IBAN Discrimination - France

I actively use LT iban, I am satisfied and Revolut is my main bank. However, since I live in France, I sometimes need a FR iban, so when I met with the representative to switch to a FR iban, I got some information and I would like to share it.

Determinations

Iban numbers are defined according to the country in which the bank or electronic money institution operates. I currently have an account with Revolut UAB (Lithuania). I am happy with the services connected to this account. Incoming SWIFT is credited to my account within 2-12 hours, EUR from Lithuanian banks is credited within 30 minutes at the latest. These processes are satisfactory.

However, if I want to switch from Revolut to FR Iban, my Iban changes in my country along with my address. My new account is transferred from REVEOLUT UAB to REVOLUT FRANCE SUCCURSALE DE REVOLUT PAYMENTS UAB. At the same time, my SWIFT code will change from REVOLT21 to REVOFRP2. I would like to experience the effects of this change, but it is not possible to go back to LT after switching to FR. Therefore this decision is irrelevant.

Evaluation, Proposal

I don’t want to be disappointed with my organization, which I like and I like the customer approach culture of the support team.

It is legally possible to have 2 separate accounts in revolut, after meeting the conditions of holding FR or LT at the same time. This is a more global approach. If the infrastructure system requires a huge amount of work to do this, the customer should be able to keep his/her past account and return to it in the future.

  • Revolut LT and FR transaction times need to be reported. For example Revolut LT uses Barclays Bank in the UK for swift transactions. Does wonder Revolut FR use the same correspondent?

  • I have a proven account with Revolut LT and I am happy with the procedure. But is it different at Revolut FR? After all, I don’t want to get stuck in a procedure of the French system. Everyone knows that France works with written documents and is slow.

  • And while I was writing all this, there was a new problem. The agent told me that my request cannot be withdrawn. So how did it happen? While I was talking to support about the request, the agent sent me a link and a confirmation icon popped up and that was it. I was expecting a clear indication of the information I had given you, but that didn’t happen. I hope this topic will be the beginning of a series of developments where we clarify these issues.

With all my respect to the community and to those who serve.

2 Likes

The French branch is basically just an office, to meet regulatory requirements to issue FR IBANs. (I am exaggerating here, Revolut does probably have people working there with a country manager to improve and adapt services for French customers.) The French branch is not its own bank, it’s still governed by the Lithuanian banking licence.

I see no benefit for Revolut using different intermediaries, for example. (You can check this by going to Revolut’s Website, selecting France, and then “Customer Help”. There’s an FAQ article available that lists intermediaries. It’s important to change country first, some of the FAQ articles are localised.) My assumption is that SWIFT transaction times are going to be in the same ballpark. I am curious if and by what extend it affects local Lithuanian transfers. (SEPA instant transfers are available, too.)

3 Likes

Frank Hi.
I understand your statement and I agree with you. So Revolut UAB is a financial institution under Lithuanian law and the French branch operates under a Lithuanian license. Even if Revolut is a subsidiary of a bank operating outside of France, is it not obliged to comply with French market rules?

2 Likes

Lol… UK is no longer part of the EU and therefore not under the IBAN discrimination law. They can discriminate against GB IBANs probably.

1 Like

Sure, they must oblige with French law where services offered by the French branch are concerned. It’s a mix. Revolut’s official description is:

Revolut Bank UAB has established a branch in France, Revolut France succursale de Revolut Bank UAB, authorised by the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority with SIREN number 917 420 077 (Paris Commercial register) and whose registered office is at 3 Rue de Stockholm, Patchwork Saint Lazare 75008 Paris, France. We are licensed and regulated by the Bank of Lithuania and the European Central Bank.

But why should they use different intermediaries for SWIFT? My guess is SWIFT transfers won’t take longer. Transfers from local Lithuanian banks might, but I have no idea.

