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Bank account

If you are moving to France for a period of more than three months, opening a bank account will facilitate your everyday life: depositing your salary, grant, etc., being reimbursed for healthcare costs, making purchases, etc.

  • According to French law, it is not possible to open a bank account from abroad. When you arrive in France, you will need to visit your chosen bank in person to open an account.
  • Most French banks refuse to open a bank account for persons staying for a short time. If you are coming to France for a period of less than three months and will be paid by a French organization, we advise you to negotiate the payment of your remuneration to a bank account in your home country and well before your departure.
  • If you live in France with your partner it could be a good idea to open a joint account (with both your names onto the account) or to open two accounts. It is indeed mandatory for both partners to have his/her name onto the bank account for many procedures (social security...).

Banking services

When opening your bank account, you will be offered various free and fee-paying services. You will have to decide which services are best suited to your situation. However, Espace Ulys recommends that you opt for the following minimum services to facilitate your everyday life in France:

Current account

A current account (compte courant/compte à vue/compte de dépôt) is for everyday banking operations such as debit card payments, cash withdrawals and transfers to other accounts. A current account is not to be confused with a savings account, which allows you to save money.
A current account must be regularly supplied with funds for you to be able to carry out your purchases. For this reason, your income is usually paid into this account.

Management fees are generally deducted automatically every month from this account by your bank. For this reason, it can be a good idea to compare the management fees of several different banks before making your selection.

Bank account details (RIB)

A relevé d’identité bancaire or RIB (bank account details) is like an identity card for your current account. The RIB allows you send your bank account information for transfers or debits. You may be asked for a RIB by your employer for the payment of your salary, by the French national healthcare system or your complementary health insurance provider for reimbursement of your healthcare costs, or by your mobile phone operator for the direct debit of your phone service fees from your current account (a very common practice in France).

The RIB is still frequently used in France, but it is slowly being replaced by the IBAN international standard.

You can request a RIB from your bank free of charge or print a RIB at home if you have online banking.

It may be requested by your employer, by the French administrations or by service providers for your payments or refunds.

Payment cards

A payment card is used to make purchases in shops, to consult your balance and to withdraw cash from dispensers. The card is directly linked to your current account.

The payment card is generally a paying service. The associated fee is generally included in the monthly banking charges deducted from your current account by the bank. Certain payment cards also incur supplementary fees for banking operations carried out abroad or in France via other banks. Be sure to ask for details regarding all such fees!

There are several different payment cards available:

  • Immediate debit cards: Your purchase amounts are debited the same day as the transactions.
  • Deferred debit cards: The total amount of your transactions is automatically debited once a month, at the end of the month. This type of payment card is generally more expensive than an immediate debit card.
  • Credit cards: Your purchases are not debited to your bank account, but to a renewable line of credit. You must reimburse your credit payments either once a month (as with a deferred debit card) or via multiple payments (with interest).

In France, you will often be asked for your credit card (carte de credit) or your debit card (carte bleue) when making purchases. In practice, these terms designate all types of payment card (immediate debit, deferred debit and credit cards).

Cheque book

Cheques are still quite commonly used in France. You will often be offered, even requested, to pay by cheque, for example when registering with an athletic club or signing up for a French course. Certain housing-related payments (deposit, guarantee, rent) can also be made by cheque. For these reasons, we recommend that you order a cheque book when opening your current account.

You can also make your everyday purchases by cheque. However, shopkeepers are increasingly reluctant to accept cheques due to the risk of non-payment. Some shops do accept cheques upon presentation of one or two ID cards.

Cheque books are generally provided free of charge but are not automatically issued. You must make a request when opening your account.

Online banking

This service is optional, but it will simplify your life by allowing you to carry out bank transfers and to manage your account(s) from home. Without this option, you will be required to go to the bank to carry out these operations.

Our partners

Espace Ulys has made partnerships with two banks to help you in this regard.

These special offers and prices only apply through Espace Ulys support.

Crédit Mutuel Enseignant

Crédit Mutuel Enseignant welcomes you in 2 branches in Lyon:
  • Gerland - 179 avenue Jean Jaurès - Lyon 7ème
  • Bellecour - 3 rue Saint-Exupéry - Lyon 2ème
Services included in the banking offer:
  • An English-speaking dedicated contact,
  • Possibility to open an account for a short stay,
  • Possibility to use a temporary address,
  • A bank card with balance control,
  • An online customer account in English.
Single fare: 7,85€ per month

Additional services suggested:
  • Housing insurance and public liability insurance included: from 66€ per year,
  • Public liability insurance only: 48€ per year,
  • Internet box contract: from 29,99€ per month,
  • Mobile phone contract (non-binding offer): from 15,99€ per month.


HSBC welcomes you in its Bellecour branch: 18 place Bellecour - Lyon 2ème

Services included in the banking offer:
  • An English-speaking dedicated contact,
  • Possibility to open an account for a short stay,
  • Possibility to use a temporary address,
  • A bank card with balance control,
  • An online customer account in English.
Depending on your personal situation, fares may vary:
  • Students under 28 years old: 1€ per year,
  • 8 months stay or less: 4,05€ per month,
  • Stay over 8 months: 1€ for the first year, then 4,05€ per month