MBA France

French banking


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The Bank of France ("Banque de France") is a member of the European System of Central Banks (ECSB) and the Banque de France's governor sits on the executive board of the European Central Bank.

The commercial banks provide all common financing mechanisms, including short, medium, and long-term loans, short-and medium-term credit facilities, and secured and non-secured overdrafts. Commercial banks also give a hand in public offerings of shares and corporate debt, and mergers, acquisitions and takeovers. Banks also provide hedging services against interest rate and currency fluctuations. France also has more than 170 foreign banks; some have sizable branch networks. Foreign companies have access to all banking services. The five largest French banks hold FRF 6.7 trillion in assets, about 41 percent of total French banking assets.

Euro in France

On 1 January 2002, France, like the other 11 members of the Eurozone, started using Euro notes and Euro coins for cash transactions. Within a few months, the old coins and banknotes in Francs have been retired. As with all countries in the Eurozone, France has its own national version of the Euro coins. Among the images featured is Marianne, the woman who symbolises the spirit of the French Republic. The total euros minted for France weigh about three times as much as the Eiffel Tower.

Choosing a Bank in France

Consult with your bank in your home country if there is an associated bank in France, which may simplify some operations. Otherwise, if you do not have particular needs, it is probably better to choose one of the main French banks because of the large network of their branches. The major banks in France are:
  • BNP-Paribas: website:
  • Société Générale: website:
  • Crédit Agricole: website:
  • Caisse d'Epargne: website:
Most banks in France have special offers for students and young people (generally under 26) to attract new young customers. As you can get lower account costs for credit cards, etc it's worth your time to find out about these offers.

If you have specific needs or you want to do large transfers and balances, you should negotiate with several banks. Service levels are variable in banks and depend on the individual you are dealing with most of the time, so don't hesitate to change branch if you're not getting the service you require.

How to open an account

If you are staying in France for a long period of time, maybe three months or more, you will probably need to open a bank account (compte courente) as a 'résident'. This is usually direct and free.

You usually need to hand in the following:
  • Your passport
  • Your residency permit (titre de séjour or carte de séjour).
  • A proof of address (For example: your telephone bill, electricity/gas bill, rent contract/receipt, etc.) including your name and address.
If you don´t have a proof of residence or a residence permit, you can open a non-resident account (compte non-résident). In terms of services and fees, non-resident accounts are normally the same as resident ones. The main difference is usually that the bank may not issue a credit card or provide an overdraft.

Perhaps, you might open a savings account (compte d'épargne), but this will not give you a credit card or overdraft. Some banks will assign you a personal adviser as your link with the bank.

Note: Verify the conditions on your account to avoid bad surprises. Even a few days of overdraft (découverts) in a permitted limit can be expensive. Unauthorized overdrafts mean a bank can block your credit card or withdraw your cheque-book. Depending on the bank and your income, there are different overdraft schemes; if necessary, you should negotiate this when opening your account.

More Info: Financial institutions and banks

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Money & Finance in France
MBA France