31 March 2009

Opening A Bank Account

Opening a bank account is one of the greatest achievements I've ever done in France. Of course, it wasn't an easy feat. My first attempt in HSBC was a failure. I was being required an Employment Contract of which I can not produce since I am a freelancer.

Societe Generale proved to be more accommodating than the popular international bank. Without a translator to help me, I tried to utter French words that sounded like "I would like to open a bank account..." I knew I sounded stupid, but next thing I know, I was being entertained by Mr. Regis, my conseiller. After a few blank looks, we agreed on an appointment (rendez-vous in French) for next day.

To open a bank account, these are the following requirements:
-passport copy
-Carte de Sejour
-latest EDF copy (some banks require EDF of 3 months)
-Attestation (if the EDF isn't under your name)
-landlord's ID (if the EDF isn't under your name)
-initial deposit

I was so ready to face the infamous French cold treatment but apparently, I didn't get one. Mr. Regis even exerted to speak English just so the alien me can open a bank account. I didn't even have the Recepisse of my Carte de Sejour yet, but he allowed me to have a new account.

TIP: Don't know what to say when expressing your wish to open a bank account? My French book suggests that you say, "Bonjour, je voudrais ouvrir un compte dans votre banque."


After your arrival in France and whenever your cells are ready, you must run to your nearest Prefecture, together with these requirements:

+a copy of your Birth Certificate (translated in French)
+proof of residency (a copy of EDF, Attestation from your landlord, a copy of your landlord's ID)
+4 passport size pictures
+a copy of your Tourist Visa and stamp of arrival
+a copy of your Lettre de delivrance de la Carte Competences et Talents par l'Ambassade de France aux Philippines
+self-addressed white envelope with stamp

I also recommend that you tag along a translator if you're not yet confident with your crude French. You might encounter a nasty officer, so be ready. It's better if you queue in early, especially in Paris, as there are also many immigrants like you who are working their way into the legal circle.

You've given all the right requirements if after a few minutes, the officer hands over your Recepisse De Demande De Carte de Sejour.

TIP: The translation of documents can be quite expensive. Through the recommendation of some acquaintances, I was able to find a translator who's charging only 24 euros per page:

AA Bhatti
18-20 Blvd. Saint-Denis 75010 PARIS
Metro: Strasbourg Saint-Denis (line 9, 4, 8)