When settling in France, having a bank account is unavoidable. Nowadays it is possible to join both a physical bank or a Neobank, this article covers “old school” banks and the different options available to non-French people settling in France.
Can foreigners open bank accounts
Depending on your origin, both residents and non-residents originating from the EEA (European Economic Area) have the right to open a bank account in France. People from overseas do not have the automatic right to a bank account and opening one is more difficult.
Can I have a French bank account
without a French address?
No, this is not possible. To open a traditional bank account you must have a utility bill no older than 3 months, or have an “Attestation d’Hébergement”, a document from the person hosting you proving that you have a residence.
If you do not have a French address, then exploring options with a Neobank is easier.
Which is the best bank to use in
It depends entirely on your personal situation and financial needs to decide which bank is best for you. There are some safe options, like the bank operated by the post office which has over 10 million users, or the bank started by farmers in 1984 and is quite popular. In France, there are three types of banks:
- Groupe BPCE
- Crédit Agricole (CA)
- Crédit Mutuel
- Crédit Lyonnais (LCL – owned by CA)
- BNP Paribas
- Crédit Industriel et Commercial (CIC)
- La Banque Postale
- Société Générale
- Groupe Caisse d’épargne
- Groupe Banque Populaire
- Deutsche Bank
- Citi Bank
The largest bank is BNP Paribas, followed by Crédit Agricole, Société Générale, BPCE and then Crédit Mutuel. The bank with the most customers is La Banque Postale. There is a website that helps compare bank costs, only in French for now, but it may be helpful.
How do I get a French bank
With these types of banks, going in person is unavoidable, so you need to find your nearest branch, take the documents required and visit when the bank is open. Depending on your nationality, documents and status, you could open your bank account then and there. Click here for the article on how to Open a French Bank Account.
Is it difficult to open a French bank
It’s easier if the bank speaks your language (if you’re not proficient in French) and if you have the required documents. While most international banks have language options, Crédit Agricole has an English-speaking hotline, and some regional branches of the Banque Populaire also offer English as an option.
Do I need a French bank account?
No, not necessarily. Depending on your origin, having an account, say, in Europe could be enough to make online payments and receive a salary. If you however are an American citizen it’s probably easier to open a French account, at least with an international bank. If you wish to buy property or take out a loan with a French bank, you must have a French bank account.