Money For Members

Reader Question: What are the rules on international money transfers in France?

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 6 Mar, 2023 Updated Mon 6 Mar 2023 13:11 CEST
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International money transfers aren't just for investment bankers, it's also a common occurrence for foreigners living in France and those who own property here - so here's what you need to know about the rules and the services available.


You can transfer funds to and from your French bank account relatively easily. 

There are several ways to go about doing so - whether it be by using your bank's online or app service, or by opting for online providers that offer competitive exchange rates and fees.


How much the transfer costs depends on your bank or service provider, the amount you are transferring, where it’s being transferred to and whether you need it to be an express transfer. It is more expensive to transfer in a branch or through a cheque.

Typically, you should not expect to incur any fees if money is transferred within the same bank. The fees are also lower if transferring within the EU. 


Under EU law, if you make cross-border payments of up to €50,000 within the EU, you will not pay more than the cost of a national transaction.

Thanks to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), some bank transfers from one EU country to another can be treated as domestic transfers. However, you should still check with your bank for more specific details.

When transferring money outside of the EU or EEA (virement non-SEPA) then you should expect fees to be higher. 

READ MORE: Readers’ tips: What is the best way of transferring money between France and your home country?

For example, for the French bank Société Générale, the fee for sending a transfer abroad can range from €9 to €20. 

If you find yourself having to pay an international transfer fee, it is recommended to share the costs between you and the recipient in the other country, which is available in most cases. If you choose to pay all the costs, you risk paying high fees to the foreign banks.

How long will it take?

Usually between one and five days, depending on your bank.

What information is needed?

You need the correct BIC/SWIFT and IBAN. You will find your own IBAN number and BIC address in your online banking, under account information.

IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number, and it must be used for payments to all countries in the EU and EEA, regardless of the currency.


READ MORE: Second-home owners: Which French bank is best for non-residents?

Using the IBAN helps Straight through Processing (STP) and avoids any associated charges or manual processing fees.

Always state the full name and address of the payee. 

Only fill in the field “Information for the bank” if absolutely necessary, as it involves manual post-processing which costs a fee.

Incoming payments

In addition to sending (transfer) fees, there are also receiving fees which are typically charged to the owner of the account to which the money arrives once the international transfer has been made.

Taking Société Générale as the example, receiving currency other than euro or transfers from outside the SEPA zone can incur a fee of €22 if the transfer amount is greater than €150. For transfers below €150, no receiving fee is applied.

Do I need to use my French bank to make the transfer?

It is worth shopping around to find the best exchange rates and fees when making international payments.

There are providers like Wise, OFX, Currency Fair, Currencies Direct, and Hargreaves Lansdown, that offer competitive international bank transfers by opening an account with them.

Many financial experts recommend internet banks to people who need accounts in both France and a non-EU country, as they often offer lower fees and better exchange rates.




The Local 2023/03/06 13:11

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