Posted by: Andrew | March 16, 2010

Bank accounts for non-resident UK citizens

If you read my post yesterday, I was writing about a discussion over on Dad’s EconomicDisasterArea blog. We got a bit off topic and started discussing bank accounts for UK citizens who are not resident in the UK. Here is my own experience.

When I lived in Berlin, 1988-90, I opened an account there with the BHI ( now Dresdener Bank, I believe). I kept my UK accounts with Midland bank (now HSBC!) but changed the address to my German one. No problem.

When I moved to Canada, I had accounts with First Direct (HSBC) and again I changed the address to my Canadian one, no problem. Again, I have Canadian accounts too.

Britain and Canada do have a tax treaty, so you only pay tax once. Phew!

Life is not so simple if you are a US citizen, as you have to pay federal taxes to the US government regardless of where you live. Eek.


  1. Hi Andrew,

    I’m interested to know if you are aware of the implications of keeping a bank account in the UK?. Not to be morbid but when you pass away the UK government may decide that you are still Domicile in the UK. The UK Revenue have this rather bizarre rule whereby you can be non-resident for tax purposes but unless it can be shown that you have truly severed your links with the UK then they may well decide you are still UK Domicile. One of the many tests for whether you are still deemed UK Domicile is if you retain a UK bank account. It can be very hard to prove you have non-domicile status unless you take up foreign citizenship and even this may not be enough if they think you have retained links with the UK.

    This Domicile issue is critical as that is what is used to determine if you estate is liable for UK death duties upon your death. Many people get caught by this trap and their families suffer the consequences. I myself, live in Thailand and am not UK tax resident, have gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure my family do not get caught out.

    This situation is also extremely galling for those British expatriates who had money in Landsbanki Guernsey and have been refused help by the UK government. Because despite them being treated like unworthy British Citizens by the UK government, the latter will only be too happy to collect death duties when the time arrives.

  2. Thanks for that John. I am in the process of running down my finances in the UK!

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