How Brexit could affect you

As the UK prepares to leave the EU, you may be concerned about how Brexit will affect your financial products and services. Read our information to help with any questions you may have or decisions you may need to take. This information may be of interest to any consumer of financial products and services, but will be particularly relevant for individuals and small businesses.

Update: 20 December 2019

The government has indicated its commitment to the UK leaving the EU with a Withdrawal Agreement on 31 January 2020, followed by an implementation period during which it will negotiate the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Please keep this in mind when reading this page.

During the implementation period, EU law would continue to apply until 31 December 2020.

We will update our pages after 31 January 2020 to reflect the UK’s new status.

What we are doing

We are planning for a range of scenarios, whether the UK gets a deal or not.

If an implementation period goes ahead, you will not need to do anything unless your provider contacts you directly.

We don’t yet know what rules will be in place after an implementation period or how your financial products may be affected. We’re preparing for all possible outcomes to make sure that financial services function effectively.

If there is no deal and so no implementation period

If you are based in the UK

We have plans in place to make sure that UK financial services continue working even if there is no implementation period. The Government is making laws so that providers of financial services from the European Economic Area (EEA) can continue to provide services, and their customers are still protected when we leave.

In particular the Government has put in place a temporary permissions regime to allow EEA providers to operate in the UK for a period after the UK has left the EU while they get permanent FCA authorisation. They have also made legislation for a financial services contract regime enabling firms that do not enter the temporary permissions regime to wind down their UK business in an orderly fashion.

These steps should limit the impact of a no-deal scenario on financial products and services provided to UK-based customers. We expect your provider to tell you if your products are affected in any way. But there are things you can do now if you have concerns about how Brexit will affect the products that you have. For example, if you are concerned about disruption to your business or travel plans as a result of Brexit, you can check whether your insurance policies will cover you, and you should contact your provider if you are unclear.

Travelling in the EEA

If you are planning to travel from the UK to the EEA after Brexit, there are things you should consider now, as you may need to act before you travel. These include:

  • Green cards for motorists
    If you are taking your vehicle with you when you travel, you will need to obtain a green card if there is no deal and the UK is no longer part of the free circulation area. A green card proves you have the necessary motor insurance. This includes motorists travelling between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. You may be fined or required to buy additional insurance if you do not travel with a green card. Your motor insurance provider will provide you with a green card free of charge if you ask for one, although they can decide to reflect production and handling costs in a small increase to their administration fees. They should inform you if this is the case. Make sure you allow enough time; the Association of British Insurers recommends you contact your provider about a month before you travel to request one.
  • Travel insurance
    If you are planning on travelling to the EEA after the UK leaves the EU, check the terms of your travel insurance policy documents before you go to ensure you understand what you are covered for, including health care and any possible disruptions as a result of Brexit. If you are unclear or have any questions, contact your provider. When it comes to claims for travel disruption, as with all claims, providers must treat customers fairly and not unreasonably reject claims. We have been clear to providers that they should make sure they can address customer queries accurately, fairly, clearly and promptly.

We have made clear to providers that they should consider how customers’ travel insurance contracts may be affected if there is no implementation period, and contact their customers if they are affected.

Making payments in or to the EEA

You will continue to be able to make payments and cash withdrawals in the EEA. However, these may become more expensive and take longer if there is no implementation period. Direct debit payments to the EEA might be impacted because additional information may be required before a transaction can be accepted. We would expect firms to communicate about any changes that impact products that you have. 

More information on travel

The Government has published a guide to driving in the EU after Brexit.

Read the Association of British Insurers’ advice to customers on no-deal Brexit.

If you live in the EEA (including if you are a UK expat)

EEA citizens, and UK citizens living in the EEA, could be affected if their UK provider cannot operate in the EEA after Brexit, although many UK providers are planning to continue providing you services.

Whether UK financial services providers are able to continue to service customers in the EEA will depend on the activity the firm is carrying on, the local law and the approach of the local authorities in that jurisdiction.

Some European authorities are taking steps to allow UK firms to continue to service EEA-based consumers after exit, although there is no single approach across the EU and the position depends on the steps that each country decides to take. 

There are also steps that firms can take themselves to ensure they can continue to do business with you, such as transferring business to an EEA part of their group of companies. 

We expect firms to contact you if you are affected or need to make any changes. If you have any concerns about whether you might be affected you may wish to contact your financial product providers.

Read more about how Brexit could affect your different financial products if you live in the EEA.

How Brexit may affect your financial protections

If an implementation period goes ahead, access to the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) will remain the same. The Financial Ombudsman Service helps settle disputes between customers and firms. The FSCS is designed to protect customers if a firm becomes insolvent.

The FCA is responsible for FSCS rules relating to protected investment business, insurance distribution, mortgage intermediation and debt management. The information below relates to those schemes. The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) is responsible for FSCS rules relating to insurance policy and deposit taking activities. The PRA has published information about FSCS deposit and insurance policy protection.

If there is no implementation period, the Ombudsman Service and the FSCS will continue to cover customers of UK providers operating in the UK.

The Financial Ombudsman Service will also be able to consider complaints about services carried out in the UK (or provided into the UK) by EEA firms which enter the temporary permissions regime, to the same extent as complaints by customers of UK firms.

Under FCA compensation rules, customers of EEA firms with a branch in the UK in the temporary permission regime will have access to the FSCS to the same extent as customers of UK firms. Customers of EEA firms without a branch in the UK are not currently covered by the FSCS (except for specific limited exceptions such as the activities of certain incoming fund managers). This will remain the same after Brexit.

Staying safe from scams

During this period of uncertainty there is a greater risk of scams. Here are some tips to protect yourself from being scammed:

  • beware of all unexpected calls, emails and text messages
  • a genuine bank or organisation will not ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account
  • never give out your personal or financial details unless it’s for a service you want to use, and where you trust the provider
  • don’t be pressured into acting quickly – a genuine bank or financial services firm won’t mind giving you time to think
  • always double-check the web link and company contact details in case it’s a ‘clone firm’ pretending to be a real firm
  • if you get an email, expand the pane at the top of the message and see exactly who it has come from – if it’s a scam, the email address of the sender may be filled with random numbers or be misspelled
  • beware that fraudsters can ‘clone’ these email addresses to make their emails seem genuine

Your provider may want to inform you of changes to your financial product or service in the lead up to exit day.

If you have any doubts at all about what you are being asked to do, check with your provider. Always use contact details you can trust, for example the phone number on your bank statement or policy documentation. You can check if a financial services firm is FCA authorised by checking the Register for all authorised companies. Visit our ScamSmart pages for advice about staying safe when talking about your finances.

Further information

The Government has published a range of a guidance and notices for Brexit on a wide range of topics, including financial services.

If you are concerned about how a no-deal Brexit could affect your private pension, State Pension or annuity, The Pensions Advisory Service (part of the government-backed Single Financial Guidance Body) have developed a series of frequently asked questions both for residents of the UK and EU. If you have any pension-related questions, the Pensions Advisory Service provide a free helpline 0800 011 3797 and webchat service on their website.

The FSCS has published Brexit frequently asked questions which may help you understand how your FSCS protections might be affected if there is no deal. If you would like more information about FSCS protection for your financial services product, please contact your firm directly. To speak to the FSCS directly, you can contact the FSCS on their website or call 0800 678 1100.