Expat Forum For People Moving Overseas And Living Abroad banner

1 - 20 of 38 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello---This is my first post. My husband and I are planning our move to France (Alsace) the end of 2019. We will be retiring.

I want to know if anyone has found a banque that will open a Comte Non-Résident for an American. I know that once we are residents we can get an account, and I have read that there are banks that will open Non-Resident Accounts, but has anyone on this forum done this successfully, and if so, which bank? :fingerscrossed:

Thank you so much for reading my post.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
I believe HSBC will help with that. Haven't done it yet but that's my plan. I think if you have the Advance or Premier accounts they will let you open one for France from here. I started by opening a US based account with them completely online. (we are in the midwest, there branches are only on the east or west coast I believe) Once we get closer to our move date this is the plan we intended to pursue. Others may comment on whether successful or not with this strategy...

The other thing I believe that will happen is that we can transfer our funds between the US and French accounts. i.e. our social security will deposit US and we will move it to the french account as needed/advantageous
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
49,424 Posts
Just be aware that for the HSBC Advance or Premier accounts, you need to have a rather hefty minimum balance. The other caveat is that HSBC in France is normally only in the larger cities/towns. If you have plans to retire out to the more rural areas, it can be difficult to manage your French account at distance like that.

Plus, on the US Social Security, it is possible to have your social security direct deposited into your French bank account on a regular basis - at an excellent exchange rate (due to the US Consulate in Paris receiving ALL benefits in a lump sum each month for a single big conversion to euros).

For the non-resident accounts, I think most banks will require that you make an appearance in person to open the account (under the Know Your Customer rules). Usually, they are for folks who have bought or are buying a "vacation home" in France and the account is set up on one of their visits over there.

Banking in France is still very much done on a "local" branch basis so your experience can vary from one branch to the next even in the "same" bank. This applies to opening an account as well as everything else - especially these days for Americans (thanks to the FATCA regulations the banks are being held to).

But I'd be interested in hearing from anyone here who has opened a non-resident account in a French bank in the last couple of years, and what was required to do so.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
HSBC in the US, Advance means a $5000 minimum balance in checking, savings or investments. Premier requires $100K.

Nice to know about the Social security through the consulate. How do you arrange that? Do you have to go to Paris?

Thanks,
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks to everyone who has responded so far. Bev, I'm pretty sure you will be proven right about going in person. We have a visit this November with that intention, but I was trying to contact some in advance to see who I should visit. So far I have written to Credit Agricole-Alsace Vosges app. 3 weeks ago, but I have not received a response as to whether they would allow me to open an account in November and what I should bring.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
mikea2, I have also seen that your Social Security can be deposited directly into your French bank account. I believe that it is done through the Social Security website.
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
Thanks to everyone who has responded so far. Bev, I'm pretty sure you will be proven right about going in person. We have a visit this November with that intention, but I was trying to contact some in advance to see who I should visit. So far I have written to Credit Agricole-Alsace Vosges app. 3 weeks ago, but I have not received a response as to whether they would allow me to open an account in November and what I should bring.
Bring your passport and proof of residence (eg. an original US utility bill less than 3 months old). Hopefully they will respond - did you send the email to a particular Branch? But if you will be here for several weeks you should be able to walk in and make an appointment for a week or so in advance.

Edit:
Plus some funds for an initial deposit, preferably not cash (max cash amount would be 1500 Euros but cash deposits raise red flags re money laudering) .
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
49,424 Posts
HSBC in the US, Advance means a $5000 minimum balance in checking, savings or investments. Premier requires $100K.

Nice to know about the Social security through the consulate. How do you arrange that? Do you have to go to Paris?

Thanks,
You need to contact the Federal Benefits Unit at the Paris consulate. https://fr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/social-security-administration/

I don't think you have to go in to the consulate to arrange for direct deposit of your US SS benefits. Just be aware that their phones are only open a couple hours a day on specific days of the week. I have found, however, that the FBU personnel are extremely helpful and easy to deal with.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
49,424 Posts
Thanks to everyone who has responded so far. Bev, I'm pretty sure you will be proven right about going in person. We have a visit this November with that intention, but I was trying to contact some in advance to see who I should visit. So far I have written to Credit Agricole-Alsace Vosges app. 3 weeks ago, but I have not received a response as to whether they would allow me to open an account in November and what I should bring.
It's a little bit early to be making appointments for November - not to mention being the start of the summer holiday season. Best bet would be to stop into the bank when you arrive in November (i.e. the branch in the area/town where you are planning to settle) and ask to make an appointment to open an account. Most banks can give you an appointment within a day or two, along with a list of the documents you'll need.

