DOING BUSINESS IN FRANCE

Since 2003, Healy Consultants Group has assisted our multi-national Clients’ Clients with company registration in France. Our professional services include i) France company formation services ii) France business license registration services iii) corporate bank account opening services in France iv) employee recruitment and visa services v) France office rental solutions and vi) France company statutory accounting and tax services.

Choose Healy Consultants for your France company setup needs and benefit from our customized services, expertise and exceptional support.

Contact us today to explore how we can support your business in France.

France company formation guide: Table of contents

Advantages and disadvantages of starting a business in France

  1. Over the past few years, France continues to be the most attractive country in Europe for foreign investors because:
    • The French economy is the third largest in Europe with a buying force of 67.3 million domestic consumers. It is the world’s seventh-largest economy after the United States, China, Japan, Germany, India and the United Kingdom. France is a significant player on the global economic stage.
    • The country has a strategic location, serving as a crossroads hub to both eastern and western European markets. French companies benefit from the highly developed infrastructure for travel and transportation including i) the second-largest rail network in Europe and ii) the third-largest road network and iii) highly active seaports and iv) 18 major international airports. The French logistics sector employs almost 2 million people.
    • Within two weeks, a France limited liability company can be incorporated with one director and one shareholder, who can be of any nationality. The minimum paid-up share capital required is €1.
    • The French workforce ranks as one of the best educated, most productive, and most innovative in the world. France is globally ranked as the third most productive country on the planet, just behind Germany and the US.
    • Foreign companies bidding for public procurement contracts in France are generally treated on an equal basis with domestic companies.
  2. The French government takes a special interest in tech startups. Technology plays an important role in the French economy and its government invests heavily in R&D, creating a favorable foundation for innovation. The Sophia Antipolis technology park in Paris has the highest concentration of technology engineers outside Silicon Valley. Major global technology players have established a presence in the park including companies like Accenture, Cisco, Intel, IBM, Air France, and Orange.
  3. If our clients meet the required criteria, there can be a good source of funding for French subsidiaries including:
    • The Public Investment Bank offers low-interest loans of up to €1.5 million to finance innovation projects in companies with i) less than 250 employees ii) less than 50 million in annual revenue iii) operating for at least 3 years; and
    • Equity investment of up to €15 million is offered by the government to unlisted resident companies with i) at least €20 million in annual turnover and ii) one profitable year within the last three years; and
    • Companies with less than i) 250 employees and ii) €50 million in annual revenue can benefit from a public guarantee scheme on bank loans financing iii) the design and development of new products/services and iv) R&D investments. Please note that the guarantee may represent up to 80% of the loan value, with a €300,000 cap; and
    • The French government provides low-cost trade credit insurance to all resident companies, covering up to i) 100% of the exports’ value for companies with less than €150 million turnover and ii) 95% otherwise; and
    • Businesses investing in priority areas will receive incentives including i) 100% corporate tax exemption for up to 7 years ii) reduced social security contributions and iii) grants up to €15,000 per job created for projects with more than 25 employees. Please note that incentives will cover up to 35% of an SME’s initial investment value; and
    • Subsidies are available for government-approved employee-training programs which can cover up to 75% of the cost for SMEs and 50% for large companies.
  4. To encourage multi-national Clients’ establish a French subsidiary, multiple Government incentives exist including:
    • A special expatriate exemption scheme to help attract overseas company directors and employees to France – providing partial income tax exemption for a period of up to eight years; and
    • France boasts the most generous research tax credit in Europe, with 30% up to €100 million in expenditure and 5% beyond; and
    • France has also signed tax conventions with over 120 countries geared towards eliminating double taxation; and
    • The government also offers a tech Visa, a fast-tracked scheme for non-EU startups, employees, founders and investors to obtain a residence permit for France.
  5. Foreign entrepreneurs registering a company in France benefit from strong intellectual property protection laws because:
    • France is ranked as the 6th best country in the world for registering patents. Furthermore, France is also a signatory to WTO’s Agreement (TRIPS) which protects against IP violations.
    • French companies benefit from a unified patent registration procedure that provide legal protection in other EU countries, greatly reducing patent registration and translation costs.
    • The French government actively monitors electronic communication networks to prevent infringements to IP rights, with random checks and fines up to €7,500 per violation.
  1. Multi-national Clients’ find doing business in France is difficult because of:
    • The language barrier – 50% of French people do not speak a foreign language. Government employees only communicate in French. All Government documents are in French. All legal contracts must be fully written in French. The official language of the EU is English, but the French population are proud to primarily speak the French language in both personal and professional contexts.
    • Each industry is highly regulated with a lot of red tape and regulatory licenses.
    • It is necessary to hire external expensive French accountants because i) the French tax system is one of the most complex in the world and ii) of the large amount of monthly and quarterly Government reporting.
  2. France is a high tax country because:
    • French companies pay multiple annual taxes including i) corporation tax of 25% and ii) VAT of 20% and iii) a CFE tax on asset values and iv) CVAE tax on annual turnover and v) social security contributions can amount to 50% of gross Staff pay.
    • Personal income over € 170,000 suffers 45% personal income tax.
  3. Employing Staff in France is difficult because:
    • Monthly payroll is complicated and administratively heavy, including employer and employee contributions to statutory health insurance, unemployment insurance and the national pension scheme. For small French companies, it is necessary to engage an external French accountant to manage monthly payroll.
    • The country has extensive and complex labor laws with excessive emphasis on employee rights and protections.
    • Dismissing unproductive employees in France is a highly regulated process, with strict notice periods and large severance pay requirements. Employees wield significant power.
  4. The cost of employees is high because:
    • Employer statutory contributions amount to approximately 50% of employee salaries, a huge additional payroll cost; and
    • Employees enjoy a standard 35-hour working week and five full weeks of holidays.
    • Employers must provide a slate of employment benefits to their French workers, and these can come at a significant cost. Some examples include maternity and paternity leave, vacation pay, sick leave and death insurance.
    • French employees are entitled to significant public services and mandatory benefits, both of which can make it considerably expensive to hire workers in France.

