If you live in France and need to pay bills, make a payment or even
Why do you need a French RIB number in France?
When I moved to France with my husband and three children in 2011, I knew one of the things I absolutely needed to do first was to set up our home utilities, mobile phone service and internet for our apartment.
Within a week of landing in France, I headed straight to the electric company, which in our area was EDF (Électricité de France.)
Our landlord had electricity set up in our apartment already, but told us we needed to switch the account over to our own name.
So off I went to the EDF office.
To my surprise, the women behind the counter asked for something called a RIB. (Pronounced as a single word.)
“RIB? What’s a RIB?” I asked.
The woman stood there unblinking and respond, “why, it’s your “bank RIB, madame?”
Still not understanding what this “RIB” thing was and why she needed it, I asked her if I could use my credit card to pay or get billed later.
Damn! I absolutely needed this elusive bank RIB thingy.
As the old saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know.
We left feeling a little defeated because we didn’t have a French bank account yet, but not for a lack of trying.
Here’s what happened a few days earlier at the bank.
You first need a French bank account! Good luck with that!
A few days before heading to the electric company to set up our utilities, I “TRIED” to open a French bank account.
I say “try” with “air quotes” because we were missing one of the crucial documents needed to open a French bank account which was “proof of address” in the form of a water bill, gas bill or electric bill.
We didn’t have those utility bills yet. That’s why we went to the Utility company right away to open an account and get our bill to present to the bank.
So basically, we needed to open a bank account to get our French RIb number, which we needed to open our utility account.
BUT…. we needed a utility bill with our home address on it to open a French bank account.
In other words, we were caught in a chicken-egg scenario. How do we proceed?
Issues like this happen often enough when you first move to a foreign country, but in France, it’s especially omnipresent.
We eventually opened a French bank account in France by providing them with a “quittance de loyer” (rent receipt) as proof of address which oddly enough was just a handwritten letter from our landlord, with our address, date and amount we paid for rent.
It wasn’t the bank rep who told us we could use a rental receipt, it was our landlord.
Why the person at the bank didn’t tell me I could use a rental receipt as proof of address in the first place baffled me. I soon learned that this happens a lot.
Once we opened our Frech bank account, I explained to our bank rep what had happened at the Electric company and asked her where to find my bank RIB.
She opened our bank folder, pulled out a piece of paper, and said, “Voila! This is your bank RIB document.”
WHAT IS A French RIB document, And What Information Does It Contain?
So what is a French bank rib?
Is it a number, a document or something else? It turns out it’s a bit of both.
Here’s what you need to know about the Bank RIB in France.
RIB is a French acronym which stands for Relevé d’Identité Bancaire (in English: Bank Details Statment).
Think of a FRENCH BANK RIB as a banks identity card: a small document containing all of your banks branch details and your personal bank account details.
If a company such as a utility asks for your Rib document, you give them this document. They can then automatically bill your bank account.
What information is included in a French RIB document?
To understand what a French RIB number is, you first have to understand what IBAN, and SWIFT codes / BICs are because this information is part of the French RIB document.
French RIB, IBAN, Swift, BIC, Routing numbers! What’s the difference?
In the world of banking, there are a lot of confusing acronyms and terms that do basically the same thing.
A RIB is not the same as IBAN!
IBAN, SWIFT, BIC and Routing numbers are four of the most common banking code that banks use to determine where your money needs to go when transferring money internationally and locally, but in France, it’s the almighty bank RIB number.
Forget routing numbers:
You’ll never be asked for a bank routing number in France unless someone is sending money to a USA or Canadian bank account.
As far as I know, the USA and Canada are the only two countries that use ABA Routing Numbers to identify individual bank branches and transit information to process cheques, payments, and transfers. The majority of countries around the world rely on IBANs to send and receive currencies.
Details on a French Rib with a French name
Bank RIB document layouts and designs look slightly different depending on the bank, but all French bank RIBs consist of the following details.
I’ve broken down each component of the RIB document and included the French word with an English translation for you below.
1) Bank name: (Banque)
- Rib documents will always have the bank name and usually a logo also.
2) Bank Address: (Domiciliation)
3) NAME: (Titulaire de Compte )
- The first and last names or company names of the account holders. Joint accounts will have all account holder names.
4) Bank code: (Code Banque )
- -5 digits long: A bank code refers to the bank chain you’re with. For example, Société Générale’s bank code is “30003,” and Banque Populaire’s bank code is “14607”.