Key things will be your i.d. (passport), proof of residence (back in the US if you are going the non-resident route), proof of your source of funds (salary, pension, etc.). You aren't required (usually) to have your income direct deposited to your account, but they do need and want to know where you are getting your money from. (Part of the Know Your Customer stuff, and especially important for non-resident accounts - or so I'm told.) As US citizens, you'll need to fill out a W-9 form (or their equivalent) and provide your US SS numbers. If you're retired by November, you should probably have your SS statement handy (the thing they send you saying how much you'll receive each month), or if not, either back pay slips or maybe even your last income tax forms or a few months worth of your US bank statements. You may not need them, but it always helps to have a few extra documents "just in case."
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Thanks EverHopeful, I did send an email to a specific branch. I will probably send them a follow-up request. We will only be in town (Sélestat, near Colmar) for 6 days, so I would need to set it up ahead of time, I believe. Thanks for your list of items.

As regards the initial deposit, what can I use instead of cash, baguettes??? Just kidding, lol!! You probably all know that I will be stuck in the Catch-22 of no bank, no appartment, no utility bills.....I am just trying to break through somewhere!! Thanks for your help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Awesome, Bev. Thank you so much!! Maybe I will wait then. We won't be retired until next year, and we will be drawing from savings and 401K for the first 10 years or so before starting Social Security. I'm not sure yet how I will prove income, unless Vanguard can maybe give me a statement saying that my money will last for x years with x dollars a year withdrawals.

This is a big project, but we have over 1 year to get everything together. I look forward to chatting more in the future.
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
I'm not sure you have to prove income to open a non-resident account; I didn't, but that was some years ago.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
49,424 Posts
I wouldn't worry too much about proving future income (i.e. your retirement pensions pre-retirement). They just want/need to know that you have a source of income that isn't drug running or something else nefarious. They may also want to know what you are planning to do with your non-resident account. - i.e. buy a house locally, preparing to move on x date, etc. Any local connections would be useful (i.e. do you already have a property in Selestat? friends or family in the area?).

If you'll be living off savings, then bring a few recent bank or Vanguard statements with you. (Last 3 months is always a "safe" approach.) With the bank statements, they're just looking to see that you have money regularly coming in and going out.

One small issue to consider if you're retiring "early" is that of your eligibility for a visitor visa (the one year visa that most retirees have to use). If you retire "too" early, they may hesitate to give you a fully renewable visa, on the theory that should financial conditions go sour, you'd be tempted to find work "under the table." It's not a major threat - but given how international relationships are going these days, just something to keep in the back of your mind.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
I wouldn't worry too much about proving future income (i.e. your retirement pensions pre-retirement). They just want/need to know that you have a source of income that isn't drug running or something else nefarious. They may also want to know what you are planning to do with your non-resident account. - i.e. buy a house locally, preparing to move on x date, etc. Any local connections would be useful (i.e. do you already have a property in Selestat? friends or family in the area?).

If you'll be living off savings, then bring a few recent bank or Vanguard statements with you. (Last 3 months is always a "safe" approach.) With the bank statements, they're just looking to see that you have money regularly coming in and going out.

One small issue to consider if you're retiring "early" is that of your eligibility for a visitor visa (the one year visa that most retirees have to use). If you retire "too" early, they may hesitate to give you a fully renewable visa, on the theory that should financial conditions go sour, you'd be tempted to find work "under the table." It's not a major threat - but given how international relationships are going these days, just something to keep in the back of your mind.
Cheers,
Bev
Well, I didn't need to prove income when I opened my non-resident account with Crédit Agricole Alsace-Vosges (a branch in the Vosges), and I just told them I wanted to be able to transfer money in for holidays in France. Whilst that was a few years ago the rules re money laundering were the same. The documentation they required from me was Aussie passport, Australian utility bill (not even a deposit lol). That doesn't mean that they'll instantly make the account fully operational or apply the maximum limits on operations (carte bancaire has to be prepared and collected in person and cheque book printed and mailed or held for collection as you require and they might require a certain balance in the account before doing so, but it will allow you to make transfers into the account and to do some functions. I was fortunate enough to be able to do it all via email and without an initial deposit, but I would say that is definitely not the norm.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
49,424 Posts
The other "unknown" is the little matter of the OP being from the US. Those FATCA laws affect banking in different countries (and here in France even in different branches) in different ways. Even a change in the branch manager can result in a change in how things are handled.

