Finance your stay : a realistic budget

Opening a bank account

You will need a bank account in your own name for several reasons :
To have a bank card and a cheque-book
An accommodation grant and refund of medical expenses by LMDE or SMERRA will be transferred to your account automatically.
Salaries are paid either by cheque or by automatic transfer, never in cash.
You generally need a cheque-book to pay the rent or the electricity.

All foreign residents who have lived in France for more than 3 months can open a bank account. However, many banks are reticent if you are here for less than 3 months.
The most important types of account are the current account (this doesn’t bring you any interest) and the savings account, which enables you to gain interest.
Most of the time you will have to actually go the bank or to the automatic till for banking operations. Banking by internet or telephone is gradually developing. Banks are usually open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 8 or 9 am to 6 pm (they also close from 12 noon to 1.30 pm)
Banks are often closed on Monday and on Saturday afternoon.

How to open a bank account.
Go to the bank and make an appointment with an advisor.
You will need to show :
Your identity card or passport
Your resident’s card
Proof of your address, usually a rent receipt, a phone bill, an electricity or gas bill with your name on it.
The day you open an account, you will need to put 15 euros minimum on it.
Once the account is open you will receive a cheque-book within 10 days (usually free of charge) and a bank card (this will cost between 15 and 40 euros).

Managing your account : be careful not to be overdrawn !
If you spend more money than you have on your account, you will have to pay expenses known as ‘agios’, and these are usually quite expensive. If you are overdrawn to often, the bank can ask you to return your cheque-book and bank-card !

If you lose your cheque-book or bank-card, or if they are stolen :
Contact your bank as quickly as possible to stop them being used. If the bank is closed, call the number on your contract to let them know your cheque-book or bank card has disappeared. Contact the bank again the next day to confirm this and send them the signed document they will have given you.
Your means of payment will automatically be stopped so that nobody else can use your account. If you find your card again once you have told the bank, it is too late ! You will have to have a new bank-card.

Receiving money from abroad : the Post Office has a Western Union facility for transferring money quickly and safely. You do not need an account with them to use this facility :the money is given to the recipient in cash.

Page 1 : A realistic Budget
Page 2 : Opening a bank account
Page 3 : Study Grants
Page 4 : Having a job


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