Types of company structures in France

There are several types of business entities available for France business setup, the most common business type in France 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)

What is an SARL?

  • The Société à Responsabilité Limitée (SARL) is one of the most used company type in France. It is equivalent to the Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Shareholders of an SARL have their liability limited to the amount they have contributed to the company

Essential regulatory requirements for setting up an SARL in France

  • A minimum of one director and one shareholder, who can be of any nationality, is necessary to form an SARL
  • When there is only one shareholder, it is referred to as an Entreprise Unipersonnelle à Responsabilité Limitée (EURL)
  • The company can have up to 100 shareholders
  • An SARL should be led by a manager, who is required to be an individual
  • The minimum share capital required to establish an SARL is €1

French Simplified Joint-Stock Company (SAS)

What is an SAS?

  • The Société par Actions Simplifiée (SAS) is a type of joint-stock company that is favoured for its flexibility
  • Shareholders’ liability is limited to the amounts they invest

Essential regulatory requirements for setting up an SAS in France

  • Similar to an SARL, an SAS can be incorporated with one director and one shareholder
  • An SAS allows for an unlimited number of shareholders, whether individuals or corporate entities
  • The company is required to appoint a president
  • The minimum share capital required to establish an SAS is €1

French public limited company (SA)

What is an SA?

  • A Public Limited Company (PLC), known as a Société Anonyme (SA), is designed for large companies in France
  • It is suitable for companies seeking to raise capital from the public
  • Our team at Healy Consultants typically advise our Clients to consider setting up an SA

Essential regulatory requirements for setting up an SA in France

  • The company must choose between two management structures:
    1. A Board of Directors (Conseil d’Administration) with between three and 18 members
    2. A combination of an Executive Board (Directoire), which can have no more than five members, and a Supervisory Board (Conseil de Surveillance) comprising three to 18 members
  • At least three directors and seven shareholders must be appointed
  • The minimum share capital required to establish an SA is €37,000
  • European company (SE)

    What is an SE?

    • A Societas Europaea (SE) is a type of public LLC that allows businesses to operate in multiple European Union (EU) countries under a unified legal structure
    • Clients can avoid the complexity of creating multiple subsidiaries each subject to different national laws
    • The SE can relocate its registered office within the EU without needing to dissolve in one country and reincorporate in another

    Essential regulatory requirements for setting up an SE in France

    • The SE can be formed through the following methods:
      1. Merger: Public LLCs from at least two different EU countries can merge to establish a SE
      2. European holding company: This can be formed by either two public or private limited liability companies from different EU countries, or companies that have operated a subsidiary or branch in another EU country for a minimum of two years
      3. European subsidiary: Companies, firms, or other legal bodies can establish a European subsidiary if at least two of them are from different EU countries, or they have maintained a subsidiary or branch in another EU country for at least two years
      4. Conversion: A public LLC that has had a subsidiary in another EU country for at least two years can convert into a SE
    • The minimum share capital required to establish an SE is €120,000

    Franch branch (branche)

    What is a branch?

    • In France, a branch is not a separate legal entity. Instead, it is treated as part of the foreign parent company
    • The parent company is fully liable for the actions and obligations of the branch

    Essential regulatory requirements for setting up a branch in France

    • The branch office should have an independent management team and corporate bank account based in France
    • No share capital is required to establish a branch in France

    France representative office (bureau de liaison)

    What is a representative office?

