Opening a bank account is one of the very first steps that you must take on your arrival in France. In the days immediately following your arrival, you will need to go to a bank branch in order to open a bank account.

Opening a bank account allows you to withdraw money from a cash point or to receive money (a salary, a grant, etc.).

It is also necessary to open a bank account to be able to register with the Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (local health insurance fund) in order to be reimbursed for your medical expenses or to be able to receive social assistance such as the CAF if you are eligible for it.

For information, opening a bank account from abroad is prohibited and the majority of French banks refuse to open a bank account for persons coming for a short stay. If you are coming for a short period and you are being paid by a French body, it is recommended that, prior to your departure, you negotiate the payment of your remuneration into your bank account in your country of origin.

Your EURAXESS LR services centre can help you opening a bank account when you arrive in Montpellier, by giving you privileged contacts in some agencies (negotiated offers).

For more information, contact us by email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and mention your EURAXESS registration number.


The various payment methods in France

For information: for any payments made, ensure that your account is sufficiently funded.

In recent years, the use of cheques as a method of payment has decreased in favour of other methods of payment such as bank cards. However, if you wish to make some payments by cheque, you have to request this when your account is opened.

It is useful to have a chequebook in particular for example to make certain payments such as for accommodation (deposit, guarantee, rent) or to pay for school enrolment.

Remember to check your bank statement, because when issuing a cheque, bank charges may be levied if you do not have funds in your account. This is one of the reasons why, in France, it is very common for retailers to require an identity document before accepting a cheque.

Remember to date, sign and complete the order (beneficiary’s name) and check that the sum written in numbers is identical that written in words.

It is the most commonly used method of payment in France. The main bank cards are Visa and Mastercard and are accepted in the majority of French businesses. A bank card is provided with a secret 4-figure code that you have to enter for each payment (this code must not be disclosed and must never be requested from you by another person).

There are two types of bank cards:

A withdrawal card that only allows you to withdraw money from cash dispensers

A payment card, which in addition to withdrawing money, allows you to pay for your purchases at retailers or to check your account statement.

You have to pay for a bank card and the annual fee depends on the bank and the type of card chosen. 

Remember to always enquire with your bank because some cards have additional charges for bank transactions abroad or in France if you withdraw money in competitor banks.

Your bank card enables you to withdraw cash. Payments in cash are made only in euros.

You can set up direct debits from your account online or directly in a branch. It is a payment method used for the regular and planned settlement of bills (such as rent, water, electricity, etc.).

- The bank account identification document (RIB)

In France, the RIB is a document provided by your bank that makes it possible to communicate your bank details to a third party. It is a document requested for example for the payment of your salary into your account or the reimbursement of your health expenses. Several RIBs are provided to you in your cheque book if you have one. You can also visit your bank branch to get it or access your account online to download it.

- The bank statement

Each month, your bank sends you a bank statement by post or directly on the Internet via your account online. It provides details of all of the transactions (funds going in and out) made on your account during the previous month. It therefore shows you the funds you have available on the date the statement is issued.

You may close your bank account at any time. As a first step, consider informing all of the organisations that debit funds from your account and ensure that payments are no longer forwarded to this account (bills, salary, rent, etc.). Next, you have to send a letter to request bank account closure. The letter must be sent to your bank by registered post with acknowledgement of receipt.

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