How to Open a French Bank Account

Whether you are a resident or non resident, opening a French bank account is not a complicated process. Having a bank account is important for anyone who earns a living or even has money that has to be kept safely away in a bank.

If you are working in France it only makes sense for you to open up an account where you can manage your money. In France most of the bills are paid via banks by direct deposits; most landlords will want to be paid via the direct deposit system other than other means such as cash, cheques among others.

In France, most service providers prefer to be able to debit a French bank account. This is also applicable when paying for utilities that is why it is an advantage for you to have a French bank account when living in France. The following guide will show you how to open up a French bank account.

1. Choose the bank

There are many banks in France just like any other country. If you are familiar with the big banking brands such as Barclay’s Bank find out if there is a branch in France and open up an account with them.

It will be much easier for you to deal with a bank that you are familiar with back home than try out a new bank that you may not be able to fully understand its services especially if you don’t speak or read french.

If your preferred banking brand is not available in France, then you need to do some research and find out which is the biggest bank in France and what kind of services they offer and open up an account with them if you are satisfied with their services. Banks such as BNP Paribas among others that are some of the largest banking institution in France.

2. Documents that you will need to open up a French bank account

After you have chosen the bank that you want to open an account in, you need to take a proof of identity such as your passport and also a proof of address in France. If you are a non European Union resident, then you have to show your resident permit which is also known as titre. Take your driving license, your rental property contract and any other identification documents that you have.

3. Find out  about the procedure of opening up an account

The next step for you to take is to go to the bank and find out more about the requirements needed for one to open up a French bank account. Most banks are open by 08:30 AM however most banks open up at 09:00 AM. The banks close as late as 17:00 PM while some are open on Saturdays in case you fail to make it to the bank during the week.

4. Find out the right type of account for you

You have to select a type of bank account that is suitable for you, for example it does not make sense to have a fixed deposit account if you are not living in France permanently but you are there as an expatriate.

A straight account or compte courante is the best type of account to open while living in France. The compte courante account is a non resident account which would be perfect for you as a foreigner.

Having a current account in France will not earn you any interest on your account balance, but this is the best account to use for small transactions. A savings account is good if you have larger sums of money, this is the best account to have.

The savings account in France is also known as compte d’e’pargne is great for individuals who have large amounts of money while living in France.

Some banks in France permit you to link the your current and savings account in case the balance in current account decreases. If you wish you link both your accounts you will have to make a request for this to be done.

5. What are the bank charges?

It is important to find out more about the bank charges before you settle for which bank to open up an account. The bank charges vary from bank to bank and you will often be charged for services that probably you get free in your home country.

Things such as having an overdraft on a debit card may attract heavy charges in France whereas perhaps in your home country you only have to pay single annual charge. Be careful about falling into quirk banks stick to the well known big banking institutions to avoid any fraud.

6. Find out the laws related to banking in France

For example, in France it is a criminal offense to issue a cheque if you don’t have money on your account. Whereas in your home country it may not be an offense in France you will get arrested for it.

Once you have successfully opened up an account, you can start using your French bank account to do all your financial transactions in France.