Home » Expat Focus Financial Update December 2023

Expat Focus Financial Update December 2023

Banking for UK Expats

We have reported extensively on the closure of UK expat bank accounts post-Brexit and the situation is still ongoing. If you have been affected by your bank’s decision but still require a UK bank account, what options are available to you? A report by ‘Which’ in November 2023 unveiled several choices.

HSBC continues to offer standard current accounts to expats, and you can also bank with Lloyds through online or phone banking. However, it’s worth noting that we have spoken to Expat Focus readers who have encountered some difficulties with Lloyds International in the past. First Direct maintains regular services for existing customers but requires new clients to have a UK address.

Spanish-based bank Santander will allow you to keep your account if you already have one with them. However, they do not permit significant changes to the account, such as increasing your overdraft. Like Lloyds, new customers should opt for Santander International. Nationwide does not accept new sign-ups, but existing customers can retain their accounts. Nevertheless, there are exceptions within the EU, specifically the Netherlands and Italy, where you cannot maintain accounts with Nationwide or Virgin. Nationwide explicitly states that, as a consequence of Brexit, they can no longer serve customers in these two EU nations. If you are based in Italy, it’s worth considering HSBC, as they have offices in Milan.

Of course, you can open an account with a local bank, but as we have previously mentioned in this newsletter, many expats require a UK account and address to receive income, such as rent and pensions.

Financial Advice Against Relinquishing US Citizenship

Tax issues affecting US nationals living abroad have prompted many American expats, particularly those deeply committed to their new homes, to contemplate renouncing their US citizenship. While this may seemingly absolve you from further dealings with the IRS, financial experts are advising caution against taking such a step. Firms like Chase Buchanan Wealth Management have conveyed to the press that, in practice, Americans abroad are “rarely” subject to double taxation. Moreover, the permanent nature of the decision to relinquish citizenship, coupled with the bureaucratic hurdles involved, often does not align with actual tax scenarios.

They suggest, however, that you look carefully into your tax situation prior to relocating. Although US taxation for expats can be complex, several countries have taxation agreements with the United States or normalization agreements to address issues like retirement income. For instance, countries such as Portugal tax retirement income, meaning you pay taxes to Portuguese authorities rather than those in the USA, and these payments can be used to offset your tax liability to the IRS. Financial experts caution that the challenge lies in the expenses associated with dual filing and the intricacies of reporting your tax situation, especially if you have investments in various funds.


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Alex Ingrim, at Chase Buchanan, told the press that the US financial system: “really is a huge benefit to have [access to], where you can invest, trade and hold your money for almost nothing,” whereas many EU banks charge high fees. He advises expats to look closely at the fiscal advantages of retaining citizenship and think twice before renouncing it if you’re an American abroad. 

France: More Options for Brits

In November, the French senate threw a lifeline to British expats resident in France, giving them the option for a long stay visa which would mean that they are no longer subject to the 90-day rule. Those who voted for this change told the press that the legislation would help those British second homeowners who had been ‘punished’ by Brexit. Around 60,000 Brits have homes in France, a figure that is relatively small compared to Spain, where 1 million British expats currently reside.

Brits in Spain hold out hope that the Spanish government may follow suit, and there have been hints of this, but some feel that Brussels has too tight a legislative grip on Spain’s authorities. They report that property sales to Brits have taken a hit since Brexit and the introduction of the 90-day rule. In the meantime, it’s good news for British expats in France this winter. 

Portugal: PM’s Sudden Resignation Halts Expat Tax Plans

In Portugal the reform of expat tax legislation has been put on hold due to the Prime Minister, António Costa, stepping down over corruption charges. His shock resignation, following police raids, has – the Financial Times reports this month – put Portugal’s economy into ‘disarray.’ Tax breaks for affluent expats were on the cards up until this point, including a 10% flat tax on overseas pensions. A spokesman for Lisbon law firm Abreu Advogados told the press that there would be problems due to the cost-of-living crisis:


“If you have all these people continuing to suffer with inflation, not having any tax relief or any salary increases for at least another four, five or six months . . . ”

It is possible that the Portuguese government might still be able to push through the budget containing the new tax proposals. If President Marcelo Nuno Duarte Rebelo de Sousa choses to delay accepting the PM’s resignation and the dissolution of Parliament – but this remains to be seen. 


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In this short video, we dive into the significant health care updates and changes happening globally in 2024. From Germany's insurance cost adjustments to Cyprus's renewed COVID-19 precautions, we cover the essential news you need to know.

Germany's Health Insurance Update:

Starting in 2024, residents in Germany will see a slight increase in their health insurance costs, with a 0.1% rise to a maximum of 1.7%. This adjustment aims to expand coverage for medical care not currently included in statutory health insurance, such as select dental treatments, IVF, and early cancer screenings.

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With over 3000 new COVID-19 cases, Cyprus is stepping up its game by reintroducing health measures. Requirements now include proof of a negative COVID-19 test for entry into various facilities, emphasizing the importance of vaccination, especially for the elderly, to combat the evolving virus strains.

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Trieste launches an initiative for free health screenings, including echocardiograms and blood tests, focusing on preventive care against non-communicable diseases. This move underscores the city's commitment to improving public health through early detection and prevention.

Spain's New Health Advice App:

Madrid introduces a groundbreaking app offering reliable health advice to counteract the widespread misinformation online. This app, part of the 'Madrid Te Cuida' initiative, will guide users to accurate information, from diet tips to medical queries, ensuring the advice is vetted by health professionals.

Expat Satisfaction with Healthcare in Mexico:

A study reveals that expat retirees in Mexico are largely content with the healthcare quality and costs, with many citing significant savings compared to the United States without compromising on care quality. This insight sheds light on the growing trend of healthcare tourism and relocation for medical reasons.

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YouTube Video UCB21b-C4O2aXm7H18_GsXMQ_nC_Fs6gU22U

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