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French resident turned down for a UK deposit account

I have a cheque account with a UK bank and rang to ask if I could open a deposit account and was told I could not as I live in France. I thought we had the right to open accounts from abroad?  J.D.

The right to open a bank account from abroad comes from an EU directive but only applies to so-called basic bank accounts.

It is not known if this will continue with the UK after Brexit.

These accounts are available from a number of well-known British banks and are “no-frills” accounts, meaning they do not have a chequebook or  credit card (some have debit cards) and no loan or mortgage facilities attached.

They do not pay interest. You may open one of these only if you have no other British bank account.

Apart from this exception, banks have no obligation to allow people to open an account if they are not UK-resident and it is typically not possible to open a savings account.

Certain banks, such as Barclays and HSBC, have dedicated international sections that allow people living abroad to open accounts. Barclays states that this includes savings options, though they generally have restrictions such as having to place and maintain a large balance on the accounts.

In the case of Barclays, this is £25,000, and if the balance falls below this for four months or more, there is a £20 monthly fee. An advisor at HSBC said they only open new international accounts in the UK for French residents who hold an HSBC account in France.


Reader's query answered by Hugh MacDonald

The Connexion welcomes queries and regularly publishes a selection with answers. However, please note that we cannot enter into individual correspondence on money topics. Queries may be edited for length and style. Due to the sensitive nature of topics we do not publish full names or addresses on these pages. Send your financial query to

The information here is of a general nature. You should not act or refrain from acting on it without taking professional advice on the specific facts of your case. No liability is accepted in respect of these articles. These articles are intended only as a general guide. Nothing herein constitutes actual financial advice

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