I was able to open an HSBC France account while in USA. I am a USA citizen and USA passport.
Step 1: Call HSBC Canada and verify that they can help you.
Step 2: Go to an HSBC Canada location and open an account. This is useful only to establish your identity within the HSBC system.
Step 3: Once the HSBC Canada account is open, ask them to open an HSBC France account. Use a Canadian address for mailings. You will have to select an HSBC France agency location. There are many locations. If have no idea where you'll live, open an account at the Chatlet agency. It is central. You might be able to combine Steps 2 and 3. Be prepared to show them your passport, driver's license, credit card and proof of address in Canada. All documents may need to agree exactly on all details; name (first, middle and last) and address. It may require several trips to HSBC Canada to fix any irregularities.
Step 4: Once your account is open, obtain a login to HSBC.fr. Set up transfers to/from your Canadian account so you can move money around (international wire transfers). You may need to fax some documents to your agency to do so. It is very helpful to be able to move money around online. FWIW, in America, Chase Bank allows online international bank trasfers. HSBC France allows online transfers too. Be aware that it takes weeks to set up the transfer systems. Afterwards it takes a week for an international wire transfer to be processed. This is France, you know.
Be aware that the process is goofy so you may receive a "French experience'. Start the process early so you can fix any issues that arise. Likely it will take two weeks to two months. Ask to get a French credit card (Carte Blue) and checks. You'll need it at times. Expect that the credit card won't be sent to you correctly, this is normal. Expect that the credit card's PIN code won't be sent to you correctly, this is expected. Also, you'll have to track down your checks. Expect to take several weeks in France to locate your credit card and PIN.
You can only do certain bank operations at your agency location, no matter what anyone tells you. While you can get money at any HSBC ATM (or other ATM), you can't deal with key issues (Where is my PIN code?) at any agency other than the one that holds your account. You'll have to make trips to the agency to unscrew the issues.
It is difficult to transfer agency locations so choose wisely. If you wish to transfer agencies, you're bank account number will change which will undue all the hard work you did above. It may be best just to open a new account at your new location and start over. That will avoid transfer screw ups.
I have seen great success in opening an HSBC bank account after arrival in France. I took a friend to an HSBC agency where they opened an account for him in four days. The only issue was that they had to send statements to his American address instead of French address. I believe he didn't have good proof of address here. I prefer to have my statements sent to America anyway. You can check all bank details online.
--- On Tue, 6/23/09, la canadienne <[address removed]> wrote:
> From: la canadienne <[address removed]>
> Subject: [canadian-6] Opening French Bank Account from Overseas?
> To: [address removed]
> Date: Tuesday, June 23, 2009, 11:01 PM
> Greetings All,
> I will be moving to Paris this fall, and I need to open a
> bank account
> there. I heard that it's possible to open one before I even
> arrive. Is
> this true? Does anyone know of a bank that can do
> this?? Merci!
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