Introduction to company formation France

Although being the 5th largest economy in the world, France has been slower than many of its EU counterparts to embrace a truly liberal business culture. At the same time, it has aggressively sought to attract foreign direct investment - and with considerable success. One result is that it is now very simple and straightforward to set up business in France, although local advice is essential in order to ensure compliance with legal and financial regulations –  contact us to learn more about the benefits of company formation France and how we can help with this through our office in Paris.

What is the best way to set up business in France?

There is no fixed pattern for company registration 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) is the most popular for overseas clients.

Please note since September 2009, can now offer Shelf / Readymade Companies in France with VAT Numbers!

What is the most common type of French company incorporation?

There are three main kinds of French company incorporation:

  • business corporation – Societé Anonyme (SA).
  • limited company – SARL.
  • simplified stock corporation - SAS.

What are the requirements for an SA company?

  • the minimum share capital is €37,000, of which at least half must be paid up.
  • 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 was recently reduced to €1.00.
  • 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 favor with foreign investors considering company formation France, 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 €37,000 of which half must be paid up.
  • the company must have at least two shareholders and a chairman.
  • shareholders are liable up to the limit of their capital contribution  Check name for uniqueness with the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle (INPI).
  • there is no need for a board of directors.

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 8%. Employment contracts for a fixed term are only permissible in a limited number of situations. Certain collective agreements negotiated at national level are automatically applicable 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 company registration France, please contact us for more information.

What is the regulatory environment like for French company incorporation?

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 – 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?

Please contact us and we 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). Mumtaz & Associates 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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