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What is a Livret A and should foreigners living in France open one?

If you open a French bank account, you may also be offered a Livret A saving's account - here's what that means and why it might be a good time to open one, with interest rates expected to rise in February.

What is a Livret A and should foreigners living in France open one?
Livret A savings books. (Photo by Denis CHARLET / AFP)

The Livret A is a standard savings account that is quite popular across France, it is tax-free but has a maximum amount that you can keep in it. It’s quite similar to a cash ISA in the United Kingdom or a standard savings account in the United States.

Due to inflation, Ouest France reported on January 11th that the Banque de France was expected to announce at the end of the week an interest rate increase for Livret A accounts. The rates would rise on February 1st, and likely to levels above three percent, which have not been seen in France since 2009.

Is it advisable to open one?

According to financial advisor Cedric Bernier, who works at Harrison Brook, the Livret A is “the way to start.” Bernier advises that foreigners living in France take this initial step “start saving monthly” with this savings account. 

The financial adviser warned that “the interest rate is really low,” so your funds will not grow by a large amount in this savings account, but “once you have more funds to put aside, you can begin considering other options.”

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about setting up a bank account in France

Bernier recommends keeping three to six months worth of living expenses in an emergency fund with the Livret A. Additionally, for those who arrived in France with a small amount saved that they want to keep liquid, then a Livret A would be a good option. 

If you are looking for investment options or other savings possibilities, you can read more HERE. Keep in mind that possibilities tend to be more limited for Americans in France.

READ MORE: Ask the experts: What do Americans in France need to know about investments and pensions?

Who can open one?

As the Livret A can only be opened under one name, you cannot open another one if you already have one, even if it is with a different bank.

Regarding residency requirements, both non-French residents and French residents alike can hold Livret A accounts. Depending on your bank, the typical minimum deposit amount is €10. You will not have a cheque book or card issued to this account, but transferring sums to and from your current account is a simple process. 

Are there any limits to the Livret A?

Livret A accounts have a maximum amount – as of December 2022, the ceiling was set at €22,950 for individuals and €76,500 for associations, excluding the calculation of capitalised interest.

While you can hold a Livret A and another savings plan like the “Livret de Développement Durable et Solidaire,” you cannot hold more than one of both accounts. You also cannot a Livret A in tandem with a Livret Bleu (Livret B). If you are eligible for a Livret d’Epargne Populaire (LEP), which is means-tested, then you can hold this account at the same time as a Livret A. You can learn more about other saving’s accounts in France HERE.

Americans should keep in mind that US citizens must disclose any non-US bank accounts that held $10,000 or more at any one time in the year – you do this when you file your annual tax return, you have to include a Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR).

As of December 2022, the interest rate on a Livret A was two percent, with the rate set to be updated next in February 2022, likely to three percent or higher.

How do I open one?

You can set up a Livret A fairly easily by simply contacting your bank and scheduling an appointment. Some banks might allow you to set up the account online, if you already bank there.

When looking online, you can direct your searches on your bank’s website or personal space to “Add an account” (Ajouter un compte) or “Learn about saving’s options” (Décrouvrez nos Comptes Épargne & Livrets).

READ MORE: The best banks for Americans living in France

Member comments

  1. Yes. Thank you for pointing out this is for only those living in France.
    A few years back (well before Brexit) I naively opened a Livret A as a holiday homeowner to protect an amount of cash I wanted to keep for house expenses, (yes, I was naive) although I’m domiciled in the UK.
    About five years later I realised that I should have been declaring the interest to the UK Tax authority.
    A total of €35 was duly declared – it had been a modest amount – after which the hounds of hell pursued me for all my fiscal records for the past 5 years in France and the UK.
    This went on for months, despite my initial declaration and overpayment on account of tax on interest received.
    Eventually rang HMRC and the person who answered was helpful and considerate, said that I was being harassed unfairly, all was in order, and actually, HMRC owed me an amount of back tax, which I received the next day.
    So yes, I was daft and uninformed. And phew, it was resolved.

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