France has a peculiar baking system where everything revolves around a RIB (relevé d'identité bancaire). Normally, I wouldn't mind eating some ribs, but, what the French term RIB stands for, only has a taste of bureaucracy. RIB is a document you get from your bank, but in order to open a new bank account, you need a RIB from your current bank. This might not be an issue for a French person, but if you are not from France, you will soon face the absurdity of the chicken-egg problem. 🐣 Luckily, I have just the solution for opening a French bank account entirely without an existing RIB. ☺️
Step 1: Getting a RIB without a RIB from Germany
It turns out that you can actually get a RIB without having a French bank account. You will just need a bit of help from Germany. There is a bank called N26 that lets you open a German bank account in your phone hassle-free. They don't need a lot, just a picture of your passport and a proof of address (for example an electricity bill).
They opened an account for me within a couple of hours and boom, I had a German bank account. If only opening a French one was this easy. 😂 N26 costs money, but don't worry, as soon as your French bank account is up and running, you can close N26 down. It is easy to do that in their app.
Now you need to download your RIB. You can do this by logging in to your N26 on a computer, then go to downloads (an arrow icon close to send) and click on download RIB. The official instructions are available in French on N26 website. Once you have your RIB, you can proceed to opening a French bank account. Don't close your N26 account yet! You will need it to verify the IBAN on your RIB later.
Step 2: Use your N26 RIB to open a French bank account
Now you can go to Boursorama Bank's website and open a French bank account. With Boursorama, you can open a bank account 100% online, all you need is the RIB you got, a proof of address, a passport scan and a scan of your signature. You will also need a French phone number. If you don't have one already, you can just go to any Free shop to get a French SIM card from one of their vending machines. And yes, you can also get a proper SIM card that is not a prepaid one from the vending machines (I got mine from Les Halles).
Boursorama has frequently promo codes on their website, so make sure to use whatever promo they have when you create a bank account. When I opened my account, they had a crazy promo that gave me 100 euros of money for free. :-D. Boursorama is free of charge if you use your Boursorama card once a month. If you don't use your card, they charge a small fee. Weird, huh? At any rate, you will need to deposit 300 euros from your N26 to your Boursorama before they activate the account. It is important that the money comes from N26 and has the same IBAN as the one in your RIB. This way they can verify that it is you.
Step 3: Enjoy your French bank account
Now you can do all the things French people do like give your RIB to different companies so that they can take money from your account without even informing you. This is the French way of paying your monthly fees like electricity, gas, internet, insurance and such… Of course as a Finn, I am terrified by how a RIB that essentially has your IBAN and BIC (which aren't by any means confidential information) can be used to take money from your account just like that. Kinda explains why the French society runs the way it does when you think about it. 😂