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TLDR: What online banks accept Americans without too much hassle?

What follows is my Fortuneo frustration:

After some online research it seemed to me that Fortuneo was probably the online bank for Americans. There are some others that immediately tell you that they don't take Americans while you're attempting to fill out the application. So I filled out the application, mailed in my papers and waited.

Of course, as always, the paperasse!

They asked for additional documentation in several waves.

First, July 10th: A RIB. Mailed in.

July 18th I get a call asking for my avis d'imposition. I explain that I do not have one, since I've only been in France for one year and as far I can see it's not required anyhow. They say they'll get back in touch.

Then nothing. For weeks. So I call in and they tell me they'll get back to me.

Another week goes by and I recieve another request:

- Une photocopie du document officiel indiquant que vous êtes un résident fiscal français à votre arrivé.

- Une photocopie de votre avis d'imposition 2016 sur les revenus 2015 ou votre avis d'imposition 2017 sur les revenus 2016 dans son intégralité (3 à 4 pages). Ce document peut être téléchargé sur le site internet des impôts dans votre espace : http//impôts.gouv.fr dans la rubrique « Consulter » (N’oubliez pas de modifier le type de document, les justificatifs et avis de situation ne valant pas avis d’impôts ou sans numéro de rôle ainsi que les déclarations de revenus ne sont pas acceptés).
WTF guys!?!? An official document "showing I am a fiscal resident upon my arrival"? What are they even talking about?
 

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Just took a look at the Fortuneo website and their pdf on "Conditions générales."

What I kind of suspect is that they want a document that shows that you are subject to French taxation as of the date that you "arrive" at their doorstep asking to open an account. Reading through their general conditions, there is something in there about affirming that you are "fiscally resident" in France and also telling them about any other country where you have tax obligations (along with the relevant taxpayer i.d. numbers and all). Further on in the general conditions, there is a rather nice section on FATCA, laying out exactly what their obligations are and what information they expect from an "American person." (It's more straight forward than what I've seen from other banks, so kudos!)

As far as the avis d'imposition, I know years ago when this online banking first started getting popular, I tried unsuccessfully to open an online bank account here. The problem seemed to be that they want (or possibly "need") for you to have some sort of a banking history here in France or at least that you have gone through one tax cycle - so they insist on the avis d'imposition to make sure you're legit.

My theory is that all this is part of the KYC (Know Your Customer) regulations.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I'll give you my sad tale of trying to open an account with online bank, Monabanq and other banks here in Paris.

On advice from another American who has an account with Monabanq, he told me to 'not' check the box that said you were American on the online application form. He further explained that he spoke with a representative and that's just 'an avoidance' thing where they weed Americans out b/c they don't like dealing with FATCA reporting. But, they will take Americans (obviously they took him) they just don't want a whole bunch? Otherwise, I completed the application truthfully just didn't check the box.

I sent my dossier with copies of my wife's and my American passports, W-9s, and all the other standard stuff - proof of habitation, etc. Everything was going fine, I thought I was going to be approved, even spoke with an english speaking rep who said everything seemed OK but then the 'lettre de refus' came. They didn't say why they don't have to it's a form letter to go to the Banque de France.

We've been to at least a half-dozen banks and they are very hung-up on the fact that we don't have any bills. We've rented an apt for 5-months through an agency that is all utilities inclusive. We show them the contract, we show them a quittance de loyer for the term, we show them the inventory list, we show them our one legitimate bill for rental insurance but it's just not good enough. One bank (HSBC) told us b/c my wife doesn't work we could not get an acct. We had a shot with BNP but after 2 months of waiting, I gave up.

Until today, but we'll see. BRED around the corner told us we needed a longer rental contract to prove our habitation rights - our current apt ends in late Sep and he wanted something a year or longer. I explained to him that we're looking for a new apt and these immobilier agents want to see a French bank acct in order to get an apt and rental contract - catch 22. Feeling desperate I went to my 'ugly American' side and told him that we could transfer a sizeable deposit to the acct next week and a regular sizeable amt each month. Showed him my Chas Schwab statement and another savings acct statement from another bank in the states, and that got his attention. We've got an appt for Monday to open the acct, so fingers crossed.

I don't know, you might try Monabanq - but I think I would call them and talk to someone. Tell them what you want and what documentation you have and see if they'll go for it.
 