5) Branch code (Code guichet)
- -5 digits long: Each bank branch within the same bank has a different branch code. For example, BNP Paribas in Paris will have a different branch code than BNP Paribas in Montpellier.
6) Account number: (Numéro de compte: )
- -11 digits long
7) RIB key: (Clé RIB:)
- -2 digits: In France, the RIB key is a two-digit number between 01 and 97
8) IBAN number: (Numéro IBAN)
- -27 digits and letters
IBAN, an acronym for “International Bank Account Number,” is an internationally agreed-upon format of letters and numbers that contain all of the country and bank account details necessary to send and receive money internationally.
International IBAN account numbers are used mainly throughout Europe and some areas in the Middle East, the Caribbean, and North Africa.
IBAN account numbers can contain as many as 34 characters; however, French IBAN codes have 27 characters and are formatted a specific way into (6 groups of 4 characters and 1 group of 3), like this- FR76 XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXX.
The 27 letters and numbers that make up the French IBAN code are a combination of the following information:
- Country identifier: (FR for France)
- All IBAN codes start with a 2 letter country code.
- Control key: (usually 76 in France)
- The bank control key is a two-character check code. For France, it’s usually 76.
- Combination bank + account info (21 characters)
- bank code -5 digits
- branch code -5 digits
- account number -11 digits
- RIB KEY: last 2 digits of an IBAN code.
- Country identifier: (FR for France)
9) SWIFT Code Or BIC code (Business Identifier Code)
- 8 to 11 characters:
While the IBAN is your international account number, the SWIFT code (also known as BIC) is the “Bank identifier code”.
What does SWIFT stand for? (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), the international organization in charge of registering BIC codes.
The term IBAN number and BIC SWIFT code are often used together and have become the new standardized RIB banking format for the Eurozone to facilitate international transactions.
Eventually, this format should permanently replace all other bank credentials.
How do I get my French bank RIB document?
There are several ways to get your hands on your French bank RIB document, either in digital format or paper version, which you can download and print.
The image above is an example of what a sheet of 4 RIBs would look like on a printable pdf document which you can obtain in several ways.
You print off the document, then cut them out and hand them out to whoever needs it, such as utility companies.
I’ve listed the different methods below by which you can obtain your bank RIB info to hand out to individuals and companies.
On your bank’s website, in your bank account dashboard
You can log on to your bank’s dashboard and download a PDF version of your French RIB, which will contain a grid of 4 RIBs. Cut them out and put them in your
On your French banks phone app :
In your bank’s phone app, there should be a menu item Labeled RIB, or it could be located in the Documents folder within the bank phone app.
From within the app, you can download your bank RIB onto your phone as a PDF. You can then attach it to emails or print it at home.
You can also send the RIB details in an SMS message, WhatsApp message or email. (see the screenshot above of what that might look like.)
If you order a chequebook with your French checking account, you may find a page at the very back or the very front that contains your bank RIB.
ABOVE you can see my actual chequebook, with the bank RIB page, but I’ve blurred out my banking account details.
Our New bank account at Banque Populaire, does not have the Bank RIB in the cheque book, so we have to download it online.
Other places you can obtain your French RIB document
You can also get your RIB by going directly to your bank and asking for it at the counter.
You may also be able to get a copy of your RIB banking document at your French Banks ATM machine.
Examples of when you might be asked for a RIB in France
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are some examples of when you might be asked to provide a RIB to receive and send payments.
Your employer in France: They will need your bank RIB details so that they can automatically deposit your salary into your French bank account.
Opening up utility accounts in France:
The utility company can then use your RIB to automatically debut your account.
To pay for your child’s monthly school tuition. public school in France is free of course however, if you enrol your children in private schools in France, the school may ask for your bank RIB so they can automatically deduct the monthly tuition.
To get reimbursed for medical expenses: If you become part of the French health care system, you will have to pay for your health costs upfront when you see a doctor.
The French health care system will then reimburse your account up to 70 percent of what you paid to the hospital or doctor. But to be reimbursed, you must provide your RIB in the dashboard of your online Amelie account.
Paying other people:
You may also be sent someone’s Bank Rib information so that you can pay them. For instance, when we were renovating our house in Montpellier, France, the workers sent us their invoices and included their RIB code at the end of the invoice so that we could wire money to their accounts.
Wrapping up the French Bank RIB
Without a French bank RIB, it’s next to impossible to live in France.
Remember, open a French bank account first. Once you have a bank account in France, you will have a French bank RIB and can use it to send and receive money.