Q&A: Opening a bank account in France

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Your French property questions answered

We are planning to purchase a property in France next year with a French mortgage, and wondered at what point we should/will be able to open a bank account? What will we need in order to do this? We would want to use the account to make mortgage payments, pay utility bills etc.

Hilary Hughes

Laurent Galy of Britline (www.britline.com) replies:

If you wish to open a current account in France with a view to buying a property here, the formalities can be different from one banking establishment to another but you will need to provide at least one proof of identity and a proof of address per person.

Once your account is up and running you will be able to set up direct debits and standing orders, and if required you can obtain means of payment (debit card and chequebook) if your bank agrees.

When opening your account make sure you discuss all your requirements so the account can be tailor-made to meet your needs. English-speaking banking services do exist and can help you through this process.

If you wish to have a mortgage for the purchase of a property the bank will request proof of your financial situation, including your assets, in order to assess your borrowing capacity and this will enable them to propose a loan adapted to your situation. Analysing and finalising this type of request can take several weeks.

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The loan repayments will be taken from the current account held in France. The account can be opened at any time prior to making your loan request or at the same time, but if you want to become a property owner in France and you wish to open a current account to manage your general day-to-day running costs, then the sooner it is in place the better.