When you open your bank account, you will immediately receive your bank details or, in French, your RIB (relevé d’identité bancaire), which is important and regularly used in many different types of procedures. Your account’s identification number allows you to receive bank transfers (for instance for the reimbursment of your health expenses or the payments from CAF) and set up automatic debiting. It is a very common method of payment in France. You will also receive a checkbook. The checkbook and the RIB are free. Remember to ask for your login details so that you can consult and manage your bank account online.
You should also establish your payment methods (credit card, international card…) with your bank — monthly fees will vary, most notably based on your chosen payment method.
Below is a list of documents that are generally requested to open a bank account:
- ID: a valid passport + for non-Europeans, a valid visa or residence permit
- Proof of address in France from the last 3 months
- a lease or an electric bill under your name, a rent receipt….
- if you are housed by a third party: proof of accommodation + proof of address under their name + a front and back copy of their ID
- Proof of professional research activity or PhD program (an acceptance letter from your university, a hosting agreement…), or being a student (enrollment certificate, student card)
- if possible, proof of financial resources for the entirety of your stay (proof of funding, scholarship, or stipend…)
You do not need to pay to close your bank account.
Please go about this carefully, regardless of whether it is before you leave or when you are back home.
The act of closing an account is subject to banking regulations. It is impossible to shorten wait times and all documents must be correctly filled out and signed. You branch cannot begin the process without your written agreement, your new address, and your new bank details.
Get in contact directly with your bank for more information.
Before You Leave
If you would like to close your account before you leave France, you must contact your bank at the latest 15 days before your departure.
Plan to have enough money left in your account to cover all ongoing transactions (uncashed checks, monthly withdrawals…). Cancel all of your account’s standing orders and automatic transfers (rent, electrical bills, taxes, rent subsidies …).
What to bring to the bank:
– your methods of payment (credit card, checkbook)
– a letter requesting the closure of the account, bearing the words “solde du compte en banque et de toutes les prestations qui y sont attachées” (account closure and all benefits attached thereto) and signed
– International bank transfer order or checkbook request. If the account balance is small, it is possible to have the remaining balance remitted to you in cash
From a distance
Will you be unable to close your bank account before you leave because you are waiting for bank transfers to go through (salary, rent subsidies, reimbursement of work expenses…)?
Before you leave: Ask your branch for an international transfer form.
Using registered mail while you are still in your country of residence, send the following:
- A letter requesting the closure of your account
The letter must bear the words “solde du compte en banque et de toutes les prestations qui y sont attachées” (account closure and all benefits attached thereto) and be signed
- Your debit or credit card cut in two (if you still have checks, you must dispose of them as well).
- Your new mailing address
- The international transfer form with the recipient account’s bank account information (depending on the region, either the BIC code or IBAN) if you would like to receive the remaining balance by bank transfer (you will be required to pay all associated expenses).
It is also possible to request the remaining balance by check.
You must cover the cost of the international bank transfer. The cost will be subtracted from the balance in your French bank account before the transfer can take place.
There are costs associated with checks, including fees to cash the check at your new bank.
Keeping Your Account Open for Next Time
You can leave your account open if you would like to come back to France regularly. If this is the case, you should let your bank know and communicate your new address to them.
Some Useful Banking Terminology
- Agios: overdraft charges, if spending is greater than cash inflow
- Carte de paiement: a payment card for withdrawals and payments
- Carte de retrait: card used only for withdrawals from ATMs
- DAB (Distributeur Automatique de Billets): an ATM
- Virement: a bank transfer, to move money from one account to another
- RIB (Relevé d’identité Bancaire): a document listing all of your bank account information
If Your Card is Lost or Stolen
For a credit card or Visa, you can call 08 00 90 11 79 free of charge
For a Eurocard or Mastercard you can call 08 00 90 13 87 free of charge
For an American Express card, you can call 01 47 77 70 00 free of charge