A guide to bank drafts in France

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  1. Introduction
  2. What are bank drafts?
  3. How do they work?
  4. When do you use bank drafts?
  5. What are the benefits?
  6. Are there any fees associated with bank drafts?
  7. Is there a limit to the amount of a bank draft?
  8. How do you verify bank drafts?
  9. How are bank drafts cashed?
  10. Bank draft validity period
  11. How can a bank draft be obtained?
  12. What are the alternatives to bank drafts in France?

While bank transfers are the preferred payment method in France, bank drafts are still used in certain situations. What are bank drafts? How do they differ from personal cheques? When are they used? In this article, you'll find answers to these questions, including how to obtain bank drafts and how to verify their authenticity as the recipient.

What's in this article?

  • What are bank drafts?
  • How do they work?
  • When are bank drafts used in France?
  • What are the benefits?
  • Are there any fees associated with bank drafts?
  • Is there a limit to the amount of a bank draft?
  • How are bank drafts verified?
  • How are bank drafts cashed?
  • Bank draft validity period
  • How can a bank draft be obtained?
  • What are the alternatives to bank drafts in France?

What are bank drafts?

Bank drafts are a payment instrument that a seller can request from a buyer for a large transaction. They come in the form of a single cheque that is issued and signed by the buyer's bank at the buyer's request.

How do they work?

When a buyer requests a bank draft, the bank checks the availability of funds in the buyer's account. If there are sufficient funds in the account, the issuing bank withdraws the funds from the buyer's account. The amount is then debited from the account at the issuing bank and the bank, rather than the buyer, issues the draft to the recipient.

When do you use bank drafts?

Bank drafts are an attractive payment option for large purchases between individuals, such as sales of works of art, used cars or household appliances.

Note that since 2015, it has not been possible to use bank drafts for property transactions of over €3,000 (according to Article L112-6-1 of the Monetary and Financial Code). These transactions must be made by bank transfer.

What are the benefits?

Bank drafts are a guarantee of payment for sellers, protecting them against the risk of insufficient funds. They are a safer and more secure method of payment than personal cheques because the bank issues the draft and guarantees the funds. Sellers therefore have assurance that they will be paid in full.

What's more, some sellers find it easier to leave it to their bank to process the draft.

Are there any fees associated with bank drafts?

Bank drafts generally cost between €5 and €25, depending on the account agreement and the buyer's bank. However, it is good to know that online banking fees are lower and some online banks even offer the service free of charge.

Is there a limit to the amount of a bank draft?

In principle, there is no limit to the amount of a bank draft. However, buyers should check if their bank has its own limit.

It should also be noted that sellers can refuse to accept bank drafts for small amounts.

How do you verify bank drafts?

The issuing bank starts by checking the buyer's account to ensure that they have the necessary funds to complete the transaction.

Once the draft has been cashed, the seller is required to verify its authenticity. The draft has the words "BANK DRAFT" in clear capital letters on the back. This text is bordered by two striped flames and framed by two sowers. This is the watermark introduced by the Bank of France in 2009.

You can also visit the issuing bank to verify the authenticity of the draft. Furthermore, it is important to make sure that the draft has not been crossed out or stained, and that it has been dated and signed by the issuing bank.

How are bank drafts cashed?

Recipients are advised to cash bank drafts with their bank as soon as possible to ensure that the funds arrive quickly.

Bank draft validity period

A bank draft is valid for one year and eight days from the date of issue. The recipient is free to cash in the draft at any time within this period. Note that the amount will remain blocked on the buyer's account until the draft has been cashed.

If the draft is not cashed within the validity period, the bank must return the amount debited from the buyer's account.

How can a bank draft be obtained?

To obtain a bank draft, buyers simply need to send a written request to their bank (by post, through the customer area etc.). Provide the necessary details for the transaction, such as the recipient's identity, the nature and amount of the purchase, and any payment documentation (such as an invoice or quote).

Once the funds are in the account, most drafts are approved and issued within 48 hours of the request.

What are the alternatives to bank drafts in France?

There are many alternatives to bank drafts in France. These include personal cheques, direct debits, bank transfers, progress payments, payment vouchers, cash payments, card payments, digital wallets and more. For sellers, it's important to be aware of all the payment methods available.

Stripe's advanced optimisations provide access to over 100 payment methods that make it easy to transact with buyers, wherever they are. Get started with Stripe today to discover the payment methods that work best for customers and businesses – and maximise revenue.

The content in this article is for general information and education purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Stripe does not warrant or guarantee the accurateness, completeness, adequacy, or currency of the information in the article. You should seek the advice of a competent attorney or accountant licensed to practice in your jurisdiction for advice on your particular situation.

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