Category Archives: Administrative

Opening a Bank Account/Credit Card in France


Being accepted to ESCP Europe means being entitled to a Premier card from BNP Paribas for free! Scratch that, BNP wants Grandes École business so much they’ll pay you 70€ for opening a bank account with them. Sweet. So this comes with a concierge and a private jet right? Not exactly. The card is a standard higher withdrawl/monthly limit (not ludicrously sky high) with no fees for 3 years (average time for a masters student). Nonetheless, everyone dons the gold card.

But you can only open a bank account after you have a housing contract.

To get setup you’ll have to book an appointment at either the Parmentier or Oberkampf BNP branches with your ESCP Europe acceptance letter, housing contract and passport. My housing rental contract didn’t suffice so I had to receive and sign a registered letter from the bank at my flat to confirm my address.

What’s awesome is those crafty Europeans have combined the power of debit and credit into a single card. It’s like Gillette Fusion. North America needs to get on it!

Some quibbles with the banks:

  • There are weekly limits, not daily limits on how much you can withdraw from ATMs. Plan ahead for paying rent.
  • If you want to withdraw money from a teller, you need to bring your bank card, an ID card – a Passport for non EU-residents, and a cheque. You go have to write a cheque to yourself to withdraw money. Very French.
  • Branches with tellers are few and far between.

You’re probably wondering if it’s worth it to open a French bank account if you’re only staying for a couple months. It definitely is. You’ll need a bank account to receive CAF – housing subsidy from the French Government – and getting a cell phone plan amongst other things. It makes withdrawing macaron money a breeze. And how can you say no to 70 free euros?



Filed under Administrative, Gear, Housing

The French Visa – Part 1

Campus France

The first step after getting accepted by SFU International is setting up a profile on Campusfrance (CF).

After filling out your personal details, I contacted the Vancouver CF coordinator to help me fill out the rest of the application. CF is like SFU International, where your exchange school has to “approve” your application. The Vancouver CF coordinator emailed me a confirmation letter I needed for the Visa when ESCP Europe accepted me on CF.

The Visa Application

The Campusfrance coordinator recommended that I apply for the 2B Visa.

Some notes about the 2B Visa:

  • The numbering on the translations page does not correspond with the application form. Get it checked!
  • The required 35x45mm photos are not the same size as Canadian passport photos
  • You need a letter from the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) (not an insurance provider, e.g. Sunlife) stating you have provincial medical coverage
  • SFU Health plan covers additional travel insurance (as of Dec 24, 2010)

After completing the application I booked an appointment with the French Consulate in Vancouver here. They issued the Visa the same day so my advice is to book an appointment early to have enough time to get missing items. I also did not have to pay for the visa, which I’m assuming was subsidized.

Part 2: In addition to this visa, once you’re in Paris and living here you need to go through another application for the “Carte de séjour” or the “Titres de séjour”, which is a residence permit. More on this later..

Update: If you get the 2B visa, you do not need to get a Carte de séjour.

Update 2 (August 2011): It looks like the Campusfrance registration is no longer required making it even easier to get a Visa!

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Filed under Administrative, Pre-Departure, Visa