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Can I get a French cheque book if I am not a resident? Over here in Belgium, cheque books became obsolete two decades ago, so my bank doesn't issue euro cheque books.

Cheques in France are quite convenient if you want to rent a holiday rental or visit a wine tasting event, credit card readers are not always available and sometime ATMs are not around the corner.

Is it possible to buy prepaid cheques when you are not a resident of France?

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Pre-paid cheques sound a lot like Travellers Cheques, is that largely what you had in mind? –  Gagravarr Dec 7 '13 at 14:59
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@Gagravarr They're quite different: cheques are payment orders to a specific beneficiary, whereas travellers cheques are more like cash that can only be used by one person. But travellers cheques might solve the same problem. I've never heard of prepaid cheques (except for a fee for very large sums, e.g. for buying a car). –  Gilles Dec 7 '13 at 15:16
    
There are bank cheques which are very much like postal orders except the former you obtain from a bank and the latter from a post office. We used to use them to buy things by international mail order a long time ago. They were getting very expensive and I assume they're now all but obsolete. –  hippietrail Dec 7 '13 at 16:32
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1/ You could ask your bank, if you're in Belgium. They may have agreements with a french bank for this sort of things. 2/ If any bank emits prepaid cheques, I'd first ask Société Générale. Or ING direct as they've a branch here in France. 3/ We lagged a lot in bank services 10 years ago (and still do) but cheques are disappearing, except for deposit cheques. Visa/CB (credit card) is nearly everywhere and if you must wait 48H for a prepaid cheque, well just ask for a wire transfer instead (needs IBAN, still called "RIB" here except they're obsolote number accounts. IBAN is fine) –  FelipeAls Dec 8 '13 at 7:48
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@FelipeAls Bank transfer is not very practical and very uncommon in these situations in France (much less common than in Germany for example). People are likely to be confused if you ask for an IBAN (except possibly if they are dealing with foreign customers regularly). –  Relaxed Dec 8 '13 at 9:17

1 Answer 1

Pre-paid cheques do exist, but they're not that widely used today. The most common form of them is Travellers Cheques, but they also exist as Bank Drafts, Postal Orders and a few other things. They have a few drawbacks, including needing to be sorted out in advance, only coming in pre-determined amounts, and either needing the recipient to known + named at issue, or otherwise security risks if anyone can use them.

I'm not sure therefore that a pre-paid cheque would be all that great a fit for your use case, since you wouldn't know before leaving Belgium who you'd want to make a cheque out to a few weeks later, nor exactly how much for. Travellers cheques in conjunction with some cash (to hit the exact amount needed) might work, but they normally attract a fee to buy, and not all places will be comfortable accepting them and cashing them in later.

That all said, there is one kind of "pre-paid cheque" which is incredibly popular and widely used in France - Chèque Déjeuner (and similar, often simply called ticket resto). These are normally purchased in a large number by a company for its employees, and then exchanged for a meal (typically lunch, but not exclusively). As they come with some tax breaks, they won't normally be available to you as an individual on your travels. They also won't help for the specific case in your question, no matter how widely this specific kind of pre-paid cheque is used in France!

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So, with pre-paid cheques largely out of the running, what can you do? As I understand it, you need a euro denominated cheque book. Nothing about it needing to be a French one, as long as it's in euros and from a European bank (or at least with routing details via one). My first suggestion would be to ask all the banks you deal with at home, and see if they'll sort one out for you, most likely for a fee.

Otherwise, you'll need to find a European bank in a country that still does cheques, open a Euro account with them, transfer some money over (luckily SEPA means there'll be no charge for that), and write the cheque from your other account. It doesn't even have to be in a Euro country - for example Citibank London offer Euro accounts and these come with a euro cheque book!

I'd suggest you start by asking one of the more international banks in your home country, and see if they do offer cheque books - they may do if they're used to their customers travelling a lot more. Next, check if one of the international banks elsewhere in Europe will give you one as a non-resident, and compare their fees. (The Citibank London one I mentioned can be free depending on how you use it, or otherwise has a monthly fee, so decide if it's worth it). Failing that, you'll probably need to open a French bank account as a non-resident. As for how to do that, a new question on Money.SE would be your best bet.

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Chèque déjeuner (more commonly called ticket resto) is a very specific entity. Its purpose is for an employer to offer its employees a counterpart to the inconvenience of not being able to go back home for lunch. Officially they can only be spent in a restaurant or in a supermarket on preprocessed food that you can immediately eat (like grated carrot for instance). –  mouviciel Dec 22 '13 at 8:10
    
Unofficially it can be spent on a lot more kinds of food in many places... Can they / something like them not be bought by members of the public too? (I thought someone had said they could) –  Gagravarr Dec 22 '13 at 9:16
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As they are specific also with respect to taxes (VAT, employer's cost of labour...) I believe that they are not available to general public (officially I mean). –  mouviciel Dec 22 '13 at 13:54

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