    • A representative office, referred to as a bureau de liaison in France, serves as a non-commercial presence for a foreign company
    • It is typically used for engaging in market research and promoting the parent company
    • Companies often establish a representative office as a first step towards entering a foreign market

    Essential regulatory requirements for setting up a representative office in France

    • The representative office cannot conduct sales or any other revenue-generating operations
    • No share capital is required to establish a representative office in France

    Comparison of popular France company types

    LLC PLC Simplified JSC Branch Rep Office
    Also known as SARL SA SAS Branche Bureau de liaison
    How long to set the company up? 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks 3 weeks 2 weeks
    How long to open company bank account? 4 weeks 4 weeks 4 weeks 4 weeks 4 weeks
    Legal liability? Limited Limited Limited Unlimited Unlimited
    Wholly foreign owned? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
    Minimum paid-up share capital? €1 €37,000 €1 €0 €0
    Must file annual corporation tax return? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
    Tax Registration Certificate required? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
    Corporate bank account recommendation BPCE BNP Paribas Societe Generale HSBC HSBC
    Does our Client need to travel? No No No No No
    Resident director required? No No No No No
    Resident shareholder required? No No No No No
    Minimum directors allowed? 1 3 1 1 1
    Minimum shareholders? 1 7 1 0 0
    French resident company secretary required? No No No No No
    Corporate shareholders allowed? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
    Corporate director(s) allowed? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
    Public register of shareholders and directors? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
    France corporate tax rate? 25% 25% 25% 25% 0%
    Annual financial statements required? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
    Statutory audit always required? No No No No No
    Allowed to issue sales invoices? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
    Allowed to sign contracts? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
    Allowed to import and export goods? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
    Can rent an office in France? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
    Can buy France property? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
    Can own equity in other French companies? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
    Estimate of total business setup costs in Yr. 1 €13,946 €16,390 €13,946 €14,790 €12,940
    Estimate of total annual costs thereafter (excl. accounting and tax fees) €4,420 €1,400 €4,420 €1,400 €1,400
    Sample engagement fee Invoice View invoice PDF View invoice PDF View invoice PDF View invoice PDF View invoice PDF

    France company incorporation steps

    Pre-incorporation-steps

    1. Prior to France company incorporation, our Client will need to first settle Healy Consultants Group’s engagement fees, sign our Client Engagement letter, and provide us with all Know Your Customer (KYC) documents. This will include passport copies, proof of address, and details of the company’s intended activities
    2. Healy Consultants Group will then draft a detailed project plan. This plan will outline the week-by-week process and timelines for incorporating in France, optimising transparency and setting clear expectations for our Clients
    3. Next, our Client and Healy Consultants Group will discuss and agree upon the optimal structure of the business, including its shareholders and directors. Healy Consultants Group’s incorporation team will perform a company name check with the French Patent and Trademark Office (INPI) and the Commercial Court Registry, after which we will apply for a Certificate of Uniqueness if required
    4. After the corporate structure is agreed, Healy Consultants Group will prepare the company incorporation forms and the company’s constitution for Client’s signature. All documents can be electronically signed
    5. Healy Consultants Group will assist our Client to open a capital account in France with a trusted commercial bank. Alternatively, our team can assist our Client to open a lawyer’s escrow account. This is a two-step process that involves securing approvals from a commercial bank and the Paris Bar Association. This escrow account opening strategy is suitable for Clients with complex ownership structure that may delay opening a traditional capital bank account

      This is the most challenging part of the engagement and we recommend our Clients to read our guide on France corporate bank accounts to familiarise themselves. Once this is done, our Client will deposit the company’s share capital into the bank account, following which the bank will issue a certificate of deposit. This step can also be completed through a Notary Public.

    6. Before proceeding with the incorporation process, Healy Consultants Group will publish a notice of incorporation in a French newspaper, as required by local regulations. This step is usually completed within one to three working days. Once done, we can proceed with the registration of the business in France

    Incorporation steps

    1. Moving forward, Healy Consultants Group will submit a complete company incorporation application. This application will be processed by the French authorities within two to four working days. As part of the registration process, the entity will also automatically receive a tax number and a VAT number if required. Our Client will not need to travel at any point during this process
    2. After registering the company, our team will send our Client an extract of commercial registrar, known in France as a “Kbis”. This document confirms the registration of the entity, provides its particulars (company name, business activities, place of registration) and the particulars of its directors. It also includes the Siret and Siren numbers that will identify your business to customers and authorities
    3. Once the Kbis is issued, your bank relationship manager will activate your business’ bank account. Your newly registered company may then start using its paid-up share capital for corporate expenses such as employee salaries or office rent

    Post-incorporation steps

    1. The French tax authorities will assign an EU VAT number, which begins with the letters ‘FR’ followed by a 2-digit code and your SIREN number. This VAT number will be valid throughout the EU
    2. Healy Consultants Group can assist our Clients to activate the internet banking facility
    3. Once prepared, all company documents must be submitted to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) for registration in the national business directory. These documents will also need to be sent to the tax office, known as the Centre des Impôts, and the commercial court, or Greffe du Tribunal de Commerce. These information exchanges are done automatically by the French administration. Healy Consultants will however monitor completion of these processes
    4. As required by French business law, Healy Consultants Group will register upon incorporation the internet domain names ending in .fr with the French Internet Names and Cooperation Association and assist our Client to subscribe to a civil liability insurance
    5. Healy Consultants Group will assess the Client’s need to subscribe to an employee retirement plan and other social security organisations. Such registrations are mandatory by law for all employees, French nationals and foreigners alike. We can also register all hired employees with the local labour authorities (URSSAF). Please note that this is a bureaucratic process and may take up to three months to complete
    6. Following engagement completion, Healy Consultants Group will courier a company kit folder to our Client’s preferred international address. This folder will contain the original France company incorporation documents, unopened bank correspondence and a survey for feedback on our services

    France corporate banking services

    Healy Consultants assists our Clients with opening a corporate bank account in France. Our experienced banking team will prepare all requisite documentation on your behalf and submit them to the bank.

