Bank overdrafts in France are called “découvert”.
An authorised bank overdraft is called a “découvert autorisé”.
Overdrafts in France are generally frowned upon unless they are authorised by the bank beforehand.
If you go overdrawn without authorisation the bank may refuse to honour the payment. Some banks will be a little more lenient depending on the amount or your general track record but it is best to avoid this situation. An unauthorised overdraft if it is paid will certainly attract hefty charges, and there will be charges for authorised overdrafts but much lower.
You must clear the deficit in your bank straight away. Tell the bank how and when you are going to transfer funds and keep to it. If you go overdrawn by a lot, don’t clear it quickly or do it more than once in a limited period your bank can report you to the Bank of France. Punishments include not being able to issue a cheque for up to 5 years, or being unable to conduct any bank transactions until it cleared, you can also be blacklisted. Writing a cheque in France when you don’t have sufficient funds in the account to cover it is a criminal offence – make sure when you write the cheque out that you can cover it.
If you want to take out a regular overdraft facility each month, ask the bank for a “facilité de caisse” so that you can prevent regular issues and potentially having your account closed.
You’ll find that the same situation applies to cheques in France. French cheques are generally cleared the day they are presented. If you don’t have sufficient funds to cover them, the cheque will not be paid and you will be fined and may face your account being closed.
Overdrafts will show up on your French Bank statement as Découvert.
More on French cheques here.