How to open a business bank account in France

By Valérie Aston on 18 October 2019 · Viewed 2275 times · Questions

You have recently or are in the process of registering your French business and now want to open a dedicated bank account. As a reminder, micro-entrepreneurs with a turnover of at least 10,000€ for two consecutive years, need to open a bank account dedicated to their activity, but this can be a personal bank account. I find it best to have a dedicated bank account from the start, so you know where your business stands. Other business types such as entreprise individuelle or incorporated business will need to open a professional bank account.

How to open a bank account with a brick and mortar bank

I’m afraid that you cannot just pop round to your personal bank and open an account within the hour… French banks like to meet entrepreneurs before their business registration, so they can advise them, assess how much money they need, whether an overdraft or a credit card are required. In which case, they will ask you to meet with a business advisor conseiller clientèle professionnelle and not your personal account advisor. It is important to arrange this meeting, which may seem old fashion, as you may not get their approval otherwise.

How do you prepare your meeting with a French bank

It might take a week before you get a meeting with the conseiller professionnel. Prepare a short business plan or financial plan, even if you don't plan to borrow money. This can be a one or two-pager, just so they understand your plans and vision. If you want to borrow money, it will have to be a full business and financial plan. Think about the facilities which you may request from them: credit card, overdraft, liability insurance and point of sale terminal. Then shop around, as it is always best to see two or three banks to compare rates.

The level of information requested by the banquier will vary depending on your business type. Someone opening an incorporated business needs to provide a draft copy of the letters of incorporation, as well as a financial plan or business plan. The bank manager will keep the working capital deposit on a temporary account until your business official paper extrait KBIS is issued. For a micro-entrepreneurs, the banquier might just request your extrait KBIS or Attestation de situation INSEE.

What documents do you need to open a French bank account

Your bank manager will need to validate your identity and confirm that you do have an address in France. So the key documents to prepare are your passport, copy of your birth certificate or marriage certificate (just in case) and a utility bill less than 3 months old with your full address. You will quickly see that the utility bill such as EDF, water, gas or Orange for a landline number, is a key document in France. So, it is the one to get in order as soon as you move to France. You also want to ensure that it has both your names on if you are in a couple and that the full address is correct. 

When do you need to open a French bank account

It will be very difficult to open a bank account with a brick and mortar company, if you live abroad or don't have a property in France. It is, therefore, easier to open a bank account once you have a French address (rental or property) and a utility bill in your name (a mobile phone bill will not work). Once you have this, you will be able to open a bank account.

What about online banking for a French business

New companies also offer online services such as Qonto, N26, OrangeBankMona Bank, Revolut or Boursorama. These bank accounts work well for micro-entrepreneurs, as there usually are no fees for account management or transactions. N26, Revolut and OrangeBank also offer a free credit card. Qonto works well for incorporated business, as they also issue the working capital attestation de liberation de capital social needed to register your business. They also enable you to manage the credit cards for your team.

All online banks will require two or three proofs of identity and/or residency in France, such as your passport, a utility bill in your name and an IBAN/bank statement for another French bank.

I will be writing a review of online banks next month. So don’t hesitate to share your experience with me valerie(at)startbusinessinfrance.com.


Valerie Lemiere: Start Business in France

About the author: Valérie Aston

I've been helping people who want to start or already have a small business set up in France since 2009. After graduating from a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, I worked as a senior marketing consultant in the UK and France for various International companies. I worked as a conseillère en création d'entreprises (senior business advisor) for BGE here in France and run this independent business on a daily basis.