Hello everyone really enjoying the site and its valuable information.
My Wife and I are hoping to relocate to France this year and we’re going around in circles trying to find the best way/ currency transfer company to exchange pounds to euro.
Second to that then is opening a French bank account to deposit the euros in ready for the property purchase.
We dont want to be in the position of seeing a property then not having the money in place within a French bank. We have read about Britline but there appears to be mixed reviews about their charges etc.
One thing we did wonder if it is possible after using the currency exchange service can the monies then be transferred direct to the Notary i.e the 10% deposit etc. and thereafter the final amount prior to completion of the sale.
My Wife does have an EU passport and I have a UK passport so hoping to get a Carte de Sèjour as a Spouse of an EU citizen.
We do have friends who reside in Paris and are French nationals so some help is available with the purchase process.
I’m sure many people will chime in with a variety of points but I’ll just take your comment point by point to give some basic answers/ opinions
You can use one of the Wise/ Revolut type services but for what I assume is a sizeable amount I would still go with one of the forex specialists, Lumon, TorFX,… there are many others people will chime in with, they will get a very good rate and as it’s their business they will pre-clear you for AML beforehand so you’re not in a situation where you go to make a vital transfer and it’s held up while you have to provide proof of funds to your bank or whoever and hope things get sorted at an already stressful time.
This is two issues, as you’ve alluded to further on. There is much discussion on here as to whether you actually need a french bank account at all, it depends who you are and how you bank. I haven’t had one for a little while as I never used the one I paid handsomely for, instead I just use a combo of Revolut & my British account that has no fees.
To your second issue
This is 100% what I’d do, they will (in theory) know when the best time to convert it will be to get you the most. Send it to them, they’ll convert it at the best time and send it direct to the Notaire’s account when you ask.
Some people on here swear by Britline, frankly it seemed like too much bother for too little return to me, but then pre-brexit you could just go into any high st bank with a forest worth of paperwork and come out an hour or so later with an account, and in my case meet a nice french bank man who spoke good English who would be my regular advisor for the first couple of years meaning language wasn’t an issue. These days Ithink you have to have a residence permit as a Brit to get an account since we’re no longer EU but third country nationals, which makes britline a more valuable proposition than it was perhaps, although obviously having one of you as an EU National may make the bank process easier.
French banks generally charge. Online French banks may not. Our question was whether we preferred to have a bank which had native English speakers so that we could discuss problems more easily, but which imposed charges, or try to save a few euros a year by doing it all online. My French is okay; Mrs P is fluent, but knows nothing about finance!
Obviously that’s a very broad-brush characterisation.
We felt the advantages of Britline outweighed the costs, but others will (I hope) weigh in with alternative takes on the question.
Thank you ever so much for replying and the suggestions you have made.
Excellent advice, you read so many different problems people have encountered.
I do like the idea of a direct transfer to the Notaires account which is what generally happens in the UK as you will be aware.
I did wonder as my Wife has EU status that it might make things easier for a French bank account.
I suppose revolt is a definite option and this is something we will look into.
Were just not really used to online banking but if its the way ahead then will have to sharpen up our tech skills
Thanks ever so much for your advice, its really appreciated.
Thanks for your advice too. Its can be very daunting navigating how French banking works etc. We are really both beginners at the French language although doing at school (a long time ago)
I take onboard the advantages of Britline outweighing the costs.
Thank you JanehJones for you advice and direct transfer to the Notaire. We just werent sure if that was the done thing in France but every days a school day.
We read about cheque books and did like them in the UK.
So Britline initially then move if required or sharpen up our tech skills for online etcc
It’s worth saying that unless you buy in their region (up north somewhere I think? Brittany?) you will likely (I think) have to do everything by phone or online with britline anyway. French banks (and virtually everything else) are regional societies like the old days in Britain. My nearest Credit Agricole bank was part of the Centre Ouest society, the one I was registered with was part of the Touraine et du Poitou society so my nearest bank basically couldn’t do very much to help me as I wasn’t part of their club! Someone who uses britline will be able to give you the ins and outs of how they operate but the only reason I kept my french account as long as I did was because of the ability to walk into a branch if I really needed to and get some in person help and I’m not sure whether that’s possible with Britline.
If your wife is EU she will have no trouble opening a local bank account…
I know this since a Dutch chap who is buying a local property… did just that yesterday morning…
Like you he wanted everything in place for when funds have to go hither and thither… and also for arranging the DDebits for utilities etc…
As it happens, he chose Credit Agricole from the 3 banks on offer… no idea what made him choose that one though…
We did wonder re Britline, we want to relocate further south, anywhere really in a 100km radius of Ruffec/ Civray area. So really Britline being based up in the North will be a case of online banking or phone banking. We do like going into a bank etc. Its a dilema going full on online banking but i suppose we will have to move with the times.
Really appreciate your advice, thank you ever so much.
Yeah both my Wife and i like to be organised but we did wonder with having EU status then it maybe easier opening a French account.
Online banking being an option as Kirstaeastevenson mentioned, still like the idea of speaking with someone but perhaps we may have to move with the times.
I happened to be in Civray on Wednesday actually! After all these years I still managed to stupidly arrive at ten to twelve, then spent a couple of hours in a ghost town as everything was closed for lunch I’m horrendous with timings and it’s over an hour away so timed it completely wrong lol. My old insurance agent is based there, the Groupama was recommended to me specifically because they have agents who deal with a lot of English speaking clients. @graham’s insurance lady who does an excellent newsletter is in Ruffec I think, so if he’s around here I’m sure he’ll fill you in, and he will perhaps know the banking situation locally too, but if you’re looking at that area you’d be very unlucky not to get English speakers in businesses, there are tonnes of brits around there.
We had a great time in Civray last September, weather was superb and life at a different pace of life to the UK. People were so friendly.
We had a tour about and viewed a few properties, but just didnt find the one for us.
Driving was a pleasure and the locals were so helpful and had a great time.
Funny we arrived in Ruffec about lunchtime and it was the same, no one about. Headed into the local estate agent who were viewing the property with us, we were assured we just arrived at the wrong time., Tremendous way of life
We used a currency broker to exchange a quite considerable sum. Better rates than any bank offered…
Opened a HSBC account in Toulouse (we thought we would buy down there), easier before as HSBC france has been sold. Bank charges apply and no credit cards. Insist on a high limit for the card(s) and high daily cash withdrawl limit. Nevertheless good online services and a ‘personal banker’ who speaks english for queries. If you open an account for the both of you - make sure it is ‘ou’ -or- either of you have access and sign cheques not ‘et’ -and- where you both have to sign a cheque…
Same thing happens with the carte grise on a family car if the person who dies is the only name on it. The survivor then has to re-register the car in their name once the inheritance issue is sorted out - been there and got the teeshirt.
Must admit, “our” car is only in my name. Do you know if you have to go through the whole rigmarole and expense i.e. selling it to yourself and partner, or is it a simple ANTS (sorry never simple!) thing?