Why should you open a French bank account

If you intend to stay more than three months in France, then you are strongly advised to open a bank account in a French bank. Indeed, organisations such as CAF (housing aid) or the Social security will only reimburse you if you have a bank account. Moreover, a bank account will provide you with a chequebook and a debit card.


To open a bank account

You will need:
  • Valid ID (identity card or passport)
  • Valid resident permit or receipt of application (except for European students)
  • Proof of address (electricity bill, rent receipt, accommodation certificate…)

Finding a bank

Before doing anything, check with your bank at home to find out if it has a partner bank in France which might make things easier.

If not, make sure to compare the different banks. Some offer special deals for students (discounts, loyalty packages…)

Once you have made your choice, contact the bank and deposit at least 15€ on your account. You will receive your chequebook and debit card a few days later.

Particularities of banking in France

You will often have to pay for you debit card (15/40€ per year). Chequebooks are generally free of charge, but some banks will charge.

You will need a cheque to pay for your accommodation deposit, bills, rent etc… Beware however, some stores no longer accept cheques. Make sure you always have another means of payment with you. Also, make sure you you always have sufficient funds in your account. Otherwise, you will be charged fees which can be exorbitant.