What’s not the case is that Revolut has a French banking licence that would allow them to passport their licence to other EU countries, and offer services by the French entity to other EU customers. This might the reason why they (have to?) limit FR IBANs to French residents. But that’s just a guess.

1 Like

and there is the not so insignificant question of fiscal importance to French residents.
When French residents were limited to an LT IBAN, as they were required by the Fisc to report all bank accounts outside of France, this needed to be done (on pain of heavy penalties for non-compliance) but with the French entity that requirement has diminished.
Moreover, irrespective of EU law, IBAN discrimination does occur in France if only for purely practical business purposes since French banking does not allow the customer to withdraw from a Direct Debit mandate of their own volition which is allowed in other jurisdictions, it has be done by the benefactor and in the absence of an FR IBAN, merchants had concerns that contracts would not be performed in the French style and with the lack of confidence in contract performance came the reluctance to embrace non FR IBANs.
And finally, in respect of your comment (have to?) I think that is correct. The Banque de France does have to approve banking facilities to French residents and the approval can be withdrawn in the event of serious banking misdemeanour.

1 Like

Benefits for French customers are obvious, yes. The detail I don’t know is if Revolut could under the current legal requirements by French and Lithuanian authorities, issue FR IBANs to non-residents. There are a number of regional services, like local NOK accounts, or a local pooled EUR account for Swiss residents, where Revolut is limited by local regulations.

I am curious if it’s a requirement or a business decision in the case of FR IBANs. I vaguely remember Boon (a Wirecard brand) offering French card accounts to customers outside of France.

(I know that non-residents can open French bank accounts. There could still be an agreement between Revolut and French financial authorities that only French residents are served by the local branch.)

2 Likes

That is basically true, but AFAIK only applies where the applicant has a property interest in the French State and is able to prove its ownership or a verifiable rental agreement.
I recall my first foray into France and attempting to set up a bank account whilst initially renting a holiday let. This was met with refusal until a more permanent verifiable accommodation was put in place.
This was pre-Brexit of course and may be different now (but I doubt it from what people now say).

2 Likes

I believe it depends on various things. I know from many colleagues (expats, mainly working for universities, research institutes … ), that it depends on the bank, and sometimes on support from employers. Companies might have agreements with international banks like HSBC or Deutsche Bank, which allow expats to open bank accounts before they arrive, and with better conditions, like no extra fees for a credit card, for example.

Banks often deny opening accounts for foreigners, but not because they’re restricted by law. They often don’t want to.

1 Like

Yeah, that’s exactly what we saw. Where do you access this information?

I don’t think they have any legal responsibility for the FR iban. If we make a judgment based on Revolut’s approach to the French market. If Bunq from the Netherlands can provide 5 ibans, it is inevitable to think that Revolut’s use of a single iban is a choice.

We can evaluate Revolut and Bunq relatively in France. Bunq, based in the Netherlands, allows you to create sub-IBANs with the names of the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain and Ireland. So there is no legal obstacle if this is done by Bunq.

2 Likes

From Bunq‘s website:

The French IBAN is available for all bunqers residing in France, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte and Réunion

Same is true for German IBANs, they’re available only to German residents. Bunq registered a branch in Germany to do this. Sounds like the same limitations to me.

2 Likes

Hello, Can someone please help me! I just got Revolut and I am living in France. I would like to get the French Iban so I can sign up for the carte vitale but I can not find anywhere on the forum or app or website or google on how to switch from the LT iBAN to the FR iBAN. Can someone please help me. I would greatly appreciate it. I have just a standard account

I’m not in France, so don’t have any first hand experience. I found this blog post, apparently there’s supposed to be a tile to click on if your address is in France.

If there isn’t anything in the app, I would contact support.

1 Like

Hi Cory and welcome
I too live in France (and now with a Revolut FR IBAN) but use a French “Bricks and Mortar” bank for CPAM and the Fisc.
It took some time for the LT entity IBAN to be changed and from what I recall, there is a backlog which :r: are driving their way through. I think just now, you have to be patient.
Even though I now have a :r: FR IBAN I continue to use the traditional bank I set up before I subscribed to Revolut and at the present time, see no real reason to change particularly as I have a number of LIVRET A interest free type savings accounts with them.

