Have you decided to launch your business as a self-employed person in France?
Starting a business in France as a foreigner can be more or less easy, depending on the legal status you decide to adopt. Though some legal regimes are quite uncomplicated to create (e.g. auto-entrepreneur status), some questions still need to be addressed.
Moreover, if you are registered as a self-employed person in France, you still have mandatory disclosure requirements to fulfill. They include the payment of social security costs, tracking your revenues and expenses, or turnover declarations.
In this context, opening a bank account in France as a freelancer is critical for your freelance business. If you are wondering how to open a bank account as a self-employed person in France, this article will guide you.
Is a dedicated professional bank account mandatory for self-employed people in France?
Everything depends on your legal status as a self-employed person.
If you are registered as a micro-company (micro-entreprise) or sole trader (entreprise individuelle), you must open a separate account for your freelancing activities.
However, the French law is silent on the nature of the account. Therefore, you can open another account in your current bank if you separate your business and individual expenses.
Opening a business account in France is mandatory in the following cases:
- You are registered as a company (EURL or SASU)
- Your company operates in sales activities
- Your turnover has been superior to 10,000€ for two consecutive calendar years
Whatever the legal status you choose, we recommend you open a business account entirely dedicated to your activity. The separation between your professional and personal estates will be easier. Also, if you undergo a tax audit, you will be covered!
4 Steps to opening a bank account in France as a freelancer
Step #1: Define your needs
Before opening an account in France as a freelancer, you must consider several criteria to get the ideal solution for you. For this reason, you must examine the following questions before making your choice:
- your legal status and social security scheme
- the number of transactions you expect to have on your account (wire transfers, direct debits…)
- the means of payment you need: for instance, do you need to have checks and payment terminals for your activity?
- the budget you want to allocate to your activity
- your bookkeeping habits – do you keep your book accounts on your own? Have you outsourced your bookkeeping to a certified public accountant?
- the insurance contracts you need for your freelance activity
- the need for credit or overdraft facilities
Answering these questions will help you to make the best choice of bank you want to open an account with.
Step #2: Open your account within the required deadlines
If you decide to create a company for your activity (EURL, SASU), opening a bank account should be one of your first move. It is a prerequisite to the registration of the company.
If you are registered as an auto-entrepreneur (or micro-entrepreneur) the French law gives you 90 days to start declaring your first turnover to the social security authorities. Moreover, you must open a business account within the next 12 months if your turnover is superior to 10,000€ for two consecutive calendar years.
Nevertheless, please keep in mind that opening a bank account right away after the creation of your freelance business is not compulsory but highly recommended. Even if you can even cash your first invoices without it (only if you are an auto-entrepreneur),we recommend you open a business account to avoid potential bookkeeping errors.
Step #3: Provide the supporting documents
The conditions for opening a bank account in France can be slightly different from one bank to another. However, as banks have due diligence requirements, they will ask you systematically for the following documents:
- A valid ID document (e.g., passport, ID card, or driving license)
- Documentary evidence of your address (phone invoice, electricity bill, or rent receipt)
- Declaration form of the beginning of your freelance activity
- SIREN or SIRET number of your business (you necessary have one, no matter your legal status
Step #4: Read your contract carefully
This step is essential because you must understand:
- how your selected account operates,
- the terms of payment with your credit card (especially abroad),
- the conditions of opposition and cancellation
- the deadlines for executing orders
- the methods of communication with the bank
- the pricing conditions
Traditional banks or online banks ?
If you are self-employed in France, you can choose to open your account with a traditional bank or an online bank.
With this option, you can discuss the available offers with a bank advisor. Thus, opening an account with traditional French banks is very reassuring for freelancers. You can also carry out a variety of banking operations, such as wire transfers, or cash and check deposits.
It can be a great solution to start your freelancer adventure abroad : you can benefit from a personalized experience and have support while you get acustomed to the french administration system.
However, the pricing conditions are quite high with a traditional bank so it could be interesting to start there and switch to an online bank when you feel more confident with your business.
Over the last ten years, online banks have become increasingly popular among freelancers. Thanks to them, opening a bank account in France has become easier, quicker, and more practical. Moreover, the pricing conditions are much lower than in traditional banks.
By opening a bank account online, you can benefit from several banking and non-banking services, such as:
- bank account management
- editing of estimates and invoices
- export of accounting statements
Many French online banks offer great money for value to freelancers: Qonto, Shine, Boursorama, or N26 Business. Just study their conditions carefully before you choose one of them.
From now on, you have all the keys for the opening of a bank account in France as a self-employed person.
As we know the opening of a bank account will not be the only French administrative procedure you will have to figure out, we prepared a glossary of all the terms you might encounter in your self-employed journey in France.
Also, if you think the French administration system has taken enough of your time and energy, you can have a look at the status of portage salarial : it's a legal status for freelancers that gives you all the freedom of self-employment while getting the same advantages as an employee. It might be a solution for you ?