Opening a French Bank Account

French Banks and Opening Bank Accounts

Opening a French bank account will make your every day life in France much easier. It demonstrates to landlords that you have a degree of stability, it facilitates utility payments and makes everyday purchases much simpler and cheaper than using your overseas account!

Setting up the account is a relatively simple exercise but the type of account you open will depend on the situation you are in when you intend to open the account.

If you wish to open an account prior to finding an apartment, we recommend that you start by opening a non-resident type account (the bank may however subject you to high initial deposit for this type of account)

If you are already settled in France you may open a standard current account and savings account.

In order to do this we recommend that you obtain a reference letter from your bank (in French or English) in your current place of residence, stating:

The length of time you have held your account at that particular bank
Confirmation of your overseas address
Stating the 'good order' of your overseas bank account

To open a French bank account you will need:

1. Photocopy of ID (passport or Carte de Sejour)

2. Proof of French address (for residents - utility bill for example)

3. Some money!

Some international banks do offer bank account transfers and credit history transfers inter country.

Banking and Transactions in France
When you open your account you will receive two modes of payment - the 'carte bleue' is your card which can be used for direct payments, Internet payments, telephone payments, withdrawing cash and consulting your account at ATM or cashpoint machines.

Payments within France are authorised through your pin number (not a signature) which type into discrete machines used in almost every retail outlet and restaurant.

Please note - This is not a credit card!! it is a direct debit card, although you may opt to have debits accumulated and withdrawn on a specified date of each month. This should be arranged when you open your French account.

You will also receive a cheque book - you will of course need to be able to write french numbers in order to write a cheque, although you will find most shop owners VERY willing to help! Often cheques are only accepted with photo identification.