Opening French bank account before relocation

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Opening French bank account before relocation


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Old 20th April 2019, 10:36 PM
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Default Opening French bank account before relocation

Hi! We will be relocating to North France this summer from the US. We are looking for insights on where to open a French bank account prior to arrival? Thanks!

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Old 21st April 2019, 07:14 AM
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Do you know where you're going to be relocating to? (I mean town and address.) One critical point about banking in France is that it's very much branch specific. You probably want to open an account in a branch that is conveniently located - either close to where you'll be living or close to your normal commute route, because there are still a certain number of transactions you will need to go into your branch to deal with.

People often recommend HSBC for its international reach, however the branches of HSBC are somewhat limited in France outside of the major cities (i.e. Paris) and, to take benefit of most of the international services, you do have to have a rather hefty balance.

The other factor is that, in most cases, you will need to appear in person to open an account. That's part of the international "know your customer" thing designed to avert money laundering and tax evasion. Means, for France, you'll have to take an appointment and produce documents regarding your identity, sources of income, residence address, etc.

If you're moving for or with employment, you may want to ask your employer for help in opening a bank account. It's sometimes possible to get the employer's bank to open an account for you without all the paperwork and hassle.

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Old 21st April 2019, 07:17 AM
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HSBC can open up a French account for you if you already have a US account with HSBC with deposits/investments in US accounts of over $100K. They will do this when you are serious about moving to France (like already applied for a visa, quit employment in US in anticipation of move, contracted for purchase of home in France, etc).
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Old 21st April 2019, 11:09 AM
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6 years ago I used HSBC at their Reading England Branch to open a French Bank Account at their Blagnac Branch and it all went beautifully. My branch is near the Airport and thus close to my place of work and is easy to get to from there or my residence. I recommend them.

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Old 21st April 2019, 04:57 PM
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Well, all I can tell you is that my wife and I went to a BNP Paribas here in Paris back in late-January and met with a banker. He assured us that we met all qualifications, etc. He took all of our info, and we went back the next week to sign papers.

About a week later, we got a letter from BNP Paribas telling us we had an account and giving us all the information (e.g., account numbers, wire transfer info, etc.). I contacted my bank in the U.S. and asked for a few thousand dollars to be transferred (as a test). About a week later we got a letter from BNP Paribas telling us the money had been received, converted to euros, and that we had a balance of about 2,500 euros.

We went online to see, and could not access it.

We contacted our banker, and he told us, "Sorry for the confusion, but you account hasn't been opened yet because you need to prove that you live where you say you live in Paris."

After weeks and weeks of this and that, we were finally TODAY able to access our account online and see the balance. And we are going over Tuesday to sign for our debit cards.

I'm not saying that this is the norm, but be advised.

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Old 21st April 2019, 05:08 PM
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Contacted HSBC (via a relocation agent), sent them passport scans, etc.

Arrived in France to find that I already had a French bank account, with my US address as a temporary one.

Went to the bank branch, introduced myself, went to the cash machine, withdrew 300€ from my US bank, deposited it into HSBC. All good.

Found an apartment, signed the lease, told HSBC about the address "change", no problems.

If there's an HSBC near you, check them out.

(Did not have an account with HSBC in the US)

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Old 22nd April 2019, 11:58 AM
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HSBC in France flat out refused to open an account for us, despite us being in France with a residence visa and providing them with all their required documentation and despite having accounts with HSBC elsewhere. They were completely unhelpful all the way around.

We eventually went with BNP Paribas, who were more than helpful.

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Old 22nd April 2019, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMAshton View Post
HSBC in France flat out refused to open an account for us, despite us being in France with a residence visa and providing them with all their required documentation and despite having accounts with HSBC elsewhere. They were completely unhelpful all the way around.

We eventually went with BNP Paribas, who were more than helpful.
Did they (HSBC) give a reason? I have found them very helpful to me over the 6 years I have been living and working here.

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Old 22nd April 2019, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
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Did they (HSBC) give a reason? I have found them very helpful to me over the 6 years I have been living and working here.
No. They refused to provide a reason.

We found the staff who we dealt with at that branch to be unfriendly and unhelpful and abrupt. It could be something as simple as they weren't in the mood/didn't feel like doing their job. We asked our relationship manager at HSBC Expat to help, but she didn't, either. We've found the quality of service at HSBC in general to have taken a very steep decline in the last, oh, five or six years.

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Old 22nd April 2019, 02:49 PM
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The other big factor is the "branch nature" of banking here in France. No matter what "brand" of bank you deal with, the customer service can and does vary greatly from one branch to the next. And service can vary, too, with the particular branch manager. (A lousy branch manager leads to surly, unhappy employees and that results in unhappy customers.)

Some branches are mere training posts for branch managers on their ways up (or down) and the ambiance of the branch changes accordingly.

HSBC or no, the banks in France are organized under French law (including labor law) and the branches are run accordingly. One reason why the policies are a bit more consistent with an online bank. However you need to have had a bank account with a "bricks and mortar" bank before you can open an online account.

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