While there tends to be a lot of paperwork, opening a bank account in France for non-residents is relatively straightforward. There are different types of French bank account available for permanent residents, students and non-residents. All citizens of EU countries are entitled to open a bank account in France, albeit with stricter terms and limitations.
Although most large banks are now adding more online and telephone banking features, visiting your local branch in person for most things is still the norm in France. When opening a bank account in France, new customers will almost certainly need to take valid identification as well as proof of address, visa status and proof of employment. It is quite unusual to open a French bank account online.
One obstacle that can prove tricky for new residents when setting up your finances in France is that most banks require proof of address to open a new “permanent resident” account. Simultaneously all landlords also require proof of a bank account from new tenants. However most banks and letting agencies will have come across this situation before, particularly with newly-arrived expats opening a bank account in France for the first time.
The majority of French banks close for several hours at lunchtime each day and are not open at weekends (although some do open until midday on Saturday), which can make life more difficult for those working standard hours during the week with a French bank account.
You may need to make transfers from one currency to another while setting up your finances in France. Most banks apply significant fees and unfavourable exchange rates to make currency transfers compared to dedicated foreign exchange specialists. MumAbroad has partnered with Clear Currency, the money transfer people, to provide a more efficient and better-value way to exchange currencies. Whether you need to make a large one-off transfer for a property purchase or are making smaller regular payments we recommend you give them a call. It is free to join with no obligation, they are FCA regulated, and offer competitive rates, a dedicated currency exchange platform, phone support and same-day transfers across more than 35 currencies.