FAQ Settling in France

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I have a French bank account in France. In a restoration dispute, two cheques to seperate suppliers ‘bounced’. I have paid suppliers the full amount, one by bank transfer and the other in cash. I did not get receipts and neither supplier has responded when I asked them to confirm they have been paid. How long will I have to wait before these bad payments are wiped from my record and will I still need to pay timbre fiscal to the bank?

By virtue of the law, these bad payments are listed at the Banque de France records for a period of 5 years. However, this does not mean that your debts are cancelled after this period and, therefore, a bank can still decide not to remove from the Banque de France records as long as you have not cleared your debts.

The best supportive document required by law, in order to prove that such payment has been made, is to provide the bank with the bounced cheques that you must get from the suppliers.

I note that you did not get any receipt further to your payments and have some difficulties to hear from the suppliers. I advise you contact the manager of the bank and try to explain him/her that one of the payments has been made through a bank transfer (and therefore is traceable). He/she may accept that such payment has been made (and then clear your record) although the bounced cheque is not provided.

With regard to the payment made by cash, I am afraid that the only solution is to contact the supplier again in order to get the old cheque from him/her (you should have asked him/her a receipt when you made the payment).

With regard to the payment of the timbre fiscal, this has been abolished since 1st July 2010 by the Law number 2010-737. However, you may be charged by the bank for other fines and penalties by virtue of the terms and conditions contracts you have signed with such bank.

How long do I have to keep all the papers?

As a general rules, all papers should be kept at least 5 years as for most cases, this is the minimum delay to file a civil matter in front of a French Court. So, in order to protect your rights, you should keep all the papers for the time during which a legal action could be filed (i.e. from 5 to 10 years and sometimes 30 years such an invoice paid to a builder).

However, all the papers with regard to family and matrimonial matters (such as a divorce Court judgment or the livret de famille which is a booklet which serves as an official record of marriage and subsequent events in the family) should be kept without any limitation.