How to Open a Bank Account in France: A Guide for Non-Residents

Planning to move to France? Or perhaps you’ve already relocated? Either way, it’s pretty likely that you’ll want to open a French bank account. Not only is having one convenient for day to day life, but it can be obligatory for paying your rent, receiving salary, and other important transactions.

Here at Remitly, we know it’s easy to feel swamped with information when you start grappling with financial matters abroad. That’s why we’ve broken things down for you in this guide for international students, foreign workers, and anyone else who’s entering a new phase of their life in France.

Documents Needed to Open a Bank Account in France

It probably won’t come as a surprise to know you’ll need some personal documents in order to set up your new bank account in France. Depending on the policy of the bank, you may be expected to have the documents translated into French by an official translator, and verified with an apostille stamp.

Among the documents generally required by banks are:

  • Proof of your identity (for example, your passport)
  • Proof of your address (for example, a French utility bill)
  • Proof of your status as an employee or student (for example, your student ID)
  • Proof of earnings (for example, your employment contract)
  • A residence permit

Choosing a Bank in France

You have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to banks in France. We’d definitely recommend taking a bit of time to do your homework. While it may not be especially thrilling, this kind of research can really make a difference when it comes to getting an account that’s absolutely right for you. Check out the various banks’ websites and weigh up what the top contenders offer before going ahead with the application process. Some factors you’ll want to bear in mind include:

  • Conditions on the account – such as a minimum initial deposit, and spending/withdrawal caps on your debit card
  • Charges – are there handling fees for your account, and annual charges for debit cards and other services?
  • Services – does the account provide you with any other advantages, such as access to loans, overdrafts, mortgages and pension plans?
  • Special accounts for different demographics – if you’re a younger customer, you should check if there’s account that offers preferential rates for, say, 18-24 year olds

Popular Banks in France

There are some major French banks which are bound to register on your radar. They include these household names:

  • BNP Paribas
  • Societe Generale
  • Credit Agricole
  • La Banque Postale
  • Banque Populaire
  • LCL

Opening Your Bank Account in France

If you’ve already made the big move to France, you might find it easiest to open your account by simply turning up at a branch in person. Depending on the bank in question, this could well be the only way to formally open an account. 

You may be able to just stroll in and wait to speak to the right member of staff. On the other hand, some branches might expect you to phone ahead of time to make an appointment. It’s a good idea to mention if you aren’t fluent in French so the staff can do their best to accommodate you when you visit the branch.

Many banks will let you open your account online, even before you move to France. There’s also the option of opening an account with a bank that exists exclusively online. By banking this way, you may be able to take advantage of lower fees compared to traditional, bricks-and-mortar banks. Some of the standout names include:

  • Boursorama Banque
  • Monabanq
  • ING Direct
  • Hello bank!

Online banks don’t just offer potential cost benefits. As they’re tailor-made for mobile and computer access, you can be sure of a smooth, user-friendly experience when using their apps and websites. You might also just prefer the more streamlined approach of dealing with a bank which doesn’t require face to face interactions. Plus, it’s reassuring to know that online banks are often off-shoots from well-established, traditional banks – for example, Boursorama Banque is owned by Societe Generale, while Hello bank! is part of the BNP Paribas family.

Transferring Money into Your Bank Account in France

Setting up a bank account in your new country of residence is undeniably satisfying. It’s a pivotal moment which can make you feel like you’ve really “arrived” – even if you physically relocated a while back. And, once you’ve gone through the whole process of setting up your French bank account, chances are you’ll want to send some of your money over from your bank account back home. 

To avoid excessive transfer fees, you might want to look into using Remitly. Millions of people around the world trust us to safely and swiftly transfer funds from one nation to another – very often in order to support friends and loved ones in their home countries. 

You can find out how simple our service is by creating an account, which just takes a few minutes. Then, just add your debit or credit card information, your French account’s details, and you’ll be all set to send over the money. We offer a boosted foreign exchange rate and no transfer fee for your first transaction, and we guarantee the funds will appear in your account in France within the specified time frame or we’ll refund your fees. Don’t worry about keeping track of the transaction either, as we’ll provide automatic updates via text, email or push notifications so you’re always in the know.