    • France boasts a mature and competitive banking system, dominated by 4 French corporations included in the 10 largest European banking groups: i) BNP Paribas ii) Société Générale iii) Crédit Agricole and iv) BPCE. Foreign banks never managed enter successfully the French market, HSBC being the only one with a significant presence in the country;
    • French corporate and personal banking products and customer service are of excellent standard, with notably easy access to i) multiple currencies ii) internet and telephone banking iii) checking accounts iv) saving accounts v) debit and credit cards vi) fixed term deposit and vii) wealth management services;
    • French banks boast the highest rate of financial advisors per Client among main EU countries, enabling them to provide very reactive costumer service;
    • Starting a France company is currently an interesting option to benefit from inexpensive corporate loans, with interest rates averaging i) 2.2% for companies with less than 25 employees and ii) 1.8% for larger companies.

    Healy Consultants banking services

    • Healy Consultants bank account opening team can open the corporate account within 2 weeks of France company formation and obtain internet banking approval within the subsequent week.
    • While our experts will liaise with the banks to prevent our Clients from travelling for the interview, there is still a 50% chance that the bank may require our Clients willing to start a business to travel for a one hour interview in France. There will be a fee discount of €950 if you have to travel;
    • Following bank account approval, the preferred French bank will directly and independently email our Client the corporate bank account number, required to set up his business in France;
    • Healy Consultants will be pleased to open an France corporate account. Our Client will not have to travel for this engagement. It is a time consuming task, Healy Consultants will shelter our Client from the administrative challenges. As you can appreciate, it is a difficult task to obtain bank account approval through a newly formed company, when shareholders and directors and bank signatories reside overseas. Healy Consultants will prepare a business plan for the bank to optimize the probability of corporate bank account approval;
    • Healy Consultants may also assist to open an additional international corporate bank account with a top tier bank, outside of France. Examples include London, New York, Germany, Bulgaria, South Africa, Australia, or Dubai. It is a time consuming task and our fee for this service is €5,950 without travel or €2,550 with travel. All banks will be top tier banks in these countries with excellent internet banking services.

    Opening a French corporate bank account

    • Before setting up a business in France, a foreign entrepreneur should inform himself the different banking options available, as French banking fees vary considerably compared to other EU countries. Healy Consultants recommends our Clients to choose HSBC, Société Générale, BPCE and BNP Paribas for French corporate bank account solutions;
    • All these banks also provide tailored solutions for foreign entrepreneurs willing to set up a small business in France;
    • Documents required to open a corporate account for a company in France are i) a valid passport ii) a proof of address and iii) a Trade Register certificate (Kbis form, given during the process of France company setup);
    • Indicative yearly costs for banking services are: i) bank account maintenance fees – €30 ii) international credit card – €40 iii) international banking transfers – €20 + 0.3% commission iv) checkbook – free iv) ibanking services – free;
    • All businesses in France are entitled to open a corporate account. In case of refusal, a designated bank will have to provide an account with services including i) a debit card and ii) collection of checks and transfers.

    Trade finance in France

    • French banks will consider providing funds to finance investment projects, provided sufficient information is provided. Documents requested include i) a well-prepared business-plan, inclusive of a feasibility study ii) availability of collateral assets iii) qualifications of business owners and management iv) last 3 years audited financial statements and v) a detailed review of the project’s strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threat (SWOT matrix);
    • Healy Consultants will help our Clients obtain corporate finance in the form of a loan, overdraft or simply preferential credit terms;
    • Our in-house experts may also provide our Clients with assistance to secure trade finance services in France including i) bank guarantees ii) letters of credit iii) finance against trust receipt (for imported goods) and iv) document against payment and against acceptance.

    Exchange controls and other regulation

    • Although France does not have exchange controls, notification must still be provided to the Central Bank for monetary transfers over €10,000. This is done to disrupt money laundering activities;
    • All France companies and individuals must disclose their assets detained abroad to the authorities or are subject to penalties including i) a €1,500 fixed fine and ii) a fine representing 5% of assets for each year undeclared.

    Summary of France company taxation

    25%

    corporate tax in France

    20%

    VAT rate in France

    25%

    withholding tax on dividend payments

    25%

    withholding tax on royalties payments

    30th April

    filing deadline for corporate tax return

    123

    signed double taxation treaties

    The effective corporate tax rate can be as low as 9% for larger companies.

