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What is a 'saisie sur compte bancaire' in France and how can I contest it?

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
What is a 'saisie sur compte bancaire' in France and how can I contest it?
Euro bank notes (Photo by jody amiet / AFP)

Being unexpectedly charged for a long-forgotten tax or hospital bill in France can be frustrating. Here is what to do if you find yourself needing to contest a bill.


It can be a very unpleasant surprise to log onto your French bank account and find an unexplained charge titled 'Saisie Administrative a tiers détenteur' (SATD).

This is an 'administrative seizure by a third party', which basically means an administrative body has requested that you be charged for an outstanding bill, tax or fine that you have not paid.

The SATD is one type of 'saisie sur compte', or account seizure. The other is a 'saisie attribution' (more on this below).

As for the 'third party' concerned, it is usually your bank, but occasionally it might be your employer who could withhold a certain portion of your salary or, if you are retired, a part of your pension might be seized.

Keep in mind that both checking and savings accounts could be affected or frozen (for up to 15 days maximum).

An SATD can be contested, but before you start the process you should figure out what the seizure is in relation to and whether it actually applies to you. 

What types of debts can be considered? 

This procedure can be done to recover funds owed to a public administration in France, which could include anything from unpaid taxes or late fees, fines (including court-ordered damages), as well as canteen and hospital bills.

The SATD could be regarding a single sum of money owed, or it could be in relation to several claims.

If you want to learn more about property taxes in France - and which ones are owed by second-owners - you can consult our guide.

READ MORE: Is your French property a main residence or a second home (and why it matters)?

How will I be informed?

Both you and the 'third party' (usually your bank) should be given notification in the form of an avis de saisie administrative a tiers detenteur. 


The notice you must indicate your options, as well as the deadline for when you must pay. Once your bank receives the avis, they must take the funds from your account within 30 days. 

If you did not receive the avis de SATD, then you should contact your bank to request any information that they received. You can ask for the name of the administrative body requesting the debt, as well as their contact information.

How much can be taken out of my account?

The amount debited should correspond to the amount owed.

That being said, you cannot be left with a negative balance, and the remaining funds left in your account should be equal to or greater than €607.75 (as of 2024). Similarly, social benefits cannot be seized.

Keep in mind that your bank may charge you a fee for the SATD. However, these charges (including tax) must not exceed 10 percent of the amount due, up to a maximum of €100.


What recourse do I have?

This depends on whether or not the amount seized corresponds to a fine/penalty or another debt.

For fines or penalties, the SATD can be contested within two months of receipt. The dispute must be related to an irregular notice (avis) - for example, if it does not mention any deadlines or appeal procedures. 

You must send a letter (with supporting documents) to the Departmental Director of Public Finances (DDFIP) of the département in which the SATD was applied.


If the debt is not related to a fine or penalty, then the two month rule still applies but you can contest other elements.

You can contest any irregularities with the notice (avis) - for example, if the deadline to make payment has already passed. You can also dispute the obligation to pay and the amount of the payment.

Similarly, the dispute must be made in writing and sent to the relevant DDFIP.

If you do not receive a response from the authorities within two months of sending your dispute letter, then you can launch a court appeal. You also have this recourse if your dispute is rejected, though you must do so within two months of being notified. 

The type of court will depend on the nature of your debt.

What do I do if the charge is definitely not for me?

Start by contacting your bank to ensure there was no mistake in allocating the SATD. Next, reach out to the administrative body listed on the avis de SATD. They should be able to offer more details on the charge.

If you feel the debt does not apply to you - perhaps it is a charge for a hospital you never visited - check whether there is any possibility that there has been a mix-up in identity (un problème d'homonymie).

What about a 'saisie attribution'?

This is a different type of 'saisie sur compte bancaire' - it relates to a debt owed to a private individual or a company, which has been recognised by a court decision. It is subject to a different administrative process than a 'Saisie Administrative a tiers détenteur'.

In this case, a court order is required for funds to be seized.


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