Moving to France and starting a new life will mean that you need to open a French bank account at some point in order to receive payment either from your salary, pension or from your holdings in the UK and abroad.
While you can manage all transactions from your international payments account, there are many areas of French life that require a French bank account, including contracts with many mobile phone companies and access to the Velib public bike share system. If you’re renting, many landlords will also require proof of a French bank account.
Fortunately, the process is relatively simple and offers a number of choices for you to open a French bank account perfectly suited to your needs.
Can a UK citizen open a bank account in France?
If you are resident in France, opening a French bank account is a relatively straightforward process.
With so much to organise relating to your move to France, it’s worth remembering that French banks aren’t open on weekends or in the afternoon. When you’re sorting out all the red tape, make sure that anything relating to your French bank account is at the top of your to-do list and be aware that if you wait until the afternoon, there will be another day’s delay.
What do I need to open a bank account in France?
The documents and identification that you need to open a bank account in France may differ depending on the bank you visit, however in addition to a residence permit, the following items are typically required for an account to be opened:
- Pièce d'identité, or proof of identity – a passport, national ID or residence permit is acceptable but a UK driver’s license will not be accepted
- Justificatif de domicile or proof of address in France – this could be a lease or tenancy agreement or a utility bill
Once you have opened your account, it can take up to two weeks to receive your bank card and chequebook.
Can you open a French bank account from overseas?
Opening a bank account from abroad is possible with most French banks, helping to speed up the process and get your account started before you arrive. This is a particularly convenient process if your bank has a corresponding banking relationship with one in France.
However, you may find that you can open a more appropriate account for yourself and one with alternative incentives if you wait until after arriving in France and are able to shop around before opening your account.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that certain procedures, including replacements cards and large withdrawals must be carried out in person, by your personal banker. This means that as well as balancing the various deals, requirements and service levels available from each bank, it’s worth taking the convenience of the location into account when you’re choosing your bank.
Which French banks can I open an account with?
There are a large number of banks you could open an account with in France, including:
- BNP Paribas
- Société Générale
- Caisse d’Épargne
- Banque Populaire
- Crédit Agricole
- Crédit Mutuel
- La Banque Postale
It is worth checking the exact requirements for each bank as the paperwork requirements can vary from provider to provider. Bear in mind that most banks in France will charge a small monthly handling fee (“tenue de compte”), so double check the benefits of the different providers to make sure you are getting value for money depending on your requirements.
Can I open a student bank account in France?
Students from all over the world move to France to study and there are a range of student bank accounts on offer. As well as the standard paperwork requirements, you will be asked to provide your carte étudiante, a student ID card or a certificate of registration from the University. In addition, you’ll need to provide evidence of your Tax Identification Number (TIN), which will be available from the French consulate.
Just as in the UK, French student bank accounts come with varied benefits, from reduced fees and interest-free overdrafts to offers from partner organisations and student associations such as the BDE (Bureau des Elèves), the AS (Association Sportive), and the BdA (Bureau des Arts).
How can I transfer money from the UK to France?
All banks within France will allow you to send and receive money from the UK. However, you may incur significant transfer fees – particularly if you’re making frequent transfers – and a less favourable exchange rate to convert your money when you make a payment to France. Making regular payments to and from your home country may then incur large amounts in fees and see you miss out on a better exchange rate for your transfers.
With a moneycorp account for your foreign currency exchange, you can enjoy a competitive exchange rate and low fees when you send money to and from France. This way you can get more for your money when you send money back home and when you transfer funds over to France.