Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Banking Challenges

Anyone who considers moving to France has heard of the challenge getting a French bank account. We felt pretty proud when our friend Delana ushered us into the French banking world, but it hasn't really gotten easier since then.

Last week, I was struggling to figure out how to transfer money from our American account to the notaire in France. The account numbers didn't match. I couldn't get anyone from our bank to help by phone or email.
I needed to transfer money for the purchase of our house, and it has to be there by August 5 when the deal goes through. I wasn't worried, we still had more than a week and everything happens instantly online, right?
(I should point out that many people use a transfer service, like Transferwise, but our bank does not charge a fee and has always given us a good rate so we just use it. If you have fees, you should definitely look into the companies that do it.)

I finally decided to transfer the money to our French bank account. I had transferred money there before in a large-ish amount.
So on Friday I sent the money.
The next day, I got a secure email from our bank with 4 questions that I must answer because they had started an "inquiry" about the money transfer.
I had written the word "maison" in the notes to myself. Maison is the French word for house.
The questions from the bank were

  • What did "maison" refer to and was it a business?
  • Where was this business?
  • What kind of activity took place at this "maison."
  • And finally, was any of it connected to Cuba?

Ok, I laughed a bit and answered the questions.
By Monday afternoon, the money had been released and the inquiry closed.
So I turned to my French bank. I had sent money to the notaire from my French bank previously, so it should have been easy. His account was already one of my beneficiaries.
On Tuesday, as soon as I made the "virement" or wire transfer, I received a message from my bank. They were investigating. It might take four days.
I counted the days on my fingers. Four business days? Did they count Saturday since they were technically open then? 
Will the money arrive in time for the closing on Monday, August 5th?
It's all up to the French bank now. Fingers crossed.


Kiwi said...

Welcome to the world of consumer banking internationally. The bank’s are all skittish about possible frauds and money laundering. Transactions usually go more smoothly over time, or in smaller amounts. At least this was a good time to make a big transfer in terms of the exchange rate!

sillygirl said...

My fingers and toes are crossed for you that all goes well!

Paulita said...

Kiwi, Yes, it wasn't bad for us, but luckily the dollar has been fairly strong against the euro since we moved 18 months ago.
Sillgirl, Thanks for the luck wishes. The money is staying put in the bank, unfortunately, but since we aren't there, it's only a problem for the notaire, the real estate agent and the sellers.

Latane Barton said...

Wishing you the best in this exciting venture. Can't wait to see and read more about your new maison in France.

Just Me said...

You are a "Pro". Cheers to you.

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