How to Open a Bank Account in France [Complete Process]

Comment ouvrir un compte bancaire en France? The complete guide to open a bank French bank account online as residents, non residents, students.
open bank account in france online

Want to open a bank account in France online? Whether you are a resident, non resident, worker or student or even a traveler that often visit the country, you definitely gonna need a bank account to ensure your finances in the country.

France is a well-known European country that welcomes visitors worldwide and has one of the most visited areas in the world, Paris. The country counts numerous immigrants yearly as students, travelers, tourists, expats and whether you live or have plans of flying to the France, you definitely gonna need to open a bank account.

While you don't need one for everyday shopping, a French bank account is required if you plan to pay taxes and energy bills, receive an income, or purchase property in France.

That said, this guide will walk you through the banking system in France, types of banks for residents and non residents, and how you can easily open a French bank account online without hassle.

Banking System in France

France's banking sector is heavily developed, with 266 private and international banks, as well as over 300 public local banks and other credit organizations. The Banque de France is the country's central bank, while the Autorite de Controle Prudentiel et de Resolution controls the banking sector (ACPR).

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Why Do You Need a Bank Account in France

It is possible to reside in France without owning a French bank account because having one is not required by law. Managing your finances from a foreign account, on the other hand, will be difficult and possibly costly.

This is especially true in France when it comes to things like getting salary and paying electricity bills. Having a French bank account can also assist you in obtaining a French mortgage.

What to Consider Before Opening a French Bank Account

You can manage your funds and complete payments using an overseas account if you relocate before opening a bank account in France. The majority of companies in France accept Visa and Mastercard. Bank ATMs are free to use, but you should check with your home bank to see if there are any fees. If you want to create a bank account in France before you move, you can do so ahead of time.

Non-resident accounts (compte non-resident) are available from some French banks and can be used from anywhere in the world. Many global banks have branches in France, so transferring funds should be simple if your home bank has a French presence.

Furthermore, if you can verify that you will be a long-term resident in France and can give a French address, most French banks will assist you in opening an account before you move.

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Types of Bank Accounts in France

Local French banks offer three different types of bank accounts. Here's a basic rundown of each one.

  • Current account (compte courant): — This is most likely the account you're looking for.  A compte courant is a simple bank account that can be used on a daily basis. You can use a debit card to withdraw money from an ATM, pay bills, and make purchases. Many banks offer customized accounts with particular incentives, such as non-resident accounts and student accounts.
  • General savings account (Livret): — This is a savings account that also help to transfer money conveniently between your current account and your savings account. There is also the Livret A which is a tax-free savings account, and has more restrictions.
  • Long-term savings account (Compte à Terme or Compte d'Epargne Logement): —This type of account pays a greater rate of interest to people who are saving for a home or other significant purchase.

Most French banks allow you to open a joint account. If you register an account in two names (for example, for a couple), you can set it up as [nom] et [nom], in which case both account holders must sign off on payments such as checks, or [nom] ou [nom], in which case only one account holder must sign.

Make sure to keep a close eye out for banking fees when researching banks. Fees, such as a monthly service fee and a debit card fee, are frequent in French banks. There are also ATM fees, which vary depending on the bank. To assist, the French government provides a free application that allows you to compare fees at several banks.

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Offshore Bank Accounts in France for Non-Residents and Expats

Expats in France may find that the easiest method to handle their finances in the country is to open an international offshore bank account. This is especially useful for someone who works overseas, spends a lot of time in multiple countries, or transfers money often between them.

Offshore accounts are those that are held outside of the account holder's home country and typically provide specific benefits such as a greater range of cross-border services and lower taxation on funds. Many of France's top banks offer international offshore banking services.

Banks in France Offering Non-Residents Accounts

There are many banks in France but only a few of them let you open an offshore bank account as a non residents. Some of which are:

Banque Populaire

Part of the BPCE group, featuring current and savings account options that include worldwide expat services like quick cross-border transfers and account management from anywhere in the world. There are also online and mobile banking services, as well as smartphone payment possibilities.

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BNP Paribas

BNP Paribas is one of France's largest banks, it offers current and savings accounts, as well as online banking. For the 18-24 year old, there is also a young person's account with reductions on fees and services. BNP Paribas is a global bank, but some of its services are only available in certain countries, therefore you must be a resident of France to use some of its goods and services.

Credit Agricole

Customers can customize banking services and features to best fit their unique needs using this French cooperative banking network's compte a composer feature. Money management features, payment services, and digital banking alternatives are all included.