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I don't get it. You say that you're not an American person, by not checking the box. Then you present your W-9, which is the main document asked for if you are an American person. I can't see how that would stand up to even the slightest scrutiny within the bank.

Note: I am not criticising you for not checking the box. I'll be doing the same thing. But I won't be using my US address or support documents.
 

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I don't get it. You say that you're not an American person, by not checking the box. Then you present your W-9, which is the main document asked for if you are an American person. I can't see how that would stand up to even the slightest scrutiny within the bank.

Note: I am not criticising you for not checking the box. I'll be doing the same thing. But I won't be using my US address or support documents.
Yes, sorry, didn't explain myself well. The American person who referred me (who actually sent me a Monabanq invite but after I'd applied) said that it was a 'system' check and not binding - all this info gathered from the Monabanq rep he spoke with. My US passport and W-9 in my dossier documented their files that I'm an American person, and they would certainly have to follow FATCA rules. My take is that they would rather deal with as few Americans as they can but do take on some. This is conjecture of course.

I did not directly give a US address, there's not one on the passport and the W-9 had my Paris address. They did want to see some financial wherewithal so I did submit US bank stmts, pension doc, that had my address that I keep there.

Is there a problem with revealing a US address on bank statements, supporting docs - would you not report this on your avis d'imposition? Haven't been here long enough to do one yet.
 

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I forgot to add that the American person who referred me was told by the Monabanq rep to include the W-9 with his dossier, and he told me to include my W-9 with mine.

I guess if you have another identity other than US and can prove financial resources outside the US then no need to check the box or submit any US documentation.

A bit confusing, sorry!
 

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On advice from another American who has an account with Monabanq, he told me to 'not' check the box that said you were American on the online application form.
Perhaps making a material omission in your application is not the best way to start a relationship with a bank.
 

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I would consider it another way:

Imposing an onerous, impertinent, over-reaching requirement from another country is not the best way for a bank to start a relationship with me.
 

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Perhaps making a material omission in your application is not the best way to start a relationship with a bank.
How is that an omission? They certainly knew I was a US person - submitted a W-9, copy of US passport, sources of US revenue, copy of last yr's 1040.

The info you submit online just gets you through the door. Then you submit a contract with a dossier. There was no deception, cheating, fraud, or 'material omission'

Why don't you go back and re-read the posts, before you accuse me of making a material omission.
 

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I would consider it another way:

Imposing an onerous, impertinent, over-reaching requirement from another country is not the best way for a bank to start a relationship with me.
I agree completely with what you say about the US regulations, but the disclosure requirement is not something that the french banks are imposing willi-nilli but rather is one of several requirements that are imposed on them with respect to accounts held by US nationals under inter-governmental anti-fiscal fraud agreements insisted upon by the US.

I don't know if failing to declare your citizenship on the on-line form prejudiced you or not, but I have found that it is best to turn square corners here.
 

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Let me just remind folks here that the banks in France report to the government of France (i.e. the Banque de France, to be exact). The Banque de France has issued rules for what information the banks here must obtain from new customers in order to be compliant with the FATCA regulations from the States. Other rules and regulations can vary on a bank by bank, or even a branch by branch basis.

French banking regulations are different from US banking regulations. OTOH, the information that the banks hand over to the Banque de France regarding the accounts of "American persons" is pretty innocuous. Yes, the FATCA regulations are overreaching, annoying and a general PITA to all concerned (customers AND the banks here). By lying about your status, or omitting to respond or whatever else, you only draw attention to yourself and justify the bank deciding to refuse your account application or close your existing account. And you make it that much more likely that the next American person to try to open an account will get turned down.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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The Banque de France has issued rules for what information the banks here must obtain from new customers in order to be compliant with the FATCA regulations from the States
Yep. They sold out under US pressure.

As did Australia. About every six months, for a few years, ANZ Bank sends me a letter saying something like "we believe you might be a US person - please check the box below and sign this letter and return it to us along with your SSN or similar".

I guess my US address on the dozen or so bank accounts I have with ANZ might be a giveaway.

Each time I receive this letter I tear it up and throw it away.

