Reader question: Is it necessary to have a French bank account if you own a second home in France?
Having an account with a French bank undoubtedly makes life easier when owning property in France, but it is not a necessity.
All residents of countries that are part of the Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa) agreement have the right to set up payments and settle utility bills with accounts in other Sepa countries.
This also continues to apply to British accounts as the right was maintained after Brexit. EDF, for example, confirmed to us that it is possible to pay bills via direct debit from a UK bank account.
The French tax website states that direct debits and online payments require a bank account located either in France or in the Sepa zone to pay local property taxes (or income tax on property rental income).
It notes that it is possible to “sign up to pay your taxes by monthly instalment or direct debit at the due date via a bank account domiciled in the Sepa.”
Note that setting up the latter (prélèvement à l’échéance) actually results in the payment being taken 10 days after the due date.
These methods are instead of just paying the bill when it falls due, mainly by making a direct payment online.
If you encounter difficulties – or are from a non-Sepa country – it is possible to have a euros account without signing up to a French bank.
You could opt for a multi-currency card, such as the one offered by Wise, or sign up to an online bank such as Revolut.
Both options allow for direct debits to pay bills.
Certain UK and US banks, including HSBC, Starling, and East West Bank, also allow you to open a foreign currency account.