The Enterprise Formalities Centre (CFE)

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The purpose of the Enterprise Formalities Centre is to accelerate, facilitate and simplify business formalities.

In France, they are known as Centres de formalités des entreprises or CFE, which is not to be confused with the cotisation foncière des entreprises, which shares its acronym. They allow companies of any kind (EURL, individual enterprises, public liability companies, etc.) to register in a single place all the documents and declarations concerning the creation or the resumption of an activity, any modification in the situation of the company (for example, changing its name, its main activity, etc.), and the end of their activity (liquidation).

The CFEs thus prevent companies from multiplying the steps with the different organizations where they must be declared (INSEE, URSSAF, RCS, tax services, Registry of the Commercial Court, etc.).

Competences of an Enterprise Formalities Centre

The main objective of a CFE is to constitute a single organism for official formalities concerning enterprises. After receiving and checking the file of a company, the CFE is in charge of sending it to the various institutions concerned. It is important to know that the CFE is also present on the Internet, so the entire business creation process can be done online.

When creating a company, an entrepreneur must first apply to the CFE on which it depends to declare his activity by means of a P0 form (for natural entities) or a M0 form (for multi-associate companies).

The declaration serves to provide all the information about the activity of the company and it must be filed during the first 15 days of activity. In addition, the tax regime to which the company will be subject must also be stated on this declaration.

Once the declaration of existence is deposited, the CFE issues a Business Creation Deposit Receipt (in French, récépissé de dépôt de création d'entreprise or DRDCE) to the director of the company immediately and for free and transmits the declaration of existence to all the recipient bodies: the URSSAF, registry of the commercial court, INSEE, etc. This receipt remains valid until a notification of registration is sent by the pertinent organism, a process that takes a maximum of one month.

Once all the documents are properly registered, the company obtains:

  • The registration in the competent official organism according to the nature of the activity of the company (for example, a company that carries out a commercial activity will be thus subject to the Registry of the Commercial Court).
  • The company identifiers assigned by the INSEE (SIREN and SIRET numbers, APE code);
  • The allocation of a VAT number by the Corporate Tax Service (SIE), which is essential for every commercial transaction within the European Union.

However, although the CFE is normally effective in the process of business creation, it is less efficient for changes in the activity or liquidations of companies, in which case the companies often have to come into direct contact with the organisms concerned.

Although the CFE serves to centralise all the documents of an enterprise, and forwards them to the pertinent institutions, by no means does it take care of the formalities than concern the entrepreneur himself, such as:

  • Creating a bank account for the enterprise.
  • Drafting the statutes of a company (which has to be done by the associates with or without the assessment of a professional).
  • The publication of legal announces in an authorised journal (JAL), although it may in fact act when the announces are to be published in the BODACC.
  • The registered address of the company.

The Types of Enterprise Formalities Centres

Depending on the nature of the activity carried out, as mentioned before, the competent CFE will be different. In France, there are five different types:

  • CFE of the Commerce and Industry Chamber (known by its acronym as CCI), which is competent for companies dedicated to commercial or craft activities that have more than 10 employees.
  • CFE of the Artisanal Chamber (CMA by its acronym), which is concerned about crafts activities unless the company has more than 10 employees, in which case it’s the competence of the CCI.
  • CFE of the Registry of the Commercial Court: it is in charge of most companies created in France, such as civil societies (such as an SCI), commercial agents, etc.
  • CFE of the URSSAF, which takes care of liberal or freelance professions such as lawyers, architects, engineers, authors, etc.
  • CFE of the Agriculture Chamber which, as the name indicates, is responsible for activities related to farming or agriculture.