Brexit and Expats with UK Policies Update

Published / Last Updated on 23/02/2021

On 31st December 2020 the Brexit Transition Period between the UK and the EU ended and with effect from 1st January 2021 the newly signed Trade Agreement came into force.

The Problem

The trade agreement did not include the UK’s biggest export i.e. Financial Services.  There are ongoing negotiations with an agreement expected by 31st March 2021 for financial services.

This technically means, as of 1st January 2021, UK insurer and pension provider products that were previously authorised for distribution to EU residents are no longer permitted.


The French Regulator (ACPR) has, in our opinion, ‘jumped the gun’ and already written to UK Insurers and Pension Companies outlining what can and cannot happen as at today (without a Financial Services Trade Agreement) and has asked all UK Insurers and Pension providers with clients resident in France to write to them, explaining the current rules for France:

  1. French residents with UK policies are not allowed to amend the % payments into insurance or pension schemes even from employer and employee pension contributions although existing payments can continue.
  2. You are not allowed to transfer your UK policy to another UK policy unless the schemes rules already specifically allow this without any conversion or amendment of the contract.
    1. You can have an annuity with the existing pension company but you cannot shop around for a more competitive UK annuity.  You may be able to transfer to the EU to buy an annuity if they will allow (as well as HMRC also allowing a transfer to a qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme ROPS)
    2. You can have flexible drawdown if it was already available in the existing pension without any conversion required.
  3. You cannot convert an existing pension scheme to Flexible Drawdown unless the scheme rules already allow it.
  4. This does not affect existing schemes that have already been set up as an annuity or flexible drawdown, they can continue as normal if they were set up before 01/01/2021.

This really does leave French residents with UK pensions that have not already been set up for annuity or flexible drawdown ‘up a river without a paddle’.

Two UK pension companies have already written to us about the new French laws and more will no doubt follow.

In addition, many banks are already writing to account holders in the EU advising of account cancellation and closure.

The Rest of Europe

Specifically, Iceland, Germany and the Republic of Ireland have said that things can continue as they were until a Financial Trade Agreement is reached.  The rest of Europe such as the usual expat haunts of Greece, Italy and Spain have made no comment either way, so we assume, until told otherwise, that their stance will be the same as Germany, Ireland et al.


For EU and UK nationals resident in UK with EU based pensions and investments, the FCA has already issued a Temporary Permissions Regime to EU based companies allowing temporary continuity until firms either apply direct for UK authorisation or until a Financial Services Trade Agreement is reached (end of March we hope) to allow continuity with ‘Equivalency’ rules and regulations.

Watch this space for more expat news.  When we know, you will know.

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