Banking in France: Crédit Agricole speaks your language.

Opening and using a bank account

Even if you’re away from home, you’ll feel at home with Crédit Agricole. Our friendly branch staff all speak English and our accessible current accounts are easy to use. You can even apply for our products from your home country!

No need to speak french

We understand that it’s important for you to be able to discuss your financial matters in your own language. You don’t need to worry about speaking to us in French – all of our staff speak English.

What do I need to open a bank account?

To open a current account with Crédit Agricole, you need to provide:

  • Proof of identity: a valid passport or a valid photo card driving licence (full or provisional).
  • Proof of your French residential address: a current council tax bill or current bank statements or credit/debit card statements issued by a regulated UK or European financial institution or a current utility bill (no more than three months old).

Good to know :

You don’t need to come to France to open your French bank account: everything can be done by post. Perfect if you’re someone who likes to plan ahead!

What are the benefits of having a French bank account?

With a current account from Crédit Agricole, you can:

  • Use our network of cash machines and branches to withdraw cash and make payments in France and abroad,
  • Pay French bills,
  • Use a French chequebook.

Using your French bank account:

Every country has its quirks. Read our quick guide to “making payments” to learn how to use your French cheque book and pay bills.

  • Making payments
  • If you’re thinking about employing help (a gardener, a cleaner, a child-minder...) you’ll want to find out about the “cheque emploi service universel”. It might just be the answer to your prayers!
  • Paying for services

Making Payments

How would you like to pay for that?

Eating out, shopping at markets, going on holiday, paying bills… some payments are more enjoyable than others, but they all have to be made. With Crédit Agricole, you can choose the means of payment that suits your situation.

1.Debit card

For daily purchases and cash withdrawals, most people turn to their debit card. Debit cards are a quick easy, and convenient way to pay, especially when they incorporate a Moneo electronic wallet.

Anything in particular you should know about French debit cards? First, they use chip-and-pin security. Instead of signing a receipt, you simply enter your pin code to validate your payment. Remember, always keep your pin code safe!

Second, to help keep your account secure, the bank generates your pin code. This means you can’t use your birth date as your pin code, or use the same code for several cards! If you have trouble remembering your pin, your bank adviser can help you to change it.

Third, you can choose between direct debit and deferred debit cards. If you have a direct debit card, the money is deducted immediately from your account. With a deferred debit card, all of the payments you make are grouped and deducted in a single payment at the end of the month.

A credit card can come in handy too…

MasterCard credit cards from Crédit Agricole offer a range of benefits, from great travel insurance to on-call personal assistance. Find out which of our cards best suits your lifestyle:

2.Fixed direct debit/standing order

Many companies, particularly utility companies like EDF and Gaz de France, welcome payments by direct debit.

How it works ?

Paying by direct debit is simple and efficient. Here’s what you need to do:

  • 1. Contact the company by phone (you can also send a letter).
  • 2. Decide how often you want to pay (usually you choose to pay every 6 months, every 2 months or monthly).
  • 3. Provide your bank information. In France, this information is contained on your RIB (Relevé d’Identité Bancaire). The RIB shows:
    • your bank code (5 figures: for the Credit Agricole XXXX the bank code is XXXXX),
    • your code de guichet (also 5 figures: for the Credit Agricole XXXX this is 000XX),
    • your clé RIB (2 figures).
  • 4. The company will send you a letter setting out the amounts that will be taken from your account by direct debit and the dates on which the direct debits will be made. Cut off the “Autorisation de Prélèvement” (direct debit agreement) and send it to your local branch.

The company will withdraw the agreed amount on the dates stated.

Good to know :

You can obtain a RIB from your bank adviser, a cashier at your branch or from a cash machine that offers this facility.

3.Money transfer

You can use our online banking services to transfer money between different Crédit Agricole accounts.

How it works ?

Making a bank-to-bank transfer in France

Fax or post: send us your request in writing: one of our advisers will contact you to confirm the transaction. Please note that transfer requests must be made in writing and cannot be made by telephone. You will be charged a fee for this service: please consult our rates for further information. Online: if you have signed up for Crédit Agricole online banking, you can use this service to transfer funds to another French bank free of charge.