    1. French corporation tax is 25% of annual net profits. Small and medium-sized businesses enjoy a reduced tax rate of 15% up to €38,120 of profits. Beyond this threshold, the standard rate applies. Corporation tax is paid in four instalments in March, June, September, and December
    2. Company losses may be carried forward indefinitely. The carry-back of losses is also allowed to the fiscal year immediately preceding that in which the losses arise
    3. In addition to the corporation tax, businesses in France must pay a social contribution tax of 0.16% of the company’s revenue above €19 million and a solidarity contribution tax of 0.13% of net turnover. Small businesses with a turnover less than €7.63 million are exempt
    4. Capital gains are liable for taxation at the standard corporate income tax rate. The tax rate on capital gains varies depending on the asset type and the seller’s taxable income
    5. When a French corporation pays dividends to a non-resident shareholder, these dividends are subject to a 25% withholding tax on the gross amount. However, when dividends are paid to a European parent company, they are exempted from tax, as stipulated by the EU Directive that governs taxation on parent and subsidiary companies in different member states
    6. Royalties paid to a non-resident company or individual suffer withholding tax of 25%. Royalties paid to a European company may be tax-exempt as they fall under the European common system of taxation on royalty payments. If allowed by the double taxation treaty, royalty payments outside the EU may enjoy reduced a withholding tax rate of 15%
    7. Dividends and royalties paid to a loss-making EU company can benefit from a WHT deferral
    8. Outbound interest payments made by French companies do not give rise to French withholding tax, unless they are made to an entity located in a so-called non-cooperative State or Territory (in which case a 75% withholding might apply)
    9. France’s patent box regime allows income derived from the sale or licence of patents or patentable inventions to enjoy a reduced CIT rate of 10%
    10. Branch profits are taxed at the same rate as corporate profits and are typically considered as distributed to the head office. For French branches of non-resident, non-EU corporations, a withholding tax of 25% on net profits is applied, although this rate may be reduced under a tax treaty. Transfer pricing and controlled foreign company rules apply
    11. France levies personal income tax on French residents in respect of their worldwide income, and on non-residents in respect of their French sourced income. The highest personal income tax rate applied in France is 45%
    12. All French and foreign legal entities that own real estate in France, whether directly or indirectly, are required to pay an annual tax of 3% of the property’s market value

    France standard VAT

    1. France’s standard VAT rate on sales of goods and services is currently 20%. VAT applies to the sales price of the supply of goods and services produced in France and on general imports
    2. Exports of goods outside the EU and related services are VAT exempt. Intra-Community supplies of goods are zero-rated
    3. A French company must register for VAT when the sale of goods exceeds €85,800 during the previous year and the supply of professional services exceeded €34,400 during the previous year
    4. VAT filing can be monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on the business activity and the level of both sales and total amount of VAT paid during the previous year
    5. For all companies operating in France, online VAT returns filing is mandatory and must be processed through the French Tax Authorities website by creating a professional account. Along with VAT filing requirements, intra-EU sales and purchases of both goods and services must be reported by filing a monthly Intrastat return for statistical purposes only. The form provides information about product categories, countries of origin and destination, value and weights. These returns must be filed electronically from the dedicated French Customs website

    France company legal and compliance considerations

    1. The French legal annual returns must include a balance sheet, profit and loss statement, management report, and minutes of the annual general meeting approving the accounts and voting the profit allocation
    2. In France, listed companies must prepare their group financial statements in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). All other companies are required to prepare their annual financial statements in accordance with accounting principles promulgated by the French Commercial Code and the General Accounting Chart (Plan Comptable Général; French GAAP), complying with standards issued by the French Accounting Regulation Committee. Non-listed groups may choose to prepare their financial statements in accordance with the Consolidated French GAAP or IFRS
    3. Accounting records must be kept in French. This applies not only to the names of accounts and narrative of entries, but also the method of numbering for business accounts (French Chart of Accounts). This method is in line with tax reporting requirements. Amounts must be recorded and reported in euros
    4. Compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is essential when handling personal data in France. Make sure your company respects the rights of data subjects, secures data properly, and complies with reporting and notification requirements in the event of a data breach
    5. A legal French auditor must be appointed for a duration of six years, whenever two out of the following three thresholds are exceeded: turnover greater than €8 million, total balance sheet above €4 million, or an average staff number exceeding 50
    6. French transfer pricing rules generally follow the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines and principles. Multinational companies with French operations must ensure that their intercompany transaction pricing aligns with the arm’s length standard

    French employee considerations

    1. French personal income tax on employment income is withheld by the employer from the employee’s payroll, at progressive rates up to 45%
    2. Contributions to the social security system are made by employers and employees, with employers contributing 45% of the gross salary and employees paying between 20% to 23% of their remuneration
    3. The two most common types of employment contracts are indefinite-term and fixed-term contracts, both of which can be entered into on either a full-time or part-time basis. Fixed-term contracts cannot be used to fill permanent positions. They are only allowed to fill temporary needs including temporary increase of activity, replacement of absent employees, and seasonal work
    4. The standard weekly working time is 35 hours. Overtime of 25% is paid for the first eight hours and 50% for hours beyond
    5. All employees working in France must join the French national health insurance scheme, regardless of their citizenship and place of residence
    6. Some French tax residents are eligible to the special expatriates’ tax regime
    7. A work permit is required for non-EU nationals to carry out a salaried professional activity in France. Some residence permits allow residency in France and act as work permits
    8. The employee temporary residence permit is relevant to foreign non-EU nationals employed in companies in France. It is valid for one year and can be renewed

    Healy Consultants Group’s fees and timeline to setup France entities

    Healy Consultants fees for France company setup

    For complex and time-sensitive business needs, partnering with an international corporate services company for France business setup becomes essential.

