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 about online banking for a French business
New companies also offer online services such as Qonto, N26, OrangeBank, Mona 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.