Opening a French Bank Account

Understand what is required to open a bank account in France...

A foreigner who is (or is going to be) resident in France for more than three months may open a French bank account (compte bancaire). A foreigner who is not (nor is planning to be) resident in France may open a non-resident's account (compte non-résident).

The compte non-résident

Not all banks have provision for a non-resident's account, and others impose restrictions on who may open an account, based on their place of residence (it is generally easier for EU-residents than those in non-EU countries) the minimum opening balance and other factors. Some banks have facilities for an account to be opened from outside France.

Documents required to open an account may vary but generally include proof of residential address (a recent utility bill) and proof of identity.

A French resident's bank account

A foreigner moving to France may open a bank account. Most banks have a variety of account types, with day-to-day banking usually being handled through a current account (compte à vue, also called a compte de dépôt à vue or a compte chèque).

These documents are needed to open an account:

  • EU citizens: Proof of identity (a valid passport or ID card)
  • Non-EU citizens: Proof of residence (Carte de séjour)
  • Proof of a French address: a utility bill, rental agreement or property deeds
  • Proof of earnings or status: Contract of employment/proof of earnings/proof of status (example: a student card)
  • Reference: from other banks where accounts are held (usually only required for loans and overdrafts)
  • In some cases, a birth certificate

Opening an account can be done in a day and methods of making payments (cash cards and cheque books) will usually arrive within a week to ten days of the account being opened.

Accounts may be held in joint names.

  • Note that an account held by two parties will have the words "et" or "ou" between the names. In the case of an account held in the names M et Mme Xyz, both account holders must sign a cheque, while in the case of an account in the name M ou Mme Xyz, either account holder may sign.

French banks will charge for certain items, for example in some a fee is payable to have an account, there's a fee to have a card (and second card), there may be a charge for the Internet banking facility and for transactions in certain banks.