    At Healy Consultants we ensure smooth company formation process and timely operations within France.

    Our average France LLC set up engagement cost is €13,946. This price includes the standard government company registration fees.

    Below is the summary of engagement costs of various French companies

    Different France entity types Cost Draft invoice
    LLC €13,946 View invoice PDF
    PLC €16,390 View invoice PDF
    Simplified Joint Stock Company €13,946 View invoice PDF
    Branch €14,790 View invoice PDF
    Rep Office €12,940 View invoice PDF
    Limited partnership €15,210 View invoice PDF
    Turnkey solution SAS €25,700 View invoice PDF
    Turnkey solution SARL €25,700 View invoice PDF

    Healy Consultants France company setup timelines

    The average France company registration period is 9 weeks as outlined below:

    Service LLC PLC Simplified Joint Stock Company Branch Rep Office Limited partnership
    Engagement planning 1 week 1 week 1 week 1 week 1 week 1 week
    Company incorporation period 2 weeks 3 weeks 2 weeks 4 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks
    Bank account approval 4 weeks 4 weeks 4 weeks 4 weeks 4 weeks 4 weeks
    Corporate internet banking approval 1 week 1 week 1 week 1 week 1 week 1 week
    Engagement completion 1 week 1 week 1 week 1 week 1 week 1 week
    Total engagement period 9 weeks 10 weeks 9 weeks 11 weeks 9 weeks 9 weeks

    France visa services for businesses

    Only non-EU/EFTA citizens are required to secure a work visa in order to work in France. In addition to providing professional France company formation services, Healy Consultants will assist our Clients to prepare visa applications and submit to the local French Consulate.

    France entrepreneur visas

    • Non EU/EFTA entrepreneurs opening a company in France will be required to obtain either i) a residence permit for resident directors or ii) a circulation visa for non-resident directors willing to conduct business in France or another EU country;
    • Documents required for a circulation visa (multiple entries, valid up to five years) include i) a valid passport ii) an excerpt of judicial record and iii) copies of the company’s M&AA;
    • Documents required for a residency permit (valid 1 year then up to 10 years on renewal) include i) a valid passport ii) an excerpt of judicial record iii) a company incorporation certificate and iv) a medical certificate;
    • Foreign investors starting a French company can also apply for an exceptional economic contribution visa (valid up to 10 years) if they are investing i) over €10 million or ii) creating or saving at least 50 jobs in the country.

    France employee visas

    • Employers will be required to apply for a work permit (valid up to 3 years) for hiring a non-EU/EFTA national. This can only be done after company formation in France;
    • Documents to be submitted by the employer include i) a proof of identity for the employee ii) a letter of sponsorship iii) copies of employment contract iv) proofs of educational qualification and v) evidence of efforts to recruit resident candidates;
    • Documents to be submitted by the employee include i) a medical examination certificate ii) a proof of identity iii) a resume iv) educational certificates and v) copy of employment contract.

    France visitor visas

    • This visa is issued for 3 months for the purpose of either tourism or short-term business;
    • Documents required are i) a valid passport ii) bank statements to prove that the entire trip is covered iii) medical insurance iv) proof of accommodation and v) a document declaring purpose of the visit.

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      Background

      France company registration

      • Our Client commenced the incorporation process of a French company intending to provide e-dating services as well as construction and support of high-level dating platforms, mobile applications and websites. The company revenue will be generated through i) monthly and annual subscriptions for e-dating app and ii) advertisement;
      • Following registration of a new company, our Client intended to open a local corporate bank account with one of the local banks to support the payments for his e-dating platform;
      • In accordance with the French Companies Act, a French company doesn’t require its director to ordinarily reside in France. However, Our Client confirmed that the nominee director is а key requirement for the compliance procedure of the acquiring banks and payment processors with whom he was planning to enter into agreement as soon as his French company was created;
      • To comply with the requirements, our Client approached Healy Consultants Group to provide French professional passive nominee resident director services.

      Engagement planning

      • Our Client was informed that our nominees rarely sign documents on behalf of the company. However, if required, our French resident director will sign documents at additional fee of US$1,000 per document;
      • Additionally, our Client was informed that if Healy Consultants Group nominee director must to travel to meet the bank, the flight and hotel costs will be covered by our Client;
      • Our passive nominee resident director will neither be a bank signatory to the bank account, nor be appointed as the Public Officer (PO) nor play and active role in our Client’s business;
      • Healy Consultants Group prepared and emailed our Client an engagement advancement proposal including a formal invoice, engagement letter, due diligence checklist and a list of our existing and past client for professional reference;
      • Our Client promptly provided us with the due diligence documents as per our Compliance requirements and settled our nominee resident director fees for one year in full.

