That is la banque. Or for all of you English speakers, the bank.
Having worked in finance, I was interested in how the banking system here in France would be different to what we are used to in New Zealand. Do you want to know what I have discovered? Two words: cheques and fees.
Opening a bank account
One of the first things we did when arriving was to open a French bank account. This meant signing about six different forms, an hour long appointment and the account took about two weeks to be operational.
This is because the bank need to send out a registered letter to confirm you live at the address given. (A courier delivers the letter and you have to sign it).
We had to request to have a bank card. This is called a carte bleue and is part of the Visa network. It is usually a debit card, meaning the money needs to be in your account in order to purchase something (as opposed to credit card). There is a monthly fee for having a card also.
You can also request to have a cheque book. In New Zealand, it is almost unheard of to have one these days so we were not sure at first. It has been handy in France as some merchants do not offer payment by carte bleue or only above a certain amount (from 5 to 20 euros).
Once the account and card were up and running, we attempted to make a purchase over the internet. Internet purchases were not authorised with our card. First, we needed a French cell phone number in order to receive secure codes when we buy things online.
There are also limits on how much we can purchase with the card in a month. Each cardholder has a limit. If the limit is reached, the card will decline (Embarassing!).
What you will need:
- piece d'identite: ID, usually your passport including,
- visa de long sejour: long stay visa
- justificatif de domicile: proof of address (utilities bill if you have one, otherwise should be able to use contract for accommodation)
- information on your earnings and assets in original country ie bank statements