Different France business entities in 2022

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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 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? 33% 33% 33% 33% 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 €10,150 €14,790 €12,940
Estimate of total annual costs thereafter (excl. accounting and tax fees) €4,370 €1,400 €1,100 €1,400 €1,400
Sample engagement fee Invoice View invoice PDF View invoice PDF View invoice PDF View invoice PDF View invoice PDF

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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