Different France business entities in 2024

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)

What is an SARL?

  • The Société à Responsabilité Limitée (SARL) is one of the most used business entities 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

Contact us

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