• Harriot Grinnell-Moore

Red Tape? France? Really?



Red tape is something of an everyday ordeal in France. My worst encounter was trying to open a bank account, do not do it, ever, I've warned you. I'd been trying for two months at this point and was dying inside, HSBC's website entices you in telling you that you can "open a bank account with us in 48 hours." It's lies. All lies.


Apparently, a rent contract is not an adequate form of proof that you live somewhere, even though it is the only form I had. There’s only so many times you can tell a person that you have no utility bills in your name as they are included in your rent, your phone bill is billed to an English address and can they not just accept this letter you asked you landlord to write as extra proof. So that alone took around a month to convince them. Mon Dieu.

Then came the back and forth between us over other forms of documentation, can you send us an extra piece of ID? Sure. Now how about another payslip? Why not. A contract signed in your first born's blood? Let me grab that for you. Another month passed.


Finally, finally after two months of trying they accepted my request to open a bank account. Now was just the small matter of paying your opening fee of 200€. Oh yes, not only do you have the pleasure of paying 5€ a month for a bank account, you also have the pleasure of a nice big non refundable opening fee. Fortunately, I have a revolut card which means that I can spend and withdraw cash from my UK bank account for free abroad and I only have to make one international payment a month which costs £4 in bank fees. Therefore, the sensible option seemed to be to just keep my UK bank account as it's cheaper.


That would be except for one little thing, social security. I had been told that to get your social security number (which you need to be able to claim back a percentage on healthcare costs amongst other things) the process takes around 6 months, after you have filed your request so I started as soon as I possibly could. However, they require a tax identification number, which I did not possess. On contacting my agency they advised me to go to the local tax office as the normal way to obtain your tax number is by filing a tax return (which happens in January and this was May) or if you're already a French citizen by turning eighteen. The tax office told me I needed my RIB, which is a french bank account number. You see my problem. Eventually they agreed they could do it without, although after sending off paperwork I was told I need my RIB from them to process with it.


I obviously started chasing the bank, and by the time it was all processed and my bank account was ready my official translation of my birth certificate had run out (they demand that it has been translated in the last two months) so then I had to go through that process, again, and pay €50, again.


There isn't even a happy ending to all of this, I still have no social security (as of yet), and have spent nearly €100 so far on healthcare appointments and prescriptions, how I miss the NHS. So please 2018 be kind to me and give me a social security number, please.

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Contact me: helgm1@gmail.com | The Netherlands

© 2017 by Harriot E.L. Grinnell-Moore

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