Making an international transfer

Fax or post: send us your request in writing: one of our advisers will contact you to confirm the transaction. Please note that international transfers must be made in writing and cannot be made by telephone. You will be charged a fee for this service: please consult our rates for further information. Online: if you have signed up for Crédit Agricole online banking, you can send us your request by email. One of our advisers will contact you to confirm your request. You will be charged a fee for this service: please consult our rates for further information.

4.Check book

Cheques are still a popular means of payment in France. Be careful though: the rules in France are quite strict. See below for details…

How it works ?


You can use cheques to make payments anywhere in France. Cheque guarantee cards do not exist in France, but you might be asked to provide proof of identity.


You can use your cheque book to withdraw cash in any Crédit Agricole branch in France. You can withdraw up to 400 euros in any 7-day period.

How to cancel a cheque ?

Under French law a cheque is equivalent to cash. As such, cheques cannot be cancelled except in exceptional circumstances. A cheque can only be cancelled if it is lost, stolen or deemed fraudulent by the bank. If your cheque book is lost or stolen:

- call us on +33 (0) 5 65 75 75 33 or

- send us a fax on +33 (0) 5 65 75 52 01.

Good to know :

French legislation with regard to unpaid cheques is particularly strict: be careful! You must have funds available on your account when you write a cheque. The bank is legally obliged to report unpaid cheques to the Bank of France and to forbid the client from writing any more cheques until funds are available. For the first incident, the customer has 60 days to rectify the situation. If the client takes more than 60 days to rectify the situation or if a further incident occurs, the customer has to pay a fine to the Bank of France. The customer also risks being placed on the Bank of France blacklist (this is known as being “interdit bancaire”) and forbidden from writing cheques for the next five years!

5.Standing order (TIP)

You can also use a standing order (known in France as a TIP: Titre Interbancaire de Paiement) to make frequent payments, such as your phone bill or gas bill. The TIP is a payment order attached to your bill.

How it works ?

Setting up payments by TIP

  • 1. Remove the TIP from the bill and send it to the company with a copy of your RIB.
  • 2. The company will deduct the payment from your bank account and retain your bank details to make it easier for you to authorise future payments.
  • 3. In the future, your bank details will appear automatically on your bills from this company. Check that your bank details are correct, then remove the TIP from the bill, sign and date in the box provided and return the TIP to the company. If you wish to pay your bill from a different bank account, just send back a new RIB with your TIP.

Paying for services

Enjoy a helping hand, avoid the red tape

Gardening, childcare, French lessons, cleaning… a wide range of part-time services can be paid for with the “Cheque emploi service universel”.

What is the “Cheque emploi service universel”?

The “Cheque emploi service universel” (also known as “Cesu”) is a cheque book that helps employers avoid the red tape associated with Social Security contributions, monthly pay-slips and URSSAF registration numbers.

Cheques can be used to replace standard contracts for part-time work of less than 8 hours per week or fewer than four consecutive weeks per year. They are an easy way to pay if you need to employ a home-help or child-minder or pay for a few private French lessons.

Where can I get a cheque book?

You can order a free cheque book through Crédit Agricole. Simply register for this service and fill in a direct debit authorisation form. We’ll send you a cheque book with 20 cheques and a set of pre-printed envelopes. The accompanying information pack includes a useful guide to drawing up contracts.

How it works ?

  • 1. Fill in a cheque for the net amount. Remember to include 10% for paid holidays.
  • 2. Complete the cheque tag with all the necessary administrative information (the number of hours, the hourly net salary, the total net amount paid, etc.)
  • 3. Send this tag to your URSSAF agency within 15 days.
  • 4. Any charges payable by you, the employer, will be calculated using this information and debited directly from your account.
  • 5. The URSSAF will also send a pay slip to the employee.

Good to know :

The CESU website provides useful hints and tips about using cheques. You can use the online portal to send administrative information directly to the URSSAF, obtain instant updates on charges that will be deducted from your account, and print statements for your tax declaration.