How to set-up a business in France?

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France, and particularly its capital, Paris, is a well-known location, being the top touristic destination for many.

France is also one of the most valued countries in the world when it comes to sectors like fashion, cuisine or perfume. In that regard, it’s not a secret that opening an office in the country will increase considerably your international visibility.

Additionally, the country presents a series of advantages to create a company, amongst which we can highlight the relative ease of the bureaucratic procedures to follow compared to other European countries, the diverse types of legal forms that you can choose from to suit your company best, the entrepreneurial environment in the capital, the number of options available to finance your project, the fair ease to find qualified and competent workers, as well as being one of the main economic powers in Europe.

With all that being said, creating a company isn’t a decision that should be made quickly as, theoretically, it should be a long-term project. It’s so important to know what the procedures to follow are in order to create a company in the country, and so start it the right way.

DATA ON THE FRENCH MARKET

To learn more about the French market you can go on the INSEE web site. That has the mission to collect, analyze and disseminate information on the French economy and society.

The French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies is a Directorate-General of the Ministry for the Economy and Finance. INSEE operates with total professional independence.

CHOOSE YOUR LEGAL FORM

Once you have analysed the factors involving the growth perspectives of your enterprise, the number of members that can intervene in it, whether you would like external participation in the company or you don’t want any outside intervention, the capital you’re willing to put in your business… it’s time to choose the legal form of your company. In France, there are more than 15 different types of legal forms, so the choice may seem harder.

There are 3 main types of legal forms

  • Individual entreprise : a single associate, he is the sole owner of the business.
  • Single-associate company : a single associate. The responsability is limited to the liability of the company.
  • Multi-associate company : multiple associates with companies publicly limited, or limited liability, or simplified joint stock, or general partnerships.

The most common ar SARL (multi-associate with limited liability); SAS (multi-associate with simplified joint stock); and branch, if you want to extend an existing business in France.

At this point, you will also need some written by-laws that will be used as the legal basis for the constitution of your company.

In addition, according to the legal form you have chosen, you will need to determine the capital to invest in your company, which can start from € 1 for some types of forms.

WHERE TO ESTABLISH YOUR REGISTERED ADDRESS?

The next step is choosing where to establish the registered address of your company. In France there are three possibilities:

  • Using your private address providing that you have one in the country.
  • Buying or renting your premises in France, which you need to note as part of your budget when looking for investors.
  • Using the domiciliation services of a business centre that will provide you with a prestigious address without even being based in the country.

Beware yo ur address of choice since it will be the first thing that your customers see.

FORMALITIES TO REGISTER YOUR COMPANY

When the business you conceived already has a shape, it’s time to create a dossier in order to register your company and make its activity legal and its existence known. For this dossier, you’ll need to include:

  • The name of your enterprise.
  • The legal form of your business.
  • The status of the company signed by all the members.
  • The amount of the initial capital.

To the status signed by all the members, you should add:

  • The required files and forms ("formulaires cerfa") with all the details filled in.
  • A copy of the compulsory publication of a legal announcement concerning the creation of your enterprise in a journal that offers that service.
  • A copy of the identity card of the director.
  • A domiciliation agreement.

Once you have all the pertinent documentation, you have to register your business in the Centre de Formalités des Entreprises”  that corresponds to the location of your registered address. In most cases, you can complete this process online and, after that, you’ll obtain a SIREN or SIRET number, which is the French equivalent of your tax identification number.

If you aren’t fully aware of the procedures to obtain your documentation and you need some guidance to decide on legal aspects, it’s better to contact a professional that understands French regulations.

BEGIN YOUR PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITY

Once your enterprise is registered in the Commercial Court, you will get the so called ‘K-bis’ number, which entitles you to perform a professional activity legally in France.

FORMALITIES