How to open a bank account in France: a few tips

Keeping your account in the UK while living in France is a possible but rather expensive solution, as banks very often charge for withdrawals and financial operations in a foreign country. This is why you should consider opening an account with a French bank, for holiday stays and especially for a permanent move to France. To do so will help you tremendously in day-to-day purchases but also for rents and if you’re thinking of getting a French mortgage.
The procedure of opening a bank account in France is fairly simple, and you will just need to bring the following papers with you:
– A proof of identity, such as a passport or a national ID card
– A proof of your address, such as water and electricity bills, or your housing contract
Once your account has been opened, you will be given a debit card usually called “carte bancaire” or “carte bleue” and a chequebook.
Your first French carte bleue will cost you about €30. In France, cards work with the chip and PIN method, and your PIN code will always be asked for payments and withdrawals. Also, it has to be noted that some shops require a minimum amount, usually around €8, for card payments. It does not work quite the same as in the UK: the sums of money spent can be deducted from your account immediately or at the end of the month, depending on what you have decided with your bank. A signature will always be required for payments over €1,500. The “carte bleue” will be your best asset when living abroad, as you can use it to pay for almost everything. A huge majority of shops, restaurants, bars, cinemas, motorways, online shops etc accept card payment.
Cheque payments are widespread in France. However shop owners may ask you for a proof of identity. It will take a few days between the day you actually sign the cheque and when the amount is debited from your account. It is very important to note that in France, it is illegal to try to pay by using a cheque with an insufficient account balance. That is why some shops systematically refuse any cheque payment. If you do write a rubber cheque, you might face an “interdiction bancaire”, which prevents you from writing a cheque and using your credit card until the situation has been sorted out. This is why you should always make sure you can cover your cheques.
When opening a bank account, it is also important to choose which kind of account will suit you best.
A “compte courant”, French for current account, is a very active account which allows immediate cash withdrawal at anytime, and is used for common operations between the bank and its client.
A “compte sur livret” or “Livret A“ is the most used savings account in France. It is not used for day-to-day operations, but to yield interests.

Tags: , , ,

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 at 8:59 am and is filed under Currency Exchange, French Mortgages . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

    News search


    Recent Comments