France Company Formation

Introduction to Register a Company in France

France is the 5th largest economy in the world and the 2nd largest in the Eurozone. Although France was slower than many of its EU counterparts to embrace a truly liberal business culture it has aggressively sought to attract foreign direct investment – with considerable success. This has resulted in what is now a very simple and straightforward process to register a company in France, although local advice is essential in order to ensure compliance with legal and financial regulations.

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What is the best way to register a French company?

There is no fixed pattern for company registration in France. Options range from opening a small representative office – a bureau de liaison – through to acquiring an existing company or setting up a new business from scratch. A SARL (Limited Company) or SAS (Simplified Joint Stock Company) are the most popular for overseas clients.

What is the most common type of French company incorporation?

There are four main kinds of French company incorporation:

  • business corporation – Societé Anonyme (SA)
  • limited company – SARL
  • simplified stock corporation – SAS (most common)
  • SCI – Societe Civile Immobiliere

What are the requirements for an SA company?

  • The minimum share capital is €37,000
  • the company must have at least seven shareholders
  • shareholders are liable up to the limit of their capital contribution
  • accounts must be audited in line with statutory requirements
  • top managers are treated as employees for tax and social security purposes

What are the requirements for a SARL company?

  • the minimum share capital is €1 however banks prefer the company to have at least 4000 € share capital.
  • the minimum number of shareholders is one (also called a EURL Company)
  • shareholders are liable up to the limit of their capital contribution
  • accounts must be audited in line with statutory requirements
  • top managers have more onerous tax and security rules than SA managers

What is an SAS company?

The Societé Par Actions Simplifieé (Simplified Stock Company) is a relatively new type of entity in France. It is a vehicle for creating a joint venture between a French company and a foreign partner. Previously, French companies had found it difficult to enter into joint-venture relationships with foreign companies because of the rigidity of French corporate law. However, SAS companies are increasingly finding favour with foreign investors considering France company formation, particularly in the USA, who wish to set up business in France.

What are the requirements for an SAS company?

  • the minimum share capital is €1 but banks prefer the company to have at least 4000 € share capital
  • the company must have at least one shareholder and director
  • shareholders are liable up to the limit of their capital contribution
  • there is no need for a board of directors

What is an SCI Company in France?

An SCI is similar to that of a private limited company, which has been incorporated. However, it also has a registered office/property in France which can either be rented out professionally or freely available for its shareholders; this is because it is the shares of the SCI which own the property. These shareholders own the property relative to their proportion of shares declared in the company statutes and can be resident or non-resident in France. The shareholders are liable for the debts of the SCI and if there are two (the minimum number necessary) each if responsible for 50%. It is by collective decision of all shareholders that decisions are made concerning the SCI.

How easy is it to recruit staff for those considering company registration France?

Recruitment itself is reasonably straightforward in France but labour laws are very complex, much more so than in most other EU countries. Unemployment is running at about 9.9% (2016). Employment contracts for a fixed term are only permissible in a limited number of situations. Certain collective agreements negotiated at the national level are automatically applied to certain commercial and industrial sectors. In other sectors, such agreements are only applicable when agreed to by the employer. Collective agreements cover all workers, whether or not unionized. It is essential to take legal advice before offering or entering into any kind of employment contract. We have a carefully selected team of legal and recruitment specialists based in France. If you are considering to register a company in France, please contact us for more information.

What is the regulatory environment like for France Company Formations?

France has a well-developed legal and regulatory system broadly similar to that in other EU member states. There are few restrictions on setting up companies, except in certain areas such as banking and insurance and there is no restriction on imports or capital from abroad. However state ownership is still a significant feature of the French economy, particularly in infrastructure industries and some restrictions still apply. Furthermore, the French legal system is slow and expensive, which underlines the importance of securing good legal advice from the outset. Our team of French legal specialists can help and offer advice on any French company incorporation issue, so please contact us for more details on how to set up business in France.

Are there financial incentives available for France Company Registration and what about banking facilities?

For those considering company formation France, the country has a world-class international banking network, and there is a wide range of financial institutions with expertise in arranging financial transactions and transfers. The first step in opening a French company should be to establish a local bank account – we can arrange this for you.

In addition to commercial bank loans, various types of assistance to new businesses may be available. These grants and loans from local authorities help with finding sites, shared cost access to support services, tax incentives and grants for innovative new companies.

How can I get more information? will be pleased to discuss your French company incorporation matters in greater detail. We can check your proposed company name on your behalf with the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle (INPI). Euro Company Formations can assist you with a full range of services including company registration France, Bank Account, VAT Registration, Virtual Office and Accountancy Services! As we have an office in Paris, our fees to set up business in France are very competitive.

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