In addition, the bank offers an English-speaking Britline banking service, which is suitable for opening an account from afar.

Banking with an overseas bank situated in France is another way of opening a bank account with a French bank. Here are some international banks also located in France:

  • Axa Banque
  • Barclays
  • Citibank
  • Deutsche Bank
  • HSBC
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Best Online Banks in France for Residents, Non-Residents, Travelers and Students

What do You Need to Open a Bank Account in France

All French residents and French nationals living outside of France have the legal right to open a bank account in France. That doesn't mean it'll be simple—you'll have to clear a few hurdles first. You'll need identity, proof of address, and proof of residency status to get started.

What is the minimum age to open a bank account in France?

To open your own compte courant or savings account, you must be 18 years old or older. However, some banks provide minors with banking options. An accompanied letter from a parent or legal guardian will be necessary in that scenario.

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What Documents Do You need to Open a Bank Account in France

Identification (your passport), evidence of address (such as a rental contract and/or a utility bill), and proof of residency status (a visa or other titre de sejour) are the three types of paperwork necessary.

This may be a little complicated because you won't be able to pay your utility bills or sign a lease unless you have a French bank account. It's best to compile as much documents as possible and bring it all with you. It's best if you have as much proof as possible.

Some banks may additionally need proof of employment or enrollment as a student. If you aren't working or studying, it can be more difficult to open an account if you don't have a long-term residency permit.

If you are still looking for a home, the bank may want a letter of recommendation from your work or a cash guarantee before opening a bank account or credit card.

You may be required to provide a notarial translation or a certificated translation with an Apostille stamp if your documents are not in French. Within 7-14 days, you would receive your banking information (debit card, account number, checkbook).

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How to Open a Bank Account in France [Step by Step]

It's worth checking to see if your current bank has a branch in France before opening a new account there. If this is the case, transferring your existing account may be easier.

However, if you're starting afresh, the first step is to phone or come into a local location and schedule an appointment. Bring a translator or a French-speaking friend if you aren't ready to have the talk in French.

It's conceivable that your local bank branch will refer you to a foreigner-friendly branch. If that's the case, you'll need to call and schedule an appointment with them instead. Bring all of your documents to your appointment and be prepared to sign some paperwork.

You'll leave with a bank account number, also known as a RIB (relevé d'identité bancaire), if your appointment goes well. The moment your bank account is ready for you to make your first deposit, your bank will call or send you an email.

If the bank rejects your application, they must provide an explanation for their decision. In this instance, you can file a complaint with the Banque de France, which will assign you a bank.

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How to Open a French Bank Account Online

As we all know, today, most banks offer their services online and that is the case for banks in France. However, the mobile banking apps for banks in France may be limited only to French speaking. Opening a French bank account online may incur a modest fee from some banks.

Other packages may include free online banking, but any additional services will be charged at a premium (such as in-branch services). As a result, determining your requirements is crucial.

Non-residents can also open online French bank accounts from online banking institutions like N26, bunq, LeoPay, and Revolut. All you need to do is download the mobile banking app if you already have a bank account and wish to switch to mobile banking.

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How to Open a Bank Account in France as a Non-Resident (Foreigner)

Banks such as Banque Populaire, BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole let you easily open a bank account in France as a foreigner.

France counts huge numbers of immigrants yearly some of which are students, travelers, expats and they will definitely need a bank account.

Most banks offer student bank account for most students residing in the country. These accounts are somehow limited but are ideal for students since they won't be charged plenty of fees.

Non-residents can also use online banking institutions offering bank account in France such as bunq, N26, Revolut to get a bank account before they can move to the country. However, these online bank accounts will be accessible only on your mobile device but with debit cards issued from N26 and others, you can easily perform ATM withdrawals within the French territory.

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How to Open a Business Bank Account in France

Most French banks offer both personal and business banking solutions. However, opening a bank account in France for commercial purposes can be a time-consuming and paper-intensive process. Banks will want to make sure the company is authentic and operating legally.

It's easier if you just want to register a separate account for freelancing work in France or if you're starting a non-incorporated French firm (e.g., sole trader or general partnership). However, in addition to personal documents, you will almost certainly need to provide the following when establishing a limited company:

  • Articles of incorporation;
  • K-bis (a legal document certifying the company's registration with the French Commerce and Companies Register);
  • A minimum deposit is required (this varies between banks and type of business account).

Banks are not obligated to give business accounts, just as they are not obligated to offer personal accounts, and they may ask a lot of questions in advance. Firm planning, cash flow estimates, and the nature of the business are examples of topics that may be included.

