, the barriers faced when moving in the EU, the lack of consistency in the rights of long-term residents and their family members and the lack of information about the scheme.

Most EU member states continue to issue “almost exclusively” national permits unless the applicant explicitly asks for the EU one, an evaluation of the directive has shown.

READ ALSO: Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

This proposal is part of a package to “improve the EU’s overall attractiveness to foreign talent”, address skill shortages and facilitate integration in the EU labour market of people fleeing Ukraine. 

On 1 January 2021, 23.7 million non-EU nationals were residing in the EU, representing 5.3% of the total population. Between 2.25 to 3 million non-EU citizens move to the EU every year. More than 5 million people have left Ukraine for neighbouring states since the beginning of the war in February. 

Will these measures also apply to British citizens?

These measures also apply to British citizens, whether they moved to an EU country before or after Brexit. 

The European Commission has recently clarified that Britons living in the EU under the Withdrawal Agreement can apply for a long-term residence too.

As Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement have their residence rights secured only in the country where they lived before Brexit, the British in Europe coalition recommended those who need mobility rights to seek EU long-term residence status. 

These provisions do not apply in Denmark and Ireland, which opted out of the directive.

What happens next?

The Commission proposals will have to be discussed and agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council. This is made of national ministers, who decide by qualified majority. During the process, the proposals can be amended or even scrapped. 

In 2021, the European Parliament voted through a resolution saying that third-country nationals who are long-term residents in the EU should have the right to reside permanently in other EU countries, like EU citizens. The Parliament also called for the reduction of the residency requirement to acquire EU long-term residence from five to three years.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people?

EU governments will be harder to convince. However, presenting the package, Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said proposals are likely to be supported because “they fit in a broader framework”, which represents the “construction” of the “EU migration policy”. 

National governments are also likely to agree because large and small employers face skill shortages, “especially in areas that are key to our competitiveness, like agri-food, digital, tourism, healthcare… we need people,” Schinas said.

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.