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Guide to the operation of the banking system in France for foreign investors


As a real estate lawyer in France, I understand that foreign investors may face challenges in navigating the French banking system. Therefore, I have compiled a guide to help foreign investors understand the operation of the banking system in France.

Overview of the French Banking System

The French banking system is regulated by the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR) which is under the control of the Banque de France, the central bank of France. The ACPR is responsible for regulating banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions. There are several types of banks in France, including retail banks, investment banks, and cooperative banks.

Opening a Bank Account

To open a bank account in France, foreign investors will need to provide proof of identity, proof of address, and proof of income. The bank will also conduct a credit check before opening an account. It is important to note that some banks may require additional documentation or have specific requirements for foreign investors. Therefore, it is recommended that investors research different banks and their requirements before choosing a bank.

Banking Services and Products

French banks offer a variety of banking services and products, including checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, loans, and mortgages. It is important to compare the different products and services offered by different banks to find the best fit for your needs.

Fees and Charges

French banks charge fees for their services, such as account maintenance fees, ATM fees, and wire transfer fees. It is important to understand the fees and charges associated with banking in France to avoid unexpected costs. Some banks may also require a minimum balance or charge penalties for insufficient funds.

Currency Exchange

Foreign investors may need to exchange currency when conducting business in France. It is important to understand the fees and exchange rates associated with currency exchange. Some banks offer currency exchange services, while others may require investors to use a third-party service.


In addition to the above points, it is important to note that the French banking system has strict anti-money laundering regulations. Therefore, investors may be required to provide additional documentation or undergo additional scrutiny to ensure compliance with these regulations.

It is also recommended that foreign investors seek the assistance of a financial advisor or real estate lawyer who is familiar with the French banking system. This can help ensure that investors make informed decisions and avoid potential pitfalls.

About the Author :

Business lawyers, bilingual, specialized in acquisition law; Benoit Lafourcade is co-founder of Delcade lawyers & solicitors and founder of FRELA; registered as agents in personal and professional real estate transactions. Member of AAMTI (main association of French lawyers and agents).

FRELA : French Real Estate Lawyer Agency, specializing in acquisition law to secure real estate and business transactions in France.

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