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Company Registration in France

Company Registration in France

Updated on Monday 18th April 2016

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Company registration in France is overseen by the French Center for Business Formalities (Centre de Formalités des Entreprises - CFE) - this is the institution that handles the applications for registering French companies and manages the entire process. The CFE can also handle the registration for the Register of Commerce and Companies. 
Any type of company in France must be registered with the relevant authorities and our French lawyers can help you throughout the entire business registration procedure.

Registering a company in France

The first step for registering a French company is to verify if the chosen name is available. If the name can be used, a bank account needs to be opened for the company and the initial capital must be deposited.
All the necessary documents for company registration in France are submitted at the French Center for Business Formalities. All the documents are filed in the same place and by requesting the services of the CFE, investors benefit from a simplified business incorporation procedure. 
The registration of a new French company must be made according to the type of business the company will engage in:
- commercial companies with no artisan activities are registered at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry;
- artisans and companies that engage in activities that involve various crafts need to register at the Chamber of Trade;
- commercial agents and non-trading companies must register at the Registry of Commerce;
- companies that engage in agricultural activities must register at the Chamber of Agriculture.
Each company must obtain the Kbis extract from the Register Commerce and Companies (RCS). This is a document that unifies all the information the company is obliged to report. It attests the legal existence of the company.

Types of companies in France

According to French law, there are several types of structures that can be formed in the country. Detailed below are the types of companies that can be opened by foreign investors and nationals in France:
The limited liability company (SARL): the most commonly used type of company, mainly because of the liability which is limited to the amount of contributions. The requirements for share capital are minimal: 1 EUR.
The joint-stock company/public limited company (SA): it is suited for medium or large companies and required more founders. It has a board of directors and a company director and must comply with requirements for auditing. The minimum share capital for this legal entity is 37,000 EUR.
The simplified joint stock company (SAS): similar to a SA but no requirements for a large minimum share capital apply it must have at least two partners and it is most flexible than the SA: the partners can freely organize the operation of the company.
The single-member limited liability company (EURL) is a particular category of SARL with only one member. It is very similar to the limited liability company but the company taxation is different in this case.
The general partnership