Skip to main content

How to Open a Business Bank Account in France

How to Open a Business Bank Account in France

Registering a business in France and opening a bank account essential steps to start investing in France as a non-resident. What do you need to open a business bank account? The procedure will differ according to whether you have a business already registered in France or not. To guide you through the process, we have listed the key steps below. Make sure you contact Choose Paris Region for local banking support or read through our guide book that includes more information about setting up a bank account and operational tips on how to invest in Paris Region.

Do You Need a French Bank Account and How Long Does It Take?

In France, all incorporated businesses must open a professional bank account. The steps differ according to whether your business is already registered in France and /or you have a French address (rental or property).

  • Businesses already established in France with a K-bis can create an account directly after the Know Your Customer (KYC) validation process.
  • Businesses setting up in France for the first time must go through the Know Your Customer (KYC) validation process and the certificate of blocked capital/K-bis registration.

The estimated time needed will vary depending on the banking institution, but one thing is certain – preparing for the business account opening well in advance and arriving to the appointment with all the necessary documents and notarized/validated information will greatly speed up the process.

For Businesses Already Registered in France

Shop Around!

Look at two or three banks to find the best rates. Prepare a list of any special bank services that your company requires such as liability insurance, point of sale terminal, credit cards etc. and compare the advantages/disadvantages.

Perhaps the biggest difference in banking is that same day walk-in appointments are not a common practice in France. Scheduled appointments are the standard when opening a bank account in France so make sure to contact the bank of your choice well in advance. A scheduled in-person or face-to-face video meeting at the bank will be required at least once during the process.

Know Your Customer (KYC)

When opening a bank account in France, in-person/face-to-face meetings serve a very important role. It is part of the Know Your Customer (KYC) process and allows banks to get a clear insight in who they are working with. Ultimately, the meeting will help determine whether the bank will accept to establish an account with the business. To avoid any extra costs and delays it is best to research what the specific requirements are before any meeting.

As a formal introduction provide a short business plan (1 or 2 pages) summarizing your finances and the direction you are looking to take your business. The specific documents required to open a professional bank account vary depending on your bank and business type, but most ask for the following:

  • The Financial/Business plan
  • Articles of Association/Bylaws
  • Organization/Structure chart including Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO)
  • Certificate of the register of UBO
  • The Balance Sheet/Profit & Loss Account for the last 2 years
  • A company presentation document and/or website

The “Right to an Account” procedure

If the bank refuses your request to open a bank account, document the refusal and use the “Right to an Account” procedure. With this procedure the Banque de France designates a commercial bank in which your business may open an account. However, the “Right to an Account” procedure should be used as a last resort as it is time consuming.

Once the KYC process has been approved and validated, businesses with a K-bis registration in France can proceed to open a professional bank account. However, businesses setting-up in France for the first time must go through a special registration process highlighted below.

Registering a Business in France for the First Time

What documents will you need?

Numerous International Banks Already Have Branches/Partners/Networks present in France. If your home bank falls under this category, it may save you valuable time by just contacting them and asking about the appropriate transfer procedure.

Below is a list of the most common requirements that need to be presented at your first bank meeting. Certifying your company’s articles of association/bylaws and confirming your presence in France is the first step to opening a bank account.

Key documents to bring to the first appointment are thus:

  • Passport and Tax Identification Number (of people entitled to the account)
  • Business Plan/Financial Forecasts
  • Certificate of incorporation
  • Articles of association/Bylaws
  • Latest annual return
  • Board resolution appointing the legal representative
  • Latest financial statements
  • Document precisely detailing the type of legal entity(structure under French law or international law)
  • Proof of the registered office of the French company

For people living in France (such as UBO and legal representatives)

  • Proof of address
  • Proof of Tax Identification Number

Please note that providing proof of address in France is essential. Only specific documents are accepted so be sure to obtain physical copies of your lease/domiciliation and utility bill (EDF Electricity, Water, Gas, Landline Phone). Tax returns and mobile phone bills are usually not accepted as an acceptable proof of residency.

What is the K-bis?

To open a business account in France you must have a “K-bis". The K-bis is the document that serves as the legal identity card of the company and validates its branch status in France. The bank plays a role in the registration process, thus scheduling an appointment for the K-bis approval is a crucial step. Make sure you come prepared to the meeting with hard copies of the necessary documents requested. Also, if you aren’t prepared to have the conversation in French, bring along a translator or a French-speaking person.

At the meeting, the bank will verify the articles of association/bylaws and open a special type of account designed to hold the necessary funds until your account is open. The funds will thus be frozen and not available for commercial transactions as required by French business law.

Once the required social capital amount has been transferred to this new company account, the bank will then verify that the source has come from the shareholders (as mentioned in the articles of association/bylaws). After everything is approved, the bank will issue a Certificate of Blocked Capital (Attestation de blocage de capital social) declaring that the exact amount of share capital has been wired into the capital deposit account. Your lawyer or accountant will need this certificate to complete the registration process at the Chamber of Commerce (Registre du commerce et des sociétés).

Once your company has been incorporated, you will be issued a K-bis form with a unique 9-digit identification SIREN number. This number, along with a copy of the final signed versions of the articles of association/bylaws, will enable you to open a business account. With the K-bis, the funds will be transferred to an active account and the special holding account will be closed.

The Vetting Process

In comparison with the U.S., the vetting process takes place before the opening of the account, businesses are given a greater sense of security knowing that their profile has been properly inspected and approved. Thus, accounts in France are more established and less likely to be unexpectedly closed.

Online Banking

Another alternative is the online banking option. Online Banking provides online and financial benefits such as no transaction or account management fees. There are even some online banks that can issue the certificate required for incorporated business registration. Make sure you enquire about these options at your in-house bank appointment and do not hesitate to contact Choose Paris Region for local support. We work with a range of selected partners who can guide you through the process of setting up an account.

You can also download our guide to starting a business in Paris Region.

Choose Paris Experts

Olivier Allegret

Head of Client Solutions