How to open French bank account

By Valérie Aston on 4 February 2022 · Viewed 731 times · Questions

This article covers how to open a French bank account, whether it's for you as an individual or for your business in France.

1 - Start by opening a personal bank account

It may sound strange, but this is where I would recommend you to start. When arriving in France, the key to opening your business bank account is to already have a step into a French bank with a personal bank account. This will make it easier for your business.

French current account - compte courant

When talking about current bank accounts, which is called “compte courant” in French, the standard banks are Credit Agricole, Credit Mutuel, Caisse d’Epargne, BNP Paribas, CIC or Banque Populaire. You sometimes find international banks such as HSBC, Barclays, or Bred, but they tend to be in big towns only.

A key document required to open a personal bank account is a utility bill - electricity, gas, water less than 3 month-old. For an unmarried couple, make sure you put both your names on at least one of the utility bills when moving in, as this document will be asked again and again.

Documents required to open a current account in France

To open a personal bank account, you will need:

  • A utility bill in your name, 
  • your passport, visa or carte de sejour,
  • a bit of money.
  • Proof of income if you have any.

How do you open your personal bank account in France

I am afraid that France is very old-fashioned, and that you will have to book an appointment with the “Conseiller particulier” handling private bank accounts. Call to book an appointment and bring all the documents mentioned above to open your current account. The only bank that would tend to do this remotely is Credit Agricole, with its subsidiary called Britline.

How to open an online bank account in France

You might decide to go directly for an online bank to save some time. But I’m afraid that this will come as a secondary step because online banks actually request a French IBAN to open an online bank account! I.e you will supply an IBAN in your name from Credit Agricole in order to open your online bank. Yes, I can see your eyes rolling…

You need to have that standard brick-and-mortar bank. For instance, if you are thinking about your online banks such as N26, Revolut, Shine, Orange Bank or Hello Bank, they're going to be asking for proof that you already have a standard French bank account.

2 - How to open a business bank account in France

Let's talk about your French business bank account. You will come across the same traditional banks - Credit Agricole, Caisse d’Epargne, BNP Paribas, CIC, Credit Mutuel and BPO/Banque Populaire. These banks easily work with small businesses and freelancers.

Documents required to open a business bank account

In order to open a professional bank account, you'll need :

  • A copy of your business papers called - Extrait KBIS or Attestation INSEE.  
  • A utility bill in your name (less than 3 months old).
  • A copy of your passport, visa or carte de sejour,
  • A bit of money to put on the account.
  • Any presentation you may have about your business

If you're creating a French incorporated business, you won’t initially be able to provide your Extrait KBIS, as you need to deposit the working capital on the bank account before registering the business. You will therefore provide a draft of your letters of incorporation.

How do you open a business account in France

Still the same thing… You have to go and visit or call the bank and book an appointment with Conseiller Professionnel. Make sure you go for the Conseiller Professionnel, because the Conseiller Particulier isn’t entitled to create professional bank accounts. Bring the documents that I mentioned above. If you have any proof of income, this will also help to get a professional bank account.

Opening an online business account

Neobanks with business bank accounts include N26, Shine, Qonto, or Boursorama. 

If you are creating a French Incorporated business, I would tend to go for a bank with a French IBAN, which also issues the “attestation de depot de capital” for your working capital deposit, such as Qonto, Boursorama, or Shine.

Your feedback on French banks

I'm interested to get your feedback on your French bank for a future article. Don't hesitate to share your experience with me via email or social networks.

How to open French bank account

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.