As @glesga helpfully points out, there was a link in the app for both myself and my wife about the time of that post but it has since been removed from what I can see. I know of at least one other FR resident :r: user who has been waiting for some time for this to come back and support have indicated that it will - in time.

Frankly, I had the same problems and I thought that it would happen immediately when I wanted it, whereas it is offered to you at a later date. Just wait or contact support, but they will say wait, you will be notified, and in a few months it happens. You get a notification and you can switch to the French branch if you want.

1 Like

@Cory and @Graham_Lees, expat living in France too here.

I must aknowledge that in the last years there have been several progress against IBAN discrimination by the French side, especially for public services. In my experience, at least from 2022:

  • French fisk (Impots): natively accept EU IBAN, for remboursement and you can even pay taxes with Direct Debit on your non-french EU account.

  • Public health (Ameli/CPAM/Carte Vitale): You definetely DON’T need a French IBAN. You can safely attach a paper with IBAN/BIC/Name and address of your EU bank and it will be linked to your “dossier” for remboursements (did it and received remboursements correctly). Unfortunately because of some technical limitation the foreingn IBAN won’t be shown on your online account (Ameli) and you will always have an annoying (but false) notification “you haven’t registered your IBAN yet”.

  • Public transportation in Ile-de-France (Navigo): they have a pay-as-you-go with postponed monthly debit plan (Liberté+), reserved to ile de france residents but works with Direct Debit on any EU IBAN. At the counter they will probably refuse your non french Iban, but through the website you can do it with no problems.

  • Social housing aid (CAF): they natively accept non french EU IBAN

  • Salaries from Public entity: all the ones that depends on the “general direction of public finances” can technically and legally be credited to non french account. If someone tell you the contrary it means there is someone non updated or too lazy in your administration and you have to insist (the keyword to survive in french paperworks).

Unfortunately the situation is much worse for the private sector: mobile plans, utilities, accomodation etc. tends to be much more reluctant to accept EU non french iban, especially for direct debit.

1 Like

Hi @lore20 and welcome

I prefer to be called immigrant rather than expat because that is what we are :wink:
Thanks for your heads up. I would say “persist” rather than insist to be honest. I have an FR :r: IBAN so the problem doesn’t exist in my case now thankfully but I take your point.
CPAM can be quite fickle - and different regional branches seem to have their own set of rules where other regions seem more malleable. The Fisc too but as we also have a bricks and mortar FR IBAN account obtained after we first came to France some 15 years ago (and before we signed up for a Revolut account) we have not experienced any issues.
Trust you are enjoying France!

2 Likes

Hello folks,

Do you remember how long it was to switch from LT IBAN to a FR one ?
On December 22, I received email, then in-app notification to switch my IBAN to a FR one. I did fill forms as asked in the app in January 23… And since then, no news about Revolut. Customer support by chat explained they are experiencing some issues with the process switching LT to FR IBAN.
As I can not find/read any experience from french user about it, I don’t know if I should wait, worry, how long, contact someone, who… ???

I got a pro account alongside the personal account, Do you know if we could ask/get a FR IBAN for the pro account too ?

Would glad to ear from you ?
Thank you.

I’m a French resident with an FR IBAN as is my wife. We started off with LT IBANs and when the opportunity arose, I agreed mine but for some inexplicable reason my wife did not and the offer disappeared from the app. It came back a week or so later so she accepted it that time.
I know of others who have been waiting for some time for an FR IBAN. Support continue to indicate that it will come back - in time…

1 Like

@Graham_Lees Thank you for helping out. @KevinM Hope this helped :smiling_face:

Please feel free to contact us for any further queries.

Veda | Community Team