It is not mandatory to have a bank account in France but having one will help you better manage routine transactions such as paying your bills (including mobile phone and broadband charges), the payment of wages and benefits to you and the reimbursement of medical costs. It’s difficult to go without one!

Choosing a bank

It is up to you to compare what each bank offers in order to find the one that suits you best, considering factors such as the fees applied (e.g. for managing your account, making transfers and issuing credit cards) and the locations of branches (near your home or your place of study or work).

You can also ask your bank in your home country whether it has any partnerships with French banks, as this could simplify the formalities in France and enable you to save on international transfers, for example.

Bear in mind that many banks have special offers for students.

Opening a bank account

To complete the formalities required to open an account, you must make an appointment with an advisor at a bank branch.

The bank will give you a list of documents to bring with you to your appointment, but as a minimum you will need:
  • Proof of identity (ID card or passport),
  • Proof of address (home insurance, rental agreement, utility bill, written proof of accommodation (‘certificat d’hébergement’, etc.).
Also remember to bring proof of your status as a student in order to benefit from any special offers, or your employment contract if you have one.

Once your account has been opened you will receive a pre-printed form with your bank account details called a ‘Relevé d’Identité Bancaire’ (RIB), the French equivalent of the International Bank Account Number (IBAN). You will need to send this form to organizations and authorities in order to pay bills (by direct debit) or have wages, medical expense reimbursements or benefits paid directly into your account.
 
Please note
Your debit or credit card is not issued right away, you will receive it by post approximately ten days later.

Are you having difficulties opening an account?

Opening a bank account is a right enshrined in French law. If you are facing difficulties doing so, you can follow the procedure called ‘droit au compte’ (‘right to an account’) with the Banque de France. Under this procedure the Banque de France will appoint a bank that will be required to open an account for you.
> Find out more on the Banque de France website