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Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account in France

When you arrive in France, you will need to open a bank account for day-to-day formalities such as making international money transfers, withdrawing cash or paying your rent.

Opening a bank account

You can open a bank account at any bank. We recommend that you choose one of the main French banks such as Société Générale, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Crédit Lyonnais, Caisse d’Epargne or the network of the Post Office banks. To find the list of the nearest banks you may visit the Pages Jaunes.

What you need to know

  • The CEA Saclay has negotiated agreements with some banks. Two of them, BNP-Paribas and Banque Populaire, have an agency on campus.
  • The Alfred Kastler Foundation has negotiated an agreement with Société Générale.

You will need the following documents to open a bank account:

  • an ID or passport,
  • a residence permit,
  • a proof of address (electricity bill, lease…).

You may be asked to present additional documents. If you have any problem opening a bank account, do not hesitate to contact the International Office .

Payment options

Check ("chèque bancaire" or "chèque postal")

You have to ask for a checkbook when you open a bank account. You will receive your checkbook within 15 days. Make sure that your account always has a positive balance. If you write a check while having a negative balance on your account, charges will be debited from your account and the bank may seize your checkbook.
To fight theft, storekeepers usually ask for an ID before accepting your check.

Bank card

In France, bank cards usually are debit cards which enable you to pay for your purchases, check your account balance, and withdraw cash at ATMs. A bank card is provided with a secret PIN code which you must remember. The annual bank card fee varies depending on the type of card and the bank.

Please note that credit cards do not exist (or seldom) in France. Thus, make sure that your account always has a positive balance.


With your bank card, you can withdraw cash (10-euro, 20-euro, 50-euro, 100-euro, 200-euro or 500-euro notes). Thus, you can pay for everyday purchases without using your checkbook or debit card.

Bank documents

Relevé d’Identité Bancaire (RIB)

In France, the RIB is a document issued by your bank which shows your banking details (account number, personal address…). For instance, you need it to get your salary transferred to your bank account or to get your medical expenses reimbursed. Usually, there is one RIB in every checkbook. You can get several RIBs at your bank counter, using an ATM, or online.

Bank statement ("relevé de compte")

Usually, bank statements are sent to you on a regular basis. They show all banking operations carried out on your bank account. It also tells you the available balance at the time the bank statement is issued.


Upon your arrival in France, you will find foreign exchange offices in international airports and train stations. We recommend that you change currencies at a bank counter by ordering currencies in advance.

Switching bank, bank agency or bank account

Send a new Relevé d’Identité Bancaire (RIB) or Relevé d’Identité Postale (RIP) to your CPAM, indicating your social security number.