Opening a bank account in France

If you currently live in France and are over 18 years of age, you have the right to open a bank account, even if you do not have residency rights or income. If a bank has refused to open an account in your name, you can apply to open an account via the French central bank, called “Banque de France”.

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Anyone over the age of 18 who resides in France can open a bank account, even without residency rights orincome. This right is referred to as the “droit au compte”. Applicable law: Article 137 of the Law of 29 July 1998 known as the “loi d’orientation relative à la lutte contre les exclusions”.

Some French banks impose certain conditions, such as a minimum deposit, proof of income, or require new clients to be residents for tax purposes.  

In general, mobile or online banks are more flexible with their conditions.

How to proceed

  • To open a bank account in France, you will first need to prepare a file containing the necessary documents:

    • an identity document, such as your identity card or passport
    • a document proving your address, known as “justificatif de domicile”, or proof of residence, which is less than three months old, such as a rent receipt, a gas or electricity bill, or an “attestation d’hébergement” from the person you are staying with.
  • You can open a bank account in a cigarette shop called a “bureaux de tabac”, such as the Nickel account.

    • You will be asked to provide a document proving your identity and a phone number.
    • You  will be asked to  pay a fee when you open the account, approximately 20 euros.

    You will receive an account, a bank card and a bank identity document called a “Relevé d’identité bancaire (RIB)” in just a few minutes.

    You can then immediately use this account to receive bank transfers, including state financial assistance, and to deposit cheques.

  • Depending on your situation, you may choose a traditional bank, an online bank or a mobile bank.

    You can compare the services they offer and their rates by looking at their websites or contacting them directly. Online banks generally offer lower fees. 

    Be sure to check the bank's conditions for transfers, withdrawals, that you will be able to receive state financial assistance payments to this account, and pay service providers such as gas, electricity and telephone by "SEPA" direct debit.

    Once you have chosen your bank, you can apply to open an account in your name in two ways:

    • In a branch, by making an appointment with an adviser. Remember to bring all your documents with you to your appointment.
    • Online, by following the instructions on the bank’s website and uploading the requested documents.
  • If the bank accepts to open an account in your name:

    • They will give or send you a document to be signed to confirm the opening of the account called a “convention”, or agreement.
    • You can close this bank account whenever you like by sending a closure request to your bank by post.

    If the bank refuses to open the account in your name:

    • It must provide you with a document stating they have rejected your application called an “attestation de refus d’ouverture de compte”.
    • If the bank does not give you the “attestation de refus d’ouverture de compte”, make sure to ask for it.
    • This document will then enable you to apply to the French central bank to obtain a bank account within a few days. We will explain the procedure below.

In the event of refusal by a bank

If your request has been refused, you can contact the French central bank, called “Banque de France”, to ask it to start a procedure to force a bank to open a bank account in your name. This procedure is called the “procédure de droit au compte”.

  • You can find contact details for the “Banque de France” near you on this website.

    You can make an application by visiting a branch in-person, by post or online on the “Banque de France” website by creating a personal profile.

    If you make your application by post, it must include:

    • the completed “droit au compte”, or account entitlement, application form
    • the document called “attestation de refus d’ouverture de compte” given to you by the bank which refused your application
    • a valid identity document, such as your identity card or passport
    • a document proving your address, known as “justificatif de domicile”, or proof of residence, which is less than three months old, such as a rent receipt, a gas or electricity bill or an “attestation d’hébergement” from the person you are staying with.

    Send the letter by registered post with recorded delivery or “lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception”. This is the only way to prove your letter has been received. Keep the receipt as proof of postage.

  • After receiving your application, the “Banque de France” will have two working days to appoint a bank.

    You should receive a response by post to the address you provided on your application a few days later.

    You will then need to make an appointment with the designated bank, which will have three working days to open an account in your name once you have provided it with all the documents requested.

Find support

In France, there are many services that can support you, give you advice, and assist you with procedures and paperwork. Most of them are free of charge.

  • There are organisations called “associations” that offer to support people whose request to open a bank account has been refused.

    • These services are free.
    • They will inform you about your rights.
    • They can assist you carry out a procedure called “droit au compte” which enforces your right to a bank account, with the French Central Bank called “Banque de France
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • Contact: you can consult the list of certified “associations.

While the utmost care has gone into providing you with the most accurate and up to date information, this page is not intended to replace legal or professional advice. Laws and procedures change regularly so it is important to consult qualified professionals.

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