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)
The 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
|LLC||PLC||Simplified Joint |
|Also known as||SARL||SA||SAS||Branche||Bureau de liaison|
|How long to set the company up?||2 weeks||3 weeks||2 weeks||4 weeks||2 weeks|
|How long to open company bank account?||4 weeks||4 weeks||4 weeks||4 weeks||4 weeks|
|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|
|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?||33%||33%||33%||33%||0%|
|Annual financial statements required?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Statutory audit required?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||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||€13,790||€16,390||€13,790||€14,790||€12,940|
|Estimate of total annual costs thereafter (excl. accounting and tax fees)||€1,400||€1,400||€1,400||€1,400||€1,400|
|Sample engagement fee Invoice|
Frequently asked questions
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 are usually chosen by corporates which want to keep 100% control over their subsidiary’s operations. Lastly, representative offices 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.