The How and Why of Opening a Bank Account

Understand the French banking system in a few lines.

For stays in France of over three months, opening a bank account can be useful in order to simplify your transactions.

In general, you will need to be settled in France before opening a bank account in France. Feel free to consult us in choosing a local bank.


The Welcome Center has set up a partnership with banks in Nice allowing the establishment of a RIB (relevé d’identité bancaire, account and wiring number) before arriving in France for scientists and doctoral students using our service. Certain requirements will nevertheless need to be fulfilled. Please contact us if this offer is of interest to you.


Usually, it is more practical to choose the branch closest to one’s domicile or work. When you have made the choice, you must contact the bank to obtain the list of required documents which normally include: the passport, residence card (if you need one), proof of residence not older than three months (water, electricity, Internet bill...). Other documents may be required, but you will be alerted by the bank agent before your appointment.

Once your French bank account is open, you can obtain a bank debit card, a checkbook (if requested) and a RIB (bank coordinates for incoming or outgoing wires). It is generally easier to pay electric bills, etc. with one’s RIB as opposed to writing endless checks.

Before leaving France (ideally 15 days before), and if you do not intend to make further trips to France, it is best to close your bank account. At this time, do not forget to also close all accounts with payees such as electricity, water, Internet providers, etc.



Whom to contact in case a bank card is lost or stolen ?

Carte Bleue  or Visa : 08 00 90 11 79 (free call)
 Eurocard or Mastercard : 08 00 90 13 87 (free call)
 American Express card: 01 47 77 70 00 (free call)

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