How to open a bank account in France

A French bank account may be necessary to pay for your rent, receive a scholarship or financial aid, get refunded for medical expenses with the French social security system, pay your electricity or gas bills, etc. At KEDGE, we can explain how to open a French bank account as an international student, what options you have, and what documents are required for the procedure.

Do students need a bank account in France?

It is not required by law to have a bank account in France if you study here. However, handling your student finances from a foreign account will be challenging and potentially expensive. The majority of international card transfers have exorbitant fees, and you can get a poor exchange rate while converting your currency to euros or inversely. 

This is particularly true when it comes to receiving your scholarship/salary and paying rent for student accommodation, service bills, or subscriptions in France.

Do you have to pay for a bank account in France?

To open a bank account in France is usually free of charge. However, you can be charged for some additional banking services. Some banks may charge a small fee for opening a French bank account online. Other packages can include free online banking services, but high fees for anything extra (such as in-branch services).

We recommend you compare what different banks can offer. The fees for using a bank card, making foreign transfers, and taking out cash overseas might differ significantly between banks. You may check the cost of the services provided by French banks using a free online comparison tool (branch-based or online banking).

Types of bank accounts in France

There are two standard types of French bank accounts that may be useful for an international student in France:

  • Current account (compte courant): the most basic bank account in France, with no service fees for the basic package and easy access to funds for managing daily expenses. Many French banks have special offers for student, young adult, and non-resident accounts.
  • General savings account (Livret): a French bank account for saving money that is not needed right away, but may be quickly accessed and transferred to and from your current account. Most banks also provide the option of a tax-free savings account (Livret A).

How to choose a bank for an international student in France?

You should browse around and consider what matters to you most before opening a bank account in France. Do you want more services, more convenience, or reduced prices? You might want to think about the following:

  • Service costs: It might be challenging to understand the nuances of all the banking fees and charges, so make sure to have it clarified for you by a bank provider.
  • Range of available services: You might be interested in learning about the services available for international money transfers or French savings schemes;
  • Accessibility: How do you prefer to manage your bank account: online, on a mobile device, or in person? A French mobile bank account can be the best choice if you wish to have access to your account from anywhere using your smartphone.
  • English-speaking services: available in international banks and online banks, but much less in smaller regional banking institutions.

How to open a bank account in France as an international student?

You can inquire about opening an account at any branch of a French bank. It is possible that the staff will not speak English, so it could be a good idea to bring a translator with you or ask to complete the necessary documents later. Typically, banks are open from Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, closing only for lunch (some are open half day on Saturday).

Bank account in France: document checklist

These are the documents usually required to open a bank account in France:

As soon as the bank agrees to open an account in your name, you must sign an account agreement outlining its terms and conditions. Within 7 to 14 days, you should receive your banking documents (debit card, account number, chequebook).

If a bank rejects your application, it must explain its reasons. In such cases, you may contact the Banque de France, which will assign you a bank.

Your bank account may be closed at any moment by a letter with receipt acknowledgment.

For further questions regarding a bank account in France, you can contact our international student associations upon your arrival: