How to open a bank account in France

Gabriela Peratello

If you’re planning on a move to France, one of your first priorities will be opening a local bank account. While French banking has its quirks (like closing the office for lunch), getting started with a French bank account isn’t too tricky.

We’ll walk through how to open a bank account in France — plus as a bonus, we’ll look at the Wise Account — a flexible multi-currency account you can open from more or less anywhere.


Can I open a French bank account remotely?

How easy it is to open a French bank account remotely will depend on the account type and your residence status. There are increasingly options to open an account online if you’re a French resident with a full set of paperwork.

If you’re a non-resident, you might find it possible to open your account online — but you may also have more restrictions on your account options like minimum monthly deposits and withdrawal limits.

What documents do you need to open a bank account in France?

The documents you need vary between banks, but expect to be asked to provide¹:

  • Proof of identity — such as a passport, photo ID or driving license

  • Proof of your French address — such as a rental contract or utility bill

  • Proof of your visa status

If your documents aren’t in French, you may be required to have them officially translated or notarised. Check with your chosen bank for their policy.

Some banks require further details before you can open an account, such as evidence of your employment, or financial history to demonstrate you can pay your way in France.

These might be obtained through bank statements and additional documentation, or in an application interview directly with the bank.

What's the best French bank for your needs?

France has no shortage of banking options — so before choosing an account, be clear on what is important to you. If you’re not comfortable speaking French, or will be living outside of the major towns, choose an online bank with the option of corresponding in English.

Similarly, bank charges can be complex, so make sure that you fully understand the product you select, and check it suits your needs. Here are the key details for some popular options.

BNP Paribas

  • One of the largest high street banks operating in France

  • BNP Paribas® offer a wide range, from basic current accounts to savings products³

  • Check out the offers for 18-24 year old customers, which include hefty discounts on fees and charges⁴

La Banque Postale

  • La Banque Postale® is an offshoot of the postal service⁵

  • The largest branch network in France, operating through local post offices

  • Competitive rates, but service is likely to be French-language only

  • Start the application process online, before getting digitally verified, or posting your ‘dossier’ of forms and documents for free

Credit Agricole

  • Credit Agricole® Group is one of the largest in France and also offers services for business clients regionally⁶

  • Account products include 5 different bundles, depending on the types of services you need

  • Standard account bundles can be opened online

  • Full range of account services and additional financial products

The Wise Account: hold, send, spend, convert and receive euros even before you get to France

Check out the Wise Account — the multi-currency account you can get set up from the US, to hold and manage EUR alongside USD and more.

Open your Wise account with your US proof of ID and address, without needing to visit a bank branch, and get a Wise card plus local account details to get paid in 9 currencies including euros and dollars.

Wise currency exchange uses the mid-market exchange rate with low fees from 0.41%², so you can either add funds in USD and switch to EUR when you see a good rate, or let the card convert for you, with the lowest available fees every time.

Get started with Wise

Good things to know about banking in France

Some aspects of banking in France can feel quite alien. Charging structures are a good example.

Although there are many ‘free’ basic current accounts, it doesn’t mean that such accounts come without restrictions.

Many require a minimum initial deposit and ongoing monthly payments in addition to charges for using bank cards and for basic services like SMS balance updates and paper statements.

Account ‘handling fees’, which are monthly payments for the basic operation of the account, are generally fairly low — but you may still end up paying if your account is inactive for a set period. Check your bank’s policy, and don’t leave your account dormant or forgotten.

Standard banking hours are 8 or 9AM until 5PM, Monday to Friday, with some branches also opening on a Saturday morning. If you’re in a rural area, check the local branch hours, as closing for lunch is not unusual.

Opening a bank account in France: the bottom line

Having a functioning bank account in France will make daily life smoother, and help you settle quickly into your new home. If you’re already a French legal resident, with a full set of paperwork and a local proof of address, opening a bank account should be no problem at all.

However, if you’re looking for an account you can open remotely from the US, to hold and receive euros, you may find it trickier with a French bank. Instead you might consider a non-bank alternative, like the Wise Account.

Open your Wise account online or in the Wise app before you travel to France, and get started managing your money in euros as soon as your account is verified.



  1. N26 — documents needed to open a French bank account
  2. Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information
  3. BNP Paribas
  4. BNP Paribas — Accounts
  5. La Banque Postale
  6. Credit Agricole

Sources checked on 05.15.2023

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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