Opening formalities

Any French resident can open a bank account. The opening formalities are relatively simple and must allow the bank to control the identity of the holder.

For this, we must provide a valid ID card and proof of address. The bank will also check with the Banque de France if the holder is not registered. Minors can also open a bank account with parental permission .

The opening gives rise to the signing of an agreement which takes the value of a contract between the bank and its client, in which are recorded the obligations of both parties and which specifies the operating conditions of the bank account and the cost of different services.


Anyone is free to choose the bank in which he wishes to open an account.

Note : it is possible to open several accounts in several different banking institutions.

The different basic banking services:

 The different basic banking services:

  • Operations management (deposits, withdrawals, checks, transfers, withdrawals, TIP …)
  • Periodic sending of statements
  • Management of automatic debits
  • Domiciliation of transfers
  • Issuance of means of payment (credit card, checkbook)
  • Provision of means of monitoring the account (internet, telephone, counter …)

The convention

 The convention

When you open a bank account, your customer advisor signs a deposit account agreement . A true legal contract, this agreement specifies the operating procedures, the various expenses incurred, including the amount of overdraft fees and the price of the various services offered, such as possible placement or insurance contracts, as well as internet management services. .

In case of dispute with your bank, remember to refer to the conditions of your agreement before starting any procedure.

Bank charges

 Bank charges

Before choosing a bank, it is essential to compare the cost of maintaining the account. Be aware that they may vary from single to double depending on the establishment.

Online banks remain the most economical even offering a free credit card such as Boursorama, ING Direct or Fortuneo bank.

Since 2009, the law requires banks to send an invoice to its customers (usually quarterly). It shows in detail all the expenses paid in the period (interest on loans, agios, management fees, etc.).

Namely : bank charges can be negotiated with your bank. Do not sign a contract until you have approached this point with your advisor.

It is obvious that it will be easier if you have several operations in the same bank, for example a housing savings plan or a livret A.


Bank overdraft

 Bank overdraft

Very used by many French, the overdraft is a simple way, without formality to have a cash advance. Less dangerous than permanent credit, the overdraft is however to be used sparingly, because it is ultimately more expensive than a simple credit.

The authorized overdraft

The overdraft authorized is a contract whereby the bank accepts that the holder is in a situation of debtor on a regular basis within the limit of the amount initially fixed.

The cash facility

The cash facility solves a temporary financial problem, with the bank granting an overdraft facility over a mutually agreed period.

The cost of overdraft, whether authorized or a cash facility, is relatively large. Be careful not to abuse it and especially to stay in the allowed frame. Any overshoot may cost you a lot.

Important : we advise you to ask for a written commitment and do not settle for a simple oral agreement from your customer advisor.

Payment methods


As part of the opening of your bank account, the establishment will make available to you a number of means of payment intended to facilitate the use of your deposits.
The various means of payment made available to the holder

  • The checkbook
  • The bank card (visa card, first card …)
  • The transfer (automatic, manual …)
  • Automatic withdrawal
  • The electronic purse

Value dates

 Value dates

When you deposit a check on your account, it will not be credited immediately by the bank, but after a few days, the time to process the transaction. This is called the value date . It should be noted that this practice does not concern the cash deposit which is immediately credited.

To calculate the value dates, it is necessary to count the working days of your bank, that is to say the days when it is open.

Conversely, a debit transaction will be recognized before the actual date of the transaction . To justify this practice, the banks claim that a delay is necessary to process the transaction.

Since 1 November, consumer rights have been strengthened. An order of July 15, 2009 framed the banks on the means of payment and especially the dates of value. Here are the highlights:

For transfers

Be aware that in case of transfer, the bank must credit you no later than the working day that corresponds to the deposit. On the other hand, in case of debit, the value date can not be earlier than the day of the transaction.

For checks

The value date may differ from a business day maximum the date of the transaction.

The attached account

 The attached account

It is possible that several holders – generally a couple – open an attached bank account that can be used by one or the other.

Interesting for those who wish to pool their revenues and pay two common expenses.

Very flexible, it allows each holder to use a checking account and a credit card.

Attention to the mentions : If you ask to write the checkbook in the name of Mr AND Mrs (or Miss), you will have to sign both the check, whereas the mention Mr OR Madam requires only the signature of one or the other .

Everyone has an active responsibility because the joint account commits each of the holders. The expenses thus incurred by one constitute a debt for both. In case of separation, you will have to ask to disassociate yourself .

Attention : you remain responsible for debts incurred until the day of the request.

Closing a bank account

At the initiative of the client

Closing a bank account when it is your initiative is a simple operation. For that
send a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt to your bank.

  1. Plan to keep a sufficient provision to cover all the expenses incurred (deductions, checks issued, card …)
  2. Return all means of payment at your disposal (unused checks, card …)
  3. Make any automatic debit changes in place on your new account.

At the initiative of the bank

If the closure is caused by the bank, it must inform you in sufficient time to allow you time to open a new bank account in another institution and make any changes necessary to its operation.

Your bank must also inform you of your right to basic banking services .
If you have difficulty finding an establishment that accepts you, know that you can start a procedure with the Bank of France.

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