Banking in France: Managing an Account, Transferring Money & More
Managing a bank account and transferring money to and from France is going to be essential processes for anyone moving to or living in France. This guide will take you through the technicalities of getting your bank and finances set up in France, and how to manage money transfers towards other accounts or countries.
- Doing a bank transfer in France
- Closing a French bank account
- Understanding the French IBAN
- SEPA transfers to and from France
How to Do a French Bank Transfer
Once you have been able to open a French bank account, you will want to start managing your finances, including transfers. Doing a transfer to or from France is pretty easy, as detailed below.
Transferring money (euros) within the EU
Thanks to conventions and agreements made between its member States over the past years, it is now easy and inexpensive to transfer euros across the EU.
Indeed, the European Union has strived to create a unique system for electronic payments between its State members. This makes life especially easy for expats, international students and those travelling frequently beyond borders for business or leisure.
This means that today, when you operate a cross-border money transfer in euros, within the EU (plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), your bank won't be allowed to charge you more than what they would for an equivalent national transfer. This rule applies not only to transfers but also to withdrawals from any EU ATMs, payments by bank card and any direct debit transaction operated in euros within the EU.
To illustrate this, if you are charged €0.50 each time you withdraw cash from an ATM in your country of residence, then your bank can't charge you over €0.50 for withdrawals within other EU State members. These 2 identification numbers should be sufficient for you to operate a transfer, either via your bank's website or mobile app
What about Brexit?It is still unclear as to how Brexit will impact transfer fees and processes in the long run, however it already appears that UK banks don't all follow the non-surcharge EU rule, on the basis that they aren't part of the Eurozone and function with the pound sterling currency. Because of this, be prepared to be charged higher fees when transferring money to and from the UK to the EU, with these fees potentially increasing in the years to come.
To make a transfer from one EU account to another, you need to know the other account's IBAN (International Bank Account Number) and BIC (Bank Identification Number).
Transferring money outside of the EU
As there aren't international conventions when it comes to bank transfers, banks can apply the charges they want.
Your best bet, if you are planning to often make international transfers, is to contact a few different banks and enquire about their tariffs. Don't be too surprised if fees add up to a few tens of euros, sometimes more depending on the amount of money transferred and the currency exchange fee.
If you want to avoid such fees, consider free money transferring services such as PayPal or Transferwise.
How to Close a French Bank Account
Moving back home or changing your bank? Whatever the reason, if you wish to close your French bank account, traditional or online, then here is how to proceed.
First thing to note: since 2005, it is illegal for French banks to charge their clients for closing an account. This said, you may still have fees to pay, if for instance you had subscribed to a life insurance and need to repay early termination fees.
Here is how to proceed to close your French bank account, if you aren't planning to open another:
- Cancel all your regular transfer orders
- Inform your creditors and debtors
- Make sure you don't have any pending transactions
- Write a letter to your bank to request that they close your account
Here is how to proceed to close your French bank account, but switching to another bank:
- Make sure you don't have any pending transactions
- Open your account in your new chosen bank
- Transfer recurrent transactions from the old bank account to your new one
- Request the closure of the bank account by writing them a letter
Find out more detailed info about how to switch or close your bank account in this dedicated article.
IBAN in France
IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number. It is a series of letters and digits, which are used to identify an account and the bank establishment it is associated to.
Each IBAN is unique and specific to one bank account - meaning that your checking and savings accounts will both have different IBANs, even if they were set up together and with the same bank. It is important to know your IBAN in order to quickly and easily identify your bank account, on the condition that you know where to find it.
You can also check out this article dedicated to IBAN in France.
SEPA transfers to and from France
A SEPA direct debit is a direct debit that allows individuals and businesses in the 34 countries of the SEPA zone to receive payments in euros, under the same conditions as on their national territory.
To perform a SEPA Direct Debit, the debtor must sign a direct debit mandate from his creditor, who has a SEPA Creditor ID.
More information about SEPA transfers in this guide.