      Appointment of our French professional passive nominee resident director services

      • Within 1 week, Healy Consultants Group prepared and sent i) a Non-executive resident director agreement ii) a Declaration of French company beneficial ownership and iii) Indemnity agreement for our Client’s signature and email return;
      • Thereafter, Healy Consultants Group i) supplied our Client with our French director due diligence documents along with the fully signed nominee agreement and ii) advised our our Client to instruct their company secretary to proceed with appointing our resident director;
      • Within 1 week thereafter, Healy Consultants Group received the incorporation forms from our Client to be signed by our French resident director.

      Engagement completion

      • Healy Consultants Group sent our Client the duly signed incorporation forms to appoint Aidan Healy as their company’s French resident director and the engagement completion email.
    • Global IT technology Company Establishes a Subsidiary in France

      Background

      • Our existing Client is an India based company specializing in developing and providing IT and consulting services in product development and quality assurance. Our Client has subsidiaries and representative offices across the globe including i) APAC (Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Philippines), ii) Europe (United Kingdom, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Belgium and Switzerland), iii) North America (USA and Canada) and iv) Middle East (Dubai and Abu Dhabi). As part of their global expansion project, our Client requested Healy Consultants Group for professional assistance to establish a subsidiary in France;
      • After an initial phone call discussion re the company incorporation in France, our Client settled the total engagement fees with Healy Consultants Group to commence the engagement and supplied complete due diligence documents;

      Engagement planning

      • After a detailed discussion between country expert and our Client, our Client decided to register the subsidiary with following corporate structure i) French company to be subsidiary of a Singapore company; ii) appointment of 2 Indian and 1 UK based directors and iii) injection of paid-up capital of €50,000;
      • Due to our Client’s request to engineer such corporate structure, Healy Consultants Group’s incorporation team recommended to pass a company resolution to appoint the UK based director of the French company as an authorised representative of the Singapore parent company to minimise travel of India based directors;
      • Based on our Client’s corporate structure, Healy Consultants Group prepared a detailed project plan outlining the steps of the engagement and estimated completion timelines to i) complete company incorporation, ii) secure French multi-currency corporate bank account numbers and iii) register the subsidiary with local Tax Authorities to comply with French VAT and tax system;

      Securing a capital bank account

      • Within 1 week, Healy Consultants Group’s incorporation team drafted a quality company constitution and business plan detail explaining i) the business activities of the company ii) expected turnover and banking transactions, and iii) management background of the company. Thereafter, we provided our Client with a business plan and the company constitution for their approval;
      • Upon the confirmation of the business plan and the company constitution, our corporate banking team approached multiple French banks to gauge their interest to onboard our Client’s company;
      • Due to the summer holiday period (mid and late August), French banks were slow at responding and confirming their interest to open capital account for our Client’s subsidiary. For 2 weeks, our corporate banking team aggressively followed up and negotiated with multiple banks and secured a preliminary interest from BNP Paribas;
      • Healy Consultants Group closely liaised with the bank officer and our Client to provide required documents in a timely manner. Healy Consultants Group also liaised with legal professionals to secure a legal opinion required by the Bank to advance the capital account opening process;
      • Having secured the bank’s formal interest to open a capital account, Healy Consultants Group arranged a bank meeting with an international bank’s relationship manager and UK based director of the subsidiary to submit quality corporate bank account opening application at BNP Paribas Paris branch. Our Client then travelled to Paris, France to meet the bank officer and Healy Consultants Group forwarded the bank account numbers to the Client to proceed with capital injection;
      • Within 1 week from the bank meeting and injection of paid-up capital of €50,000, the bank issued a certificate of deposit required for the registration of the subsidiary;

      Incorporation of Société Anonyme à Responsabilité Limitée (SARL)

      • Within 4 working days, Healy Consultants Group’s incorporation team completed the registration of the subsidiary and supplied our Client with an extract of commercial records as a confirmation of the company registration;
      • Within 2 weeks from the registration of the subsidiary, Healy Consultants Group registered the French subsidiary with French Tax Authorities;
      • Thereafter, Healy Consultants Group assisted our Client to convert the capital account into a trading corporate bank account. Internet banking and cheque books were couriered to French registered address of the subsidiary;

      Conclusion

      • Healy Consultants Group successfully effectively completed the French subsidiary setup within 2 months. Thereafter, we mailed the Client complete company kit including i) a complete Client file; ii) corporate documents; iii) a Client feedback survey and iv) arranged a separate courier of corporate bank account e-banking tokens from France to India.
    • Registration of an Trading Company in France

      Background

      • In 2016, one of our existing United States Clients requested our Firm to register their subsidiary in France;
      • Such registration aimed at enabling our Client to invoice its French and European customers with a local entity, for the sales of its IT equipment products (USB sticks, data storage cards etc.).

      Engagement planning

      • Our French Clients Engagement Department Director Mr. Simon Guidecoq recommended the registration of a simplified joint stock company, owned and managed by two USA citizens;
      • While the appointment of a resident director is not legally necessary, we also suggested our Client to pay us for such services, as the appointment of a resident director or tax representative is frequently required by French banks;
      • We also agreed the entity would have an issued capital of €5,000. In accordance with French laws, this amount had to be paid up by our Client before registration of the company with the French Commercial Registrar.

