The Registry of Commerce and Companies is an organism that belongs to the Commercial Court and which is used to register companies.
The RCS is known as “Registre du commerce et des sociétés” or “RCS” in French, and the aim of such organism is to centralise all the legal information of the companies operating in France in a single registry and to communicate their existence to the public. If a company is not inscribed in the Registry of Commerce and Companies, it does not legally exist.
The RCS conditions the rights of the companies registered and regulates their professional activity by acknowledging their existence.
Who has to register in the RCS?
Any enterprise performing a commercial activity, whether it’s a natural or a legal entity, has to register either in a Chamber of Commerce and Industry or in the Commercial Court (in the RCS, for this matter, as it’s the organism in charge). On the other hand, civil right companies (such as a real estate company or a holding company) can only be registered in the Commercial Court.
There are, however, two exceptions when the registry in the RCS isn’t mandatory: In the case of a commercial agent or the EIRL (a type of individual enterprise with limited liability). This is due to the fact that both of them have their own specific registry organisms.
The company has to choose its RCS according to the registered address of its head office, that is, the registry has to be made in the organism operating in the prefecture where the main establishment is located. In case of having any secondary establishment, they will have to be included in the registry as well.
The registry demand is one of the steps to create an enterprise, and it’s made by means of a M0 form (for legal entities) or a P0 form (for natural entities). Once the registry is complete, the company obtains:
- A SIREN number, made up of 9 digits.
- A RCS number, which includes the mention RCS, the municipality of the corresponding RCS, the character “A” (for natural entities), “B” (for commercial companies), “C” (for economic interest groupings), or “D” (for civil societies), and the SIREN to complete it. For example, for a SASU, it would look like “RCS Paris B 123456789”
- A K-bis extract that contains all the company information. In the case of natural entities, they obtain a K extract instead, which essentially contains the same information as the K-bis.
The SIREN and RCS numbers, together with the registered address of the head office and the legal form of the company have to be published in every legal document emitted by the company (such as a contract) as well as the website of the company if there is one.
Having made a correct request to register the company, the RCS will make a publication in the BODACC, although it isn’t necessary for individual enterprises neither for single-associate companies such as an EURL or a SASU. This publication is automatic for the rest of companies and it’s meant to officially inform about the creation of the enterprise or any change in it.
What are the consequences of not being registered?
A company that carries out a commercial activity without having informed the RCS about it is not operating legally. If the activity is detected, a court can decree an ordinance to make the company pay a penalty fee.
Conversely, if the company intentionally gives wrong or incomplete information when registering, it may be requested to pay a sanction of up to 4,500 euros and the director can be sentenced to six months of jail and the suspension of his right to manage an enterprise.
What are the deadlines to register a company in the RCS?
An individual company must have completed its registry in a maximum period of 15 days after having started its professional activity. Alternatively, if the natural entity behind it wishes to, it can be registered up to one month before starting to operate.
With regards to any legal entity, there’s not a minimum neither a maximum period to complete the registry. Nevertheless, it’s generally made as soon as possible after the associates concerned have signed the statutes of the company, published a legal announcement in an authorised journal (known as JAL in France), and have made a deposit of the constitution capital.
What is the cost of the procedure?
The registry of an individual company in the RCS has a rate of 28.68 euros. For auto-entrepreneurs, however, the formality has no cost, although it is compulsory to do it.
For every legal entity, the registration fee is 41.50 euros. However, they have to add as well the price of the rest of formalities that they have to carry out in order to register the company properly, as well as the corresponding VAT for each of them. These fees include, besides the registry in the RCS, the BODACC publication, the publication of the legal announce for the type of legal forms concerned, and the registry in the French Intellectual Property Institute (known as INPI).