How to open a bank account in France? The best banks in France

France’s banking system is broadly divided into four major categories:

  • The Bank of France
  • Investment Banks
  • Deposit Banks
  • Credit Institutions

All these categories of banks provide different kinds of services, which overlap as well. As France is a European Union country, the currency used in the country is the Euro. Euro is also ranked as the 8th most powerful currency in the world. 

How to open a bank account in France?

Opening a bank account is very easy if it is clear which documentation you need to provide and if the bank you choose has efficient customer service. Most banks have fairly reliable online banking systems. You may even be able to open a bank account online also in some banks. There are some banks in France which only operate online having no physical branches. The account opening process is very simple, you just have to submit some documents. Foreign nationals can also have a bank account in France but they might need some additional documents as well.

The documents required by the banks may differ slightly from bank to bank. So it is advisable to check the different offers and read the terms and conditions for the account you wish to open.

In general, you just need to identify yourself and your income. More in detail these are the  documents which you could be requested, to provide depending on the type of account you want to open:

  • A valid identification card with a photograph.
  • visa or residence permit as proof of your right to remain in France.
  • A recent copy of address proof, recent utility bills with your name on them are acceptable. Other ways to prove your address can be acceptable depending on the bank.
  • Financial situations like bank statements, salary, or payslips as proof of your earnings.
  • Tax Identification number from your home country. This Tax Identification number may differ in some countries. As in the UK for example, it would be your national insurance number or your unique taxpayer number. 

Can a foreigner open a bank account in France?

Eligibility to open a bank account in France. You should be allowed to open a bank account in France whether you are a resident or a non-resident. Residents and non-residents of the European Economic Area (EEA) have an automatic entitlement to a bank account, while those who live outside of Europe do not.

This guide will provide a quick description of these different categories in the French banking system. 

Banks in France

The French banking system is one of the most powerful and developed banking systems in the world. France hosts branches of almost all popular banks in the world. The country has more than 550 banks in total. 300 of these are credit institutions that provide financial assistance. These credit institutions include mutual banks and municipal credit banks. France has both publicly owned, at least partially, by the French Treasury banks and private banks. The French banking sector provides employment to almost 360,000 individuals. Bank of France is the central bank of France ( in french: Banque de France). The Bank of France is the pillar of the economy and regulates most of the economic and financial services in the country.

Bank of France

The Bank of France or Banque de France was founded in 1800 as a private institution, and it later was acquired by the French state. It is an independent institution governed by French and European law. It has its headquarters in the capital city of Paris. The Bank of France also works as the central bank of France. The bank is also known to be the French pillar of the Eurosystem. Eurosystem is the federal monetary authority formed and run by the European Central Bank. The central banks of the Eurozone also run the Eurosystem but the Bank of France is definitely a leading member.

The main mission of the Bank of France is the same as the other Euro countries. It is responsible for the following three missions:

  • Forming monetary strategy in the country.
  • Maintaining the financial stability of the country, for example monitoring inflation and unemployment.
  • Providing economic services to the country.

Being the central bank of the country, the Bank of France also acts as the guardian of the currency. The Banque de France is the largest printer of the euro bank’s notes in the European region. France has two currency notes manufacturing sites in the Auvergne region. It is also responsible for ensuring and maintaining the quality of the currency.

Investment Banks

Investment banks are financial services companies that invest money. These banks act as an intermediary between the investors and the securities issuers. These investors can be individuals, businesses, corporations, and governments as well. Here are some of the best Investment banks in France:

Deposit Banks

Deposit banks are those banking institutions where account holders can deposit their money. Citizens having a bank account can deposit their money in these banks to earn some interest on their money. They can deposit the money in a savings account. There are many types of savings accounts available for different purposes. Here is the list of some of the different savings account available:

  • Passbook savings account ( in French: “Livret A”, “Livret Jeune” ). A passbook savings account is a general savings account. It allows you to earn a competitive rate of interest on your money deposited in the bank account. It also comes with a physical notebook known as a passbook. This passbook helps the account holder to track the transactions of his or her account.
  • Accounts for industrial development ( in French: “Codevi” ). These are basically the current accounts. They are used in transactions in companies or firms.
  • Housing Savings Plans ( in French: “ELP” ) and Home Savings Accounts ( in French: “CEL” ). The house savings account is the best-suited account for the first-time homebuyer. This account has the facility of saving funds for the down payment.
  • Retirement savings plans ( in French: “PERP” or “Perco” ). This is a long-term savings plan for employed persons. It is also known as the common retirement saving plan for self-individual. Small business owners also use this as their savings.

These are some of the popular banks where you can deposit your money to produce some interest:

Credit Institutions

Credit Institutions lend money to individuals or firms. These credit institutions lend money to the people as a loan facility. These banks also charge some amount as interest on the principal amount. For example, they can supply loans or mortgages. These credit institutions can also do brokerage. They would naturally concentrate more on the debt markets. Some of the best Credit Institutions in France are:

The cover image is somewhere in Toulouse, France. Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash