If you’re planning to purchase property in France or take out a French mortgage, you’ll need to open a French bank account, but this process can be more complicated if you aren’t resident in France. Here’s what you need to know about opening a non-resident bank account in France.
Can I open a bank account in France if I’m not a resident?
In France, anyone who has a right to residency also has an unconditional right to open a bank account, but what about if you aren’t resident and don’t plan to move to France? This is the dilemma faced by many second-home owners, but thankfully, it is possible to open a non-resident bank account in France.
Do I qualify as resident or non-resident?
For the purpose of opening a bank account, a French ‘resident’ is somebody who is tax resident in France. This means somebody whose permanent place of residence or centre of financial interests is in France, or someone who lives more than 183 days of the year in France (in which case you are liable to register for tax in France). This would equally apply to those staying in France on a long-stay visa, and those working or studying in France with a right to residency.
Simply owning a property or having ‘a residence’ in France does not qualify you as a ‘resident’. Nor does spending long periods of time in France each year or conducting frequent business in France. These reasons may help your application for a non-resident account as they show a clear need for a bank account in France, but they will not qualify you for a resident account.
Visit our French tax zone to learn more about whether you are considered resident in France for tax purposes.
What’s the difference between a resident and non-resident account?
A non-resident (compte non-résident) account works the same as a current account (‘compte courant’), but there are some key differences. Firstly, the eligibility criteria for opening a non-resident account is generally much stricter than that to open a resident account. You will likely need to provide additional documents (more about that below) and each application will be considered on an individual basis.
The fees for opening and running your account will likely be higher on a non-resident account, and you will likely find more restrictions on your account. For example, non-resident accounts may require a minimum deposit amount to be kept in your account at all times. You may have stricter monthly limits on transfer amounts, bank card payments, and cash withdrawals, and fees may be higher across the board. A non-resident would be unlikely to have access to options such as an overdraft or credit card.
Which banks offer non-resident accounts?
Many high street French banks will not open accounts for non-residents, although this may be different in certain circumstances. A foreign buyer eligible for a mortgage with a French bank would of course be able to open a bank account with the same bank and some high-street banks may consider opening a non-resident account for an applicant with a strong financial profile.
The best options for non-residents tend to be the international banks and online banks. HSBC, Société Générale (and its associated online bank Boursorama Banque), BNP Paribas, and LCL all offer non-resident accounts, while Crédit Agricole’s Britline is popular among British residents. Online banks including N26 and Orange Bank also provide options for non-residents. Remember that each bank will have different eligibility criteria for non-residents.
Read our article on Which French Bank? for a full list of options.
Opening a Non-Resident Bank Account in France
Opening a non-resident account will require considerably more paperwork than a resident account. Most French high-street banks require that non-resident accounts are opened in person and you will need to book an appointment with a bank advisor in order to do so. For online banks and some international banks, you will be able to set up your account online or in your home country.
What you need to open a non-resident account
Every bank will have its own eligibility criteria and requirements for opening a non-resident account. Banks will want to be assured of your identity and legitimate reason to hold an account in France (to protect against money laundering and fraudulent activities), as well as your financial status and stability. You should expect to be asked for a number of documents, including:
- Your passport or ID
- Proof of address (in your country of residence)
- Current bank details (in your country of residence)
- Marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Proof of income: payslip or tax notice for at least the past three months (or more if self-employed), employment contract or details of business/self-employed status
- Three most recent bank statements
- Foreign tax identification number
You may also be asked to provide additional details relating to the purpose of your account, such as proof of homeownership in France if applicable.
Opening a Non-Resident Bank Account with CA Britline: FAQ
FrenchEntrée partner Crédit Agricole’s Britline answered some of your most frequently asked questions about opening a non-resident bank account in France.
What are the eligibility criteria for UK residents to open a non-resident bank account in France?
As part of CA Normandie, Britline must comply with French banking regulations.
To open an account in France it is necessary, either as a UK fiscal resident or a French fiscal resident, to have a link to France (for example, a main residence, a secondary home, work or as a regular visitor), and be able to provide the required paperwork.
The process is completed after an appointment with your bank either at distance or in person to tailor your account to your needs in France.
What paperwork and initial deposit do you need to open a CA Britline account?
The documents required are:
- 2 proofs of ID
- Proof of address
- Proof of fiscal residence
The first deposit onto the account depends on the services that you require, however it is important that the transfer comes from an account in the new customer’s name.
Are there any differences to be aware of regarding fees, rules, or limitations (in comparison to a resident account)?
There are no differences in fees or rules when managing the accounts of French fiscal residents and UK-fiscal residents.
However, some saving products, insurance products & loans are only available for French fiscal residents.
Are there any changes for UK non-residents post-Brexit?
Our application process has not changed post-Brexit and it is still not necessary to have an address in France to open an account with us.
Don’t hesitate to call us at +33 2 31 55 67 89 should you have any further questions or are interested in opening an account with us!
Managing Your Finances in France
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