6. French Bank Cheques
6.3. Cashing French Cheques
When you deposit a cheque you will be asked to sign the back of the cheque in front of cashier. This effectively certifies that you have a right to the payment.
Your account will normally be credited within two or three working days of receipt of the cheque by the bank, although this period is considerably longer for a cheque from abroad. It is also generally longer with 'La Banque Postale' than with the other main banks.
The period between depositing the cheque and crediting the account is called the date de valeur and during this period the funds are not available to you. As all withdrawls from the bank are immediately debited from your account, you need to be careful of becoming overdrawn.
Although technically, a cheque in France is as good as cash, if there are insufficient funds in the account then the cheque could well be rejected. In addition, in cases of fraud it is possible that cheque book is stolen or fake, or that the holder has closed the account, and the cheque has no legal validity.
So do not get too carried away by the hyperbole about the guarantee around a French cheque. You need to be careful about payment by cheque unless you are satisfied that the account exists and that there are sufficient funds in the account.
If you are paid by cheque and it should ‘bounce’ (called chèque sans provision or chèque en bois), then you can get a certificate of non-payment from the bank, called a un certificat de non-paiement, which you can then use in debt recovery proceedings.
To commence those proceedings, you can make a claim in a Tribunal d'Instance for a sum under €10,000. In the first instance you would be best advised to contact your local official bailiff, called a huissier.
It is not difficult or expensive to commence court proceedings for small debts. You can find out more by contacting your local legal advice centre, called the Conseil Départemental de l'Accès au Droit (CDAD).
If you issue a cheque without sufficient funds in the account there will be charges, but they cannot be greater than €30 if the cheque amount is lower than €50, or €50 if the cheque is greater than €50.
The ceiling includes any letter the bank may send you regarding the cheque. In addition, if the cheque is presented a second time within 30 days the charge cannot again be imposed. It is also irrespective of currency.
Next: Lost Cheques
Back: Payment by Cheque
The Guides to France are published for general information only.
Please visit our Disclaimer for full details.