Business entities in France

Different France business entities

Healy Consultants will assist our Clients with the set up of their company in France. There are several types of business entities available for France business setup, the most common being the Joint Stock Company, particularly fit for starting a small business in France. Foreign entrepreneurs can also set up their business in France as a limited liability company, a public limited company, a branch office or a representative office.

The French LLC (SARL)

France business setup requirement for different business entity typesThe French LLC is commonly used by entrepreneurs to setup an SME. An LLC must appoint at least 1 director and 1 shareholder, who can be of any nationality. Furthermore, France limited liability company requirements specify that only €1 will be needed to complete the incorporation process.

The Simplified Joint-Stock Company (SAS)

Like an LLC, this business entity can also be incorporated with 1 director and 1 shareholder with only €1 as the minimum paid up share capital. However, it offers additional advantages including i) directors may be corporate entities and ii) no limit on number of shareholders.

The French Publicly-Limited Company (SA)

  • France public limited company setup requires a minimum share capital of €37,000. Furthermore, at least 7 shareholders and 3 directors must be appointed, whom can be of any nationality. PLCs are also required to go through an annual audit and must designate a statutory auditor for that purpose;
  • To give your company a marketing edge, Healy Consultants recommends our Clients establish a French PLC instead of an LLC or an SAS. In France, it is not necessary for a PLC to list on the stock exchange.

The European Stock Corporation (entreprise européenne)

Two EU based companies can choose to incorporate as a European Stock Corporation. A minimum amalgamated paid up share capital of at least €120,000 is required. The main advantage of this business entity is that our Clients will be exempted from setting up a complex network of subsidiaries under different national laws.

The Branch (branche)

French Corporate law stipulates that a branch office can be 100% foreign owned. France regulations also allow for the scope of operations for this entity and its business structure to be defined by the parent company. Also, the branch office will have an independent management team and corporate bank account based in France. Branches suffer French corporation tax and an additional remittance tax of 30%. If the branch encounters financial difficulties, the parent company bears unlimited liability for its debts.

The Representative Office (bureau de liaison)

While the French representative office can be 100% foreign owned, it is not allowed to make direct sales with France. In France, this corporate structure can consequently only engage in i) market research and ii) promoting the business of the parent company.

Table of comparison between France entities

 LLCPLCSimplified Joint
Stock Company
BranchRep Office
Also known asSARLSASASBrancheBureau de liaison
How long to set the company up?2 weeks3 weeks2 weeks4 weeks2 weeks
How long to open company bank account?4 weeks4 weeks4 weeks4 weeks4 weeks
Legal liability?LimitedLimitedLimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Wholly foreign owned?YesYesYesYesYes
Minimum paid-up share capital?€1€37,000€1€0€0
Must file annual corporation tax return?YesYesYesYesNo
Tax Registration Certificate required?YesYesYesYesNo
Corporate bank account recommendationBPCEBNP ParibasSociete GeneraleHSBCHSBC
Does our Client need to travel?NoNoNoNoNo
Resident director required?NoNoNoNoNo
Resident shareholder required?NoNoNoNoNo
Minimum directors allowed?13111
Minimum shareholders?17100
French resident company secretary required?NoNoNoNoNo
Corporate shareholders allowed?YesYesYesYesYes
Corporate director(s) allowed?NoYesYesYesYes
Public register of shareholders and directors?YesYesYesYesYes
France corporate tax rate?33%33%33%33%0%
Annual financial statements required?YesYesYesYesNo
Statutory audit required?YesYesYesYesNo
Allowed to issue sales invoices?YesYesYesYesNo
Allowed to sign contracts?YesYesYesYesNo
Allowed to import and export goods?YesYesYesYesNo
Can rent an office in France?YesYesYesYesYes
Can buy France property?YesYesYesYesNo
Can own equity in other French companies?YesYesYesYesNo
Estimate of total business setup costs in Yr. 1€11,790€14,390€11,790€12,790€10,940
Estimate of total annual costs thereafter (excl. accounting and tax fees)€1,400€1,400€1,400€1,400€1,400
Sample engagement fee InvoiceFrance setup costFrance setup costFrance setup costFrance setup costFrance setup cost

Frequently asked questions

Contact us

For additional information on our business setup services in France, please email us at email@healyconsultants.com. Alternatively please contact our in-house country expert, Mr. Simon Guidecoq, directly:
client relationship officer - Simon
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