When we first started the buying process we went in with our eyes open. We had been to a lecture about the pitfalls of buying a house/plot in France so knew some of the things to look out for and we also read this guide. The guy giving the lecture gave some very sound advice, such as making sure you buy your Euros at the right time so that you don’t up paying more for your property than you had budgeted for. It is amazing what a few points in the pound/euro can do to the cost. It is therefore worth shopping around or more preferably, as we did, use a specialist currency broker. If your experience is anything like ours, they will call you a lot. However, so far, although they will benefit from our business and the good exchange rates as well, I think they are being helpful by telling us when there is a ‘spike in the market’. I will not advertise any one broker on this blog, but there is plenty of advice here. This site is advertised by one of them, but not the one we used.
So although we had thought a lot about what we needed to do and taken lots of advice, one of the things I hadn’t thought about was opening a French bank account. For some, this may seem obvious and to me it would have done if we were living in France. What I hadn’t factored in was that when we start paying the taxe fonciere it would have to come from a French bank account! Our Notaire also needed a copy of our RIB number or ‘Releve d’Identite Bancaire’ to complete the sale.
Opening a French bank account is not nearly as difficult as you might think. They do need a lot of information from you (as do our banks) and some of this has to be certified (copy of driving licence and copy of passport) so if you can do it in person while in France it is a lot easier. However, we did most of it via the internet and post. Whichever bank you chose, you will most likely need the following;
Certified copies of your passports or identity card (by a lawyer, a police officer or by your bank Manager)
Certified copies of your driving licenses, (lawyer, (by a lawyer, a police officer or by your bank Manager)
Copy of your recent utility bill,(less than 3 months old), water or electricity or gas
Copy of our last 3 payslips
Copy of your last 3 bank statements
Copy of your last P60’s
An original blank cheque with a line drawn through it
An original reference letter from your bank manager
We were able to fit in a visit to the bank when we were last in France which helped with some of the last few bits, such as confirming how many debit cards we needed, did we want a cheque book, did we want internet banking etc? It was all very straight forward – all we need to do now is transfer €100 and we will receive our French bank card!
It may not be that surprising for you to hear that all the issues we had with providing the information and getting our account opened came from our UK banks! French bureaucracy….what French bureaucracy?