It's usually best to be prepared for "the worst" scenario. If it turns out you brought a few extra documents with you, then it's no great loss of time or effort.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
From the USA...lived in Canada, the UK, and France
Joined
·
1,283 Posts
You need to contact the Federal Benefits Unit at the Paris consulate. https://fr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/social-security-administration/

I don't think you have to go in to the consulate to arrange for direct deposit of your US SS benefits. Just be aware that their phones are only open a couple hours a day on specific days of the week. I have found, however, that the FBU personnel are extremely helpful and easy to deal with.
Cheers,
Bev
Further to what Bev has said about the Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) at the US Consulate in Paris

  • One does not, happily, have to appear in person at the Federal Benefits Unit at the Paris Consulate. One can do everything by telephone. They are only open a few days per week and only in the morning. They are incredibly helpful.
  • The FBU recommends that one NOT go to the US Social Security website to begin receiving one’s pension in France.
  • Unhappily, we had already done that for my wife. Even though the website allows one to select the country in which one resides, her US Social Security dossier was sent to a small town in Virginia that has the same zipcode as the postal code of our village in France. It languished there with no action for 3 months or more.
  • We phoned US Social Security...finally...to ask where her pension was and they recommended (thank goodness) that we call the FBU.
  • We called the FBU and the person with whom we spoke was able to determine that my wife’s paperwork was in Virginia within a few minutes. He explained that he’d request it from them and that it would take a month or more to arrive. He kept us updated on his progress by email throughout (I believe he should be canonized...he is amazing!).
  • At the same time, he asked if I were eligible to apply for my pension. I said I was. He recommended I do it on the phone with him. I did...it required about 10 minutes. My first pension payment arrived at our bank in France a month later. My wife’s payments started 2 or 3 months later. Happily, she received an initial payment of 6 months worth of her pension so it caught her up from the time she’d originally applied.

When we applied for our 10 year carte de sejour this year, I called the same man back. As soon as I said, “10 year carte de sejour”, he asked if we needed to provide proof of our income. I said we did, he said he’d send us a report, which he did on the FBU letterhead.

All the FBU folks with whom I’ve spoken are French, they are incredibly knowledgeable about US benefits, and they are incredibly generous.

Best of luck.

Ray
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
Have to laugh because FATCA pretty much now applies to everyone, though you don't yet have to fill in a form. In fact my Aussie bank only yesterday required me to provide information because of how this is being applied globally (not to mention the Royal Commission into Banking which is still underway in Australia and has included evidence and admissions that the country's major 4 banks have been embroiled in (very) dirty dealings, including money laundering and consequent scrambling by the banks and other financial institutions to try to get their houses in order.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
49,424 Posts
I can definitely second everything RayRay has said about the FBU. As it turns out, we wound up dealing with the same person as they did - though in our case we did have to put in a personal appearance at the consulate (because I was claiming a spouse benefit for my NRA spouse and that involves getting him a US SSN, etc, etc.).

One thing to be aware (wary?) of is setting up one of those My SocialSecurity accounts online. You are required to have a US "mailing address" but what they use that for I have no idea (and that may have led to the problems Ray had in getting his wife's benefit transferred to France). OTOH, I did have to call the SS Admin in the US to set up my benefits and I have to say that the woman I dealt with there was very helpful - and actually she was the one to recommend contacting the FBU in Paris when I mentioned that I wanted my benefits direct deposited here in France. (You can't actually do that, I guess, from the MySocialSecurity site.)

When you get closer to time, give a shout. There are all sorts of little "tricks and tips" to tapping your US IRA and/or 401K funds to the best advantage.
Cheers,
Bev
 
1 - 20 of 38 Posts
Top