The process can take many months and include a few meetings at which the company's directors must be present. Business banking fees are typically greater than personal banking fees, so find out what they are before opening an account.

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How to Open a Bank Account in France for Your Children

Many French banks provide children's bank accounts, with varying benefits. For school-aged youngsters, certain banks may offer a young person's account. Others may provide children's savings accounts that can be started as soon as they are born.

If you want to open an account on behalf of your child, each banking provider will have a distinct process and restrictions. Accounts opened by anyone under the age of 18 will almost always require a letter from a parent or legal guardian.

If you're opening an account for a child under the age of 18, you'll almost always need to submit identification for both yourself and your child. You'll also need to provide confirmation of residency.

The ideal way to open an account for your child is for both of you to go to the branch. If this isn't possible, banks may still be willing to open an account if you present the required papers. Some banks may even let you open an account online.

What to do if your Application to Open a Bank Account in France get Rejected

If the bank rejects your application after you have become a resident of France, you can request a note de refus (rejection letter), which is required by law. The bank, on the other hand, is not required to provide an explanation for their refusal.

If you have a good financial history, you can present the letter of refusal to the Banque de France (Bank of France) with your ID and evidence of address. You will be asked to fill out a droit au compte form by the bank.

The Bank of France will choose a bank that is required to accept you within a few days. You will be given a letter to present to the bank that has been assigned to you. More information on the droit au compte can be found here.

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Banking Services in France

Banks in France offer a comparable variety of financial services as compared to banks in other European countries. Banks typically offer the following services in addition to current and savings accounts, debit cards, and credit cards:

  • Insurance in France;
  • Borrowing options including loans, overdrafts, and French mortgages;
  • Investments ranging from pension plans to stock market trading;
  • International money transfers

Managing your Bank Account in France

  • Face-to-face banking — many French people still prefer to bank at their traditional branch, and there are still many of them on the high street. Payments and personal finance are available at the counter, however there aren't many English-speaking employees.
  • Online banking allows you to access your account at any time of day or night. Most modern banks have this as a key feature. Most services and products, including loans, are available online, and several banks even offer live online chat platforms for customer service.
  • Mobile banking — using mobile banking apps on a smartphone to do business is becoming more prevalent. For today's youthful clientele, this is the pinnacle of convenience banking. Mobile-only banks provide all of their services via an app and do not have any physical locations. At the touch of a screen, you can manage your funds, access services, and make a variety of payments.
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Changing Banks or Closing a Bank Account in France

Most current and basic savings accounts with French banks can be closed without charge. You must not have any outstanding overdrafts or obligations on the account in order to do so. Most categories of savings accounts and long-term savings accounts may require fees.

Following the implementation of a new law in 2017, your new bank will be responsible for moving your account to your new bank, free of charge, if you desire to switch banks in France. Customers sign a "banking mobility mandate," and the bank has 22 days to complete the account transfer from their previous bank.

When closing a your bank account in France, make sure you take into consideration the following aspects;

  • Obtain written proof from the bank that the account is no longer operational in order to avoid further costs;
  • There are no overdue payments from the account, such as rent, direct debits, or standing orders;
  • Notify your business and anyone else who has been paying into the account that it is no longer active.

Final Thoughts on Opening a Bank Account in France Online as Residents, Non-Residents or Foreigners

France is a great country with interesting to visit touristic sites. Paris is the most visited area in the country and because of that, the country welcomes a huge number of immigrants yearly.

Before moving to France, you will definitely need to open a bank account as a non resident to easily manage your finances once you are in the country. It is well practical and an easy process provided you have selected the ideal bank based on your needs.

Residents of France can easily open a bank account in France both online and at traditional bank branches.

However, the case might be a little different for non residents as only a few bank lets you open an offshore account in France.

Banks such as Banque Populaire, BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole let you easily open a bank account in France as a foreigner.

Additionally, you can open an online bank account in France both as a resident and non resident with online banks such as N26, Revolut, Bunq. These online banks can even make it easy for you to open a a business bank account in France.

Holding an account with these digital banks will let you perform SEPA transactions as the account they offer work in the entire SEPA Zone. Here is a full list of countries in the SEPA Zone.

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About the Author

Tebid Kelly is a Graphic Designer, Web Developer, Ethical Hacker, Programmer, and Content Creator who showcases his skills and experience on his blogs. He also has much love for finance apps such as Cash App, Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, etc on which he ha…

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