What you need to know about bank statements in France

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  1. Introduktion
  2. What is a bank statement?
  3. What does a bank statement contain?
  4. How to get your bank statement
  5. How to use the bank statement
  6. How to dispute a transaction on the bank account statement
    1. Time limit for disputes
  7. Should bank account statements be kept?
  8. Alternative banking services

As a customer of a bank, you receive a bank account statement every month, with a summary of the transactions recorded in your account. What is the information provided, and what is its purpose? This article will explain what you need to know about bank statements.

What’s in this article?

  • What is a bank statement?
  • What does a bank statement contain?
  • How to get your bank statement
  • How to use the bank statement
  • How to dispute a transaction on the bank account statement
  • Should bank account statements be kept?
  • Alternative banking services

What is a bank statement?

A bank statement is an official document that summarizes all the transactions carried out on a payment account. Banks supply it free of charge to all account holders, at the selected frequency (it is generally issued every month).

As an account holder, you can choose to receive a bank account statement every week or twice a month. Note that banks generally provide such a service for a charge (for example, Société Générale charges customers €18 per year for sending bank account statements twice a month, and €1 per bank statement sent every week).

What does a bank statement contain?

A bank account statement is a record, in chronological order, of all the flows of funds in and out of the holder’s bank account over a given period. Each transaction is entered either in the debit column or in the credit column. The document also indicates the initial balance at the start of the period (this amount is identical to that in the previous account statement) and the new account balance at the end of the period (result of all the transactions carried out).

Each bank statement contains:

  • Data identifying the bank and branch (name, address, BIC)
  • Data identifying the holder (name, address, bank account number)
  • The reference period
  • The debit transactions recorded, such as withdrawals, outgoing payments, debits, or transfers
  • The credit transactions recorded, such as incoming payments, and cash and check deposits
  • The transaction date (date on which the transaction is carried out)
  • The value date (date on which the transaction is posted in the account by the bank)
  • The nature of each transaction carried out (description)
  • The balance at the start of the period
  • The balance at the end of the period

Some additional information may also be included:

  • The bank fees debited
  • The allowed overdraft amount
  • Information about the deposit guarantee
  • Customer service contact information
  • The address of the bank mediator

How to get your bank statement

The bank is obligated to supply you free of charge with a monthly bank statement under Article L312-1-5 of the French Monetary and Financial Code. You can access it in the online customer area provided by the bank, or choose to receive it in printed form by postal mail.

How to use the bank statement

The bank statement enables you to monitor your expenses by providing you with a view of the financial flows into and from your account. It also acts as evidence in the event of a dispute, by providing proof of customer payment or nonpayment. That is why it is important to check that the amounts debited from your account reflect the activities carried out every month.

The bank account statement is useful when you wish to dispute a transaction. For instance, if you see that a transaction reported in the bank account statement has not actually been carried out (such as a fraudulent payment or error), you can contact your bank and refer to your bank account statement.

Lastly, the bank may ask you for a copy of your bank account statements when you apply for a loan. The statements allow the bank to ascertain your creditworthiness as a customer.

How to dispute a transaction on the bank account statement

To dispute a transaction, you need to contact your bank advisor by phone or by email (some banks allow you to dispute transactions online in your bank’s customer area or mobile application), and then by letter (by registered post with acknowledgement of receipt) as soon as possible. The authorities in France have provided a model letter to the bank in the event of an error or disagreement. If you do not receive a reply or are not satisfied by the reply, you can take the matter to the bank mediator (learn more about the bank mediator in our article on that topic). As a last resort, you can take the matter before a court (note that legal action could be expensive).

Time limit for disputes

The time limit for disputes varies depending on the type of transaction carried out. If you authorize payment but the authorization does not indicate the exact amount of the transaction and the charged amount exceeds what it should have been, you have eight weeks after the debit date to challenge the transaction (under Article L133-25 of the French Monetary and Financial Code).

If you find an unauthorized transaction within the European Economic Area (EEA), you have 13 months to challenge the charge (under Article L133-24 of the French Monetary and Financial Code). When the transaction is carried out outside the European Union (EU) or the EEA, the time limit is reduced to 70 days, but it may be extended to 120 days (Article L133-1-1 of the French Monetary and Financial Code).

Should bank account statements be kept?

There is no obligation on customers to keep bank account statements (the bank keeps them for 10 years). However, you are strongly advised to keep each document the bank provides in the event of a dispute or legal action. Under Article 2224 of the French Civil Code, the limitation period is five years from the date of issue of the bank statement. For real property transactions, the limitation period is 30 years. You can also download your bank account statement history from the online customer area provided by your bank.

Alternative banking services

There are several alternatives for banking services, including the advanced application programming interface (API) known as Stripe Issuing. With Stripe, businesses can create and issue cobranded cards to their customers, set their own expense limits, and manage authorizations. Issuing also makes it easier to manage completed transactions by providing detailed transaction data, allowing customers to better track their expenses and challenge anomalous transactions. Discover all the banking services Stripe offers.

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