      Corporate bank account opening

      • Our Client had an existing relationship with a multinational bank in the USA and consequently wanted to open the capital account of the entity with the French branch of this bank;
      • Healy Consultants Group helped our Client to put in touch their USA relationship officer with the branch manager of HSBC agency on Champs Elysees;
      • We also assisted our Client to supply all necessary documentation (often in French) for the completion of the capital account opening procedures.

      France company formation

      • After injection of the paid-up capital to the capital account, the French SAS was registered within two business days, with no specific request from the company registrar;
      • We supplied our Client with company numbers and an extract of commercial records (locally known as the KBIS);
      • Due to summer vacations in France, the tax and VAT registrations of the company took a bit longer than expected. After multiple follow-ups by our Firm with the French tax authority, we completed the same within three business weeks;
      • Healy Consultants Group then supplied a pro-forma invoice to our Client, enabling him to start trading with his French company.

    France company formation – Frequently asked questions

    • How long does it take to incorporate a French company?

      Setting up a French company can be completed in about two weeks.

    • How difficult is it to open a corporate bank account for a French company?

      It is very easy to open a corporate bank account with a reputable international bank in the France.

    • Am I required to visit France to incorporate a company there?

      No. Healy Consultants can legally incorporate your France company without you needing to travel.

    • Is a resident director required?

      A director is not required to be a resident in France.

    • What is the minimum number of directors required for a French company?

      A French company needs a minimum of one director.

    • What is the minimum number of shareholders required for a French company?

      A French limited liability company (SARL) requires a minimum of one shareholder.

    • Are shareholder/director details available for public viewing?

      Yes, a register of directors and shareholders is available for public viewing.

    • What are the minimum capital requirements for a French company?

      A minimum capital of 37,000 Euros (approximately US$46,582) is required for the formation of a SA (société anonyme), whereas the minimum capital requirement for a limited liability company (SARL) is 1 € (US$1.27).

    • Is a French company required to submit an annual return and/or financial statements?

      A French company is obliged to submit an annual tax returns and audited financial statements.

    • How much tax does a French company pay?

      A French company is liable to pay a profits tax of 25%.

    • Does a French company need to register for VAT?

      A French company is required to register for VAT, which the standard rate is currently 20%.

    • Is it easy to incorporate a France company?

      Yes. Our Clients are often pleased to find that incorporating a company in France is a straightforward process.

    • How much time does France business incorporation process take?

      Company incorporation in France takes less than 2 weeks on average, once all the documentation requested by the French authorities has been provided.

    • Why should I use a company incorporation specialist to setup a French company?

      French incorporation services providers will not only enable you to save time, but also money. The French tax system is very complicated and the right choice of business entity will allow you to reduce your tax payments. The use of Healy Consultants’ company incorporation services will improve your understanding of the French Tax code, so as to minimize the tax burden.

    • Do I need to travel to France to start a French company?

      No, you will not be required to travel to France to incorporate a company in the country. Healy Consultants can assist you to complete incorporation procedures, provided our Firm receives a Power of Attorney (PoA) for that purpose.

    • Do I need to hire a director ordinarily resident in France for my French subsidiary?

      No, it is not mandatory to appoint a French national or French resident as the director of the company. Still, our Firm recommends our Clients to appoint somebody who at least travels frequently to France to supervise the operations of the company and to liaise with the authorities.

    • What are the different business entity types in France?

      Global entrepreneurs usually setup a Simplified Joint Stock Company (SAS)which provides additional advantages compared to a French LLC (SARL). PLCs (SA) are usually favored by investors with large financing needs and willing to list their company. Branches (branche) are usually chosen by corporates which want to keep 100% control over their subsidiary’s operations. Lastly, representative offices (bureau de liaison) are a smart solution to explore the French market while avoiding its high taxation.

    • Is there any wholly foreign business entity available in France?

      Yes, all business entities that can be setup in France can also be 100% foreign-owned, without prior authorization from the government.

    • How can foreigners setup a limited liability company in France?

      Business setup requirements in France for foreigners and French citizens are the same. Procedures commonly followed to open a company in France, which are described in the 12 steps to incorporate section, henceforth apply.

    • Why should I setup a company in France?

      Business setup in France allows our Clients to tap into the UE’s 2nd largest consumer market. Please see more details in the advantages of France company registration section.

    • How to setup a company in France?

      When setting up a business in France, main steps involved will be i) the creation of a corporation bank account ii) the submission of a detailed application to the Center for Administrative Procedures and iii) the publication of a legal notice of incorporation in the legal gazette.

    • Do I need to obtain a visa to travel to France in order to complete company formation procedures?

      No, Healy Consultants can complete the procedures on your behalf, without any requirement for you to travel in order to complete formation of a France subsidiary.

    • How to open a company in France if I am not allowed to reside in France?

      It is not required neither to reside in France nor to be a French national in order to start a company in the country. By using services provided by Healy Consultants’ France company formation specialists, our Clients avoid the need to travel to France for France company formation.

Contact us

For additional information on our business registration services in France, please contact our in-house country expert, Mr. Simon Guidecoq, directly:
client relationship officer - Simon