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How to switch your bank account in France

After choosing a new bank, the process of transferring your current account is straightforward. Savings accounts can be more complicated

Office table with computer and bank card. How to switch your bank account in France

Your new bank will handle the administrative side of switching bank accounts in France Pic: Ulvi Safari / Unsplash

Changing banks means moving your current and savings accounts from one provider to another. 

The process of moving a current account in France is much easier than it used to be.

Before, individuals had to manage the whole administrative procedure themselves, but in 2017 a measure was introduced to make things easier for account holders. 

The service d'aide à la mobilité bancaire allows your new bank to handle procedures such as transferring direct debit payments and regular money transfers, with your permission and at no cost to you.

These include payments for taxes, mutuelles, gas, electricity, subscriptions and more that are linked to your old account.

But, the bank you are moving to will only handle these if you give it authorisation to do so. If you prefer, you still have the option of managing these steps yourself.

How do I start the process of switching banks?

First you need to choose a new bank. Once you have told the new bank you wish to open an account with them, they will ask for your written permission to transfer your banking operations from your old bank to your new account.

If you give permission, your new bank will contact your existing bank to let it know you are closing your account and to initiate the process. 

Your new bank will ask you for a date on which you want your bank balance and other operations to be transferred.

How do I close my old bank account?

You can choose to keep your account with your old bank open, or to close it.

Your new bank can also handle this administrative step for you.

If you wish to close your old account, this can happen 30 days after you sign the transfer request with your new bank.

Once you have signed the request, the banks have 22 days in total to complete operations. 

Within two days your new bank must contact your old bank to request relative information from your account from the previous 13 months. Your old bank has five days to respond with the information.

Your new bank then has five days to contact people and organisations you hold direct debits and other regular money transfer agreements with, to make them aware of the change. They then have 10 days to update their systems with your new bank details.

After the transfer, your new bank will inform you of any outstanding payments on your old bank account. 

Your old bank will also keep you informed of any attempted operations in your closed account for 13 months after it has been closed.

Can I transfer a savings account?

The service d'aide à la mobilité bancaire does not apply to most savings accounts and investment products. 

Some of these cannot be transferred between banks, and others can only be transferred if a fee is paid.

For example, it is not possible to transfer a Livret A savings account from one bank to another, as you cannot have two Livret A accounts open at the same time while the transfer takes place.

Instead, you will have to transfer the funds out of your account and close it, before opening a new Livret A account to transfer funds into. You can only open a new Livret A account after the old one has been closed for 30 days.

However, CEL, PEL, PEA and compte-titres accounts can often be transferred to a new bank although there is likely to be a charge for this.

Assistance available for transferring and opening savings accounts varies from bank to bank. Your bank will be able to advise you on how they can help.

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