In my first week of living in Paris, I seemed to learn how to do this the hard way. I recall one Friday afternoon meandering back and fourth to different banks on the Champs Elysées, trying to get the message across that I was a stagiaire for only six months, only to be turned away saying I wasn’t eligible. One even said I had to pay a deposit of €10,000 to open the account, but rest assured it would be paid back to me after my six-month internship was over. I looked at the banker as if to say “do I really look like I have 10 grand to spare??” and at that point I knew there was something I was doing wrong here. After a chat with my boss and several other English friends also living in Paris who had been through this process already, I went to a bank in Opéra near to where I work and put my case forward.
I’m with the bank CIC, and the CIC bank in Opéra was very diligent, no hassle. I told them I was a stagiaire, here for 6 months and wanted to open an account. They told me no problem, gave me a time for an appointment, and a slip of paper saying what I needed to bring with me:
- your passport
- attéstation d’hébergement or accommodation contract
- attéstation de travail or certificate of employment (signed proof of payment from your workplace)
- contrat de travail or work contract
Like the CAF, they also asked for proof of payment from my previous job, but because I told them I’m a student and have been at university for the last two years, they said I can just bring with me proof that I was a student, so I asked a professor at my university to quickly sign and send an attéstation d’étudiant which I brought with me.
The appointment itself took about half an hour, but if you’re better at French than I am, it may only take you 10-15 minutes. With just a few documents to sign, and a few details to give such as my email address, phone number and address of where I was living in France, I was good to go. My debit card was available to pick up from the bank about 10 days later.
While waiting for my card, like all banks I was sent letters welcoming me and thanking me for opening an account, a letter where I received my pin and a separate one with my carte de clés personnelles. This is basically what helps you to make payments and transfers online, I believe it acts as a card reader.
I pay a small fee of €3 a month, just to pay for my card, but I know other stagiaires that have gone with other banks such as Sécurité Générale which had no extra costs, and La Banque Postale is also supposed to be good if you’re only living and working in France for a short time.