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I just moved into France from another EU country. I wanted to open a bank account, but traditional banks want a confirmation of address (either from the landlord or e.g. an electricity bill), and online banks want you to have a French account or carte bancaire at least.

I'm staying at a hostel and in order to get an appartment, I need a bank account; this forms a cycle that I can't enter just now. How should I proceed?

  • Related: similar question about the UK – choster Mar 12 '14 at 23:04
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    Sometimes it depends on your communication skills though, I got one created with the hotel address (Beside I do have a job contract). – hB0 Mar 24 '14 at 8:37
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    @hB0 And my friend told the bank that she won't leave the office until they open the account, and she promised that she'll let them know the address in a week. And it worked ;) – yo' Mar 24 '14 at 9:36
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It's illegal for a bank to refuse you as a customer, even if you are illegally on french territory for example. If a bank do so, you can call the Banque de France that will enroll you in a random french bank.

Although it's illegal, lots of banks try to trick people, especially poor one, students, strangers, people who get debts, etc.

If you don't want or don't have time to enforce your rights, you can simply ask a friend or a fellow student to write an attestation d'hébergement - proof of accommodation - for you , just as if you were living at the guy place for free. This hand-written letter must mention that the guy gives you a couch à titre gracieux (for free). You will also need an electricity bill from the guy and his identity card copy. This is a common practice. I do this many times with almost-homeless-friends.

Assuming you don't want to stay at hostel, it's pretty easy to find roommates among PhD people, even for short times. People sometimes go away from the flat for one week, one or two months and, as rooms are very expensive in Paris, they are happy to sub-locate it to you.

Some people that can help you :

If you are a Maths PhD guy, I'm astonished it would be a problem. You should maybe try again in another bank just as la Banque Postale wich once, was a popular bank, even if some seems to have bad practices.

Last (important) advice: if you are in Paris, choose a bank from a traditionally "poor" arrondissement, like 13ème, 18ème, 19ème or even suburb, Montreuil or Bagnolet are very good choices (east suburb, metro 9 and 11).

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    The theory is nice, but pretty useless, especially in France (that's my and my colleagues' impression, we've spent cumulatively over 10 years there), but it's nice to know that it has an official solution. And +1 for "ask a fellow student for attestation" -- that's what I did, but actually not with a student, it was my supervisor (the question is a bit of an example question, I've solved the situation myself, but I know many people struggling with that, so I posted it). – yo' Mar 13 '14 at 10:29
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This is indeed a pretty tough question and I know a lot of people to whom it happened.

There are no easy answer and as far as I know, you will need some trick. The solutions I heard of were to have someone (close enough) helping you by giving his/her address (he can write a paper saying you live with him/her) and passing you the mail. I heard of some agencies of help for relocation that did that but this up to everyone.

You can also be lucky and find an understanding landlord who would give you the time for the process but I never heard of anyone it happened to.

If you are a student you can find a spot in a residence (called résidence universitaire there), they are more used to this situation so they may have a specific process.

To summarize this is not an easy process, and the best you can do is finding help from a friend or colleague who is a French resident. I never heard of anyone who never found a solution so I suppose everyone finds some trick.

Some related information about help for relocation for a job in France: http://www.actionlogement.fr/ This measure, previously called 1% logement is financed by taxes and has the goal to help people to relocate. You can contact your company and ask if they have a relocation agency partner to help you find a place. This process is financed by this structure.

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