Last month I was in Australia, and went to a branch for something else. Prompted by his computer, the clerk printed out a similar form and said "you have to sign this". I said "no". He got that startled, rabbit-in-the-spotlight look that clerks get when something happens outside their regular ambit. He asked why, and I replied that it was none of the bank's business if I was a US person, I employed the bank to mind my money, provide credit and nothing else. After he recovered from my wilful display of impertinence, he typed into his computer "customer would not comply". We completed my other business, shook hands, and I left.
 

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Bellthorpe, it's up to you how you want to deal with this stuff. But at some point they could say that they are going to close out your account. Or maybe not.

At least a couple banks here in France have started sending out thinly disguised "FATCA letters" to all their customers, or to all their customers with foreign ties or birth places. Or some such criteria. They are covering their own butts - it really and truly has nothing to do with you. (And in fact, in some cases, they simply turn over the data on all accounts where the customer "refused to comply" - though granted, they won't have your US social security number to go with the data.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I work with FATCA crap every day for my clients. I can confirm that like Bellthorpe, I would like to tell them to shove it where the sun don't shine...

But NONE of my clients are Americans. And I can also confirm that some of those non Americans who refused to comply and were listed as non compliant have had accounts closed, assets frozen etc. More have been threatened with it soon.

The US used a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. They blackmailed banks by offering to cut off access to the Dollar if they did not comply with FATCA. As dollars are controlled by US central bank, this is not an idle threat. No access to dollars, means you cannot operate as a bank.

If you are American, they will come for you first. It is better to give them the info they seek, none of their business though it may be. Because the deliberately non compliant will be punished first.

And you will be punished by your bank getting rid of you to avoid fines from the US, not by the CIA, FBI or IRS breaking down your door.

I keep hoping that Trump will cancel FATCA in a tweet. But then I remember that he only cancels sensible bits of US legislation...

Kind regards


Ian
 

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I now have the answer to 'how to open a French bank account' - be a student.

My University has (as no doubt do others) an 'easy start' deal with four of the major banks. I rang a provided number, got a next day meeting, and was told over the phone "I need three things - your passport, your student card or certificat de scolarité, and proof of accommodation.

I loaded up my satchel with other documents that I thought might bolster my case. Proof of French assets (the Annecy apartment), proof of money in other countries (carefully not choosing US bank statements, rather Australian ones), birth certificate, wife's RIB, proof of paying French property taxes, proof of paying French utilities, my primary school report card saying that I was generally of a pleasing disposition.

The bank officer had no interest at all in any of that. He copied the three required documents, tapped on his computer for 20 minutes, gave me a page of RIBS, explained about the free money that the bank would put into each account, printed at least a ream of paper, and gave me a contract to sign.

All done. Oh, there was one last document. "Are you a US citizen?" I truthfully said "non", and he said "good, check this box and sign".

Done. Pick up debit card and cheque book next week.

Phoned Amex after that to make an appointment to get a credit card.

tldr; be a student.
 

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It sounds like you did everything absolutely by the book. If you're a student in France, you're resident here and so are not a US resident. The fact that you have a US SS number is irrelevant (if you do - can't recall if you do or not). You're not a US citizen so you're not "blacklisted."

The really tough cases are those where someone was born in the US but moved out with their parents as a baby.

Anyhow, good on you for having gotten through the bank account hassle.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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It sounds like you did everything absolutely by the book. If you're a student in France, you're resident here and so are not a US resident
Ah, well the US Government would not agree. There is the small matter of my green card, representing my status as a 'Lawful Permanent Resident'. But the French bank didn't ask me about that, so I did not tell any fibs.
 

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Indeed! As my Victorian (Queen, not state in Oz) born grandmother told me.....

The truth must always be told, but it is not necessary to tell all the truth.


Truthfully yours......DejW


Ah, well the US Government would not agree. There is the small matter of my green card, representing my status as a 'Lawful Permanent Resident'. But the French bank didn't ask me about that, so I did not tell any fibs.
 

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Ah, well the US Government would not agree. There is the small matter of my green card, representing my status as a 'Lawful Permanent Resident'. But the French bank didn't ask me about that, so I did not tell any fibs.
If you're going to be living outside the US for a year or more, you very well may find there is some question about your green card status on your return. (Happened to the wife of a friend of mine.) But hey, they didn't ask you about any green card, so you answered everything as you should have. No law requires you to volunteer information like that. (Though check the wording on the document you signed - that's the one place you could later run into problems.)
Cheers,
Bev
 
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