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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If we are moving to France, how important is it to have a bank account set up before our house purchase here completes? Will we be able to transfer electricity, water, insurance accounts etc over to us from the vendor before our French bank account is fully open?

We are in the process of buying a house in France, with the intention of moving here once we've sold our house in the UK. The house purchase seems to be going well (touch wood), so we've started trying to open a bank account, but it's proving a bit of a Kafkaesque experience (as I suppose I might have expected from various previous posts on the forum!).

Some banks flat out refused to countenance opening an account if we didn't have a utility bill in our name for an address in France. Others said there was a two week wait to get an appointment to discuss opening an account. We decided to go to BNP Paribas, in the hope that the fact they have offices in London would mean they would be more likely to understand foreign account holders. We got an appointment the next day, and a very polite and helpful lady agreed that she was happy to open an account for us with a UK address. Unfortunately, she encountered some problem with the account opening software on her computer (which she says is affecting all new customers in that branch, not just us) and she can't progress our application without getting this resolved. For the last couple of days she has kept "hoping" that the software would start working, but she says it may be a while before she's ready for us to come back and sign everything.

I've thought about giving up and trying another bank - possibly even the Banque Postale, but we're out of time on this trip as we're heading home today.

The next time we were planning to be in France was signing the Acte Authentique for the house purchase. What I want to know is whether we'll be OK to wait until then to have another go at opening a bank account, or whether not having an account beforehand is going to create problems with utility bills etc. It seems a bit bonkers to schedule another trip here _just_ to open a bank account, but I'd rather do that than discover we can't get water/electricity/internet turned on at the house until we have a bank account!

Any advice much appreciated.
 

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You might want to pose the question to the notaire that is handling the transaction. S/he may have some way around the ever-present complications of opening an account from "overseas."
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Try HSBC.
+1

We opened an account with HSBC a couple of months before we finally moved to France, on a quick visit to look for apartments. It took all of 30 minutes in the branch in Paris. All we needed was ID, some evidence that we were moving to France (employer letter) and proof of current address, which was in Australia at the time.

That said, several months later after we moved we asked if we could move the account to a branch closer to home (HSBC branch next door to apartment) and were refused because our account was "too new". :confused:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the advice. I have an account with HSBC in the UK so I wonder if they will be able to help setting up an account in France (or even a Euro-denominated account in the UK perhaps).
 

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Thanks for the advice. I have an account with HSBC in the UK so I wonder if they will be able to help setting up an account in France (or even a Euro-denominated account in the UK perhaps).
Quite possibly. I seem to recall that one of the HSBC people we spoke to at the time (can't remember if in Australia for France) offerred to assist in account creation in the other country.
 

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If you're thinking about HSBC, just be aware that their branches tend to be clustered in and around the larger towns. In France you generally need a bank located "conveniently" (however defined) to where you live and/or work and out in the boonies somewhere, you could be pretty far from a branch.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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There are plenty of people who move to France without having a French bank account. Talk to the Notaire or even the agents if your buying through one for advice. Personally I'd recommend having an account local to your new home in France, it can make a big difference.
 

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If you're thinking about HSBC, just be aware that their branches tend to be clustered in and around the larger towns. In France you generally need a bank located "conveniently" (however defined) to where you live and/or work and out in the boonies somewhere, you could be pretty far from a branch.
Cheers,
Bev
I am not sure why you would need to be near a branch. I have been here a year now and the only times I have been into a branch was when I opened the account and when I picked up my cheque book several weeks later. It has been over 10 months since I have set foot in one. All of my banking I can do online or on the phone.
 

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THe documents that you will receive from the Notaire should be sufficient to prove that you (will) have an address in France. Banks and Notaires work together very closely! You may find it easier if you chose a bank in the same town as the Notaire.

You may want to give some thought how you will transfer the house purchase funds from the UK. You will have to make a decision re timing of exchange rates. Notaires insist nowadays that all significant transactions are by credit transfer (virement).

You will need to prove that you havehouse insurance at the time of purchase...So you need to be able to pay for that, and a lot of other things....I'd get a Fr bank account as soon as possible.

DejW
 

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My wife and I are purchasing a home in the Midi-Pyrénées. We're doing a mortgage with Crédit Agricole Nord Midi-Pyrénées. They have an English speaking branch in Rodez. I think they required us to open a bank account with them as well, alongside the mortgage. When we were in town for the compromis, we went to the office to open the account though we could have done it remotely with a few more documents. They just needed copy of passport, copy of birth certificates, no sort of catch 22 docs that we would have to be living there to provide.
 

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If you've got a mortgage from the bank then you have already passed "the test" and opening an account is more of a formality.

The original poster just wanted to open an account...and that can be more difficult. A mortgage sold is a brownie point for the directeur. An expat account without a mortgage might spell difficulties, which is why some expat have a problem opening an account here.

DejW

My wife and I are purchasing a home in the Midi-Pyrénées. We're doing a mortgage with Crédit Agricole Nord Midi-Pyrénées. They have an English speaking branch in Rodez. I think they required us to open a bank account with them as well, alongside the mortgage. When we were in town for the compromis, we went to the office to open the account though we could have done it remotely with a few more documents. They just needed copy of passport, copy of birth certificates, no sort of catch 22 docs that we would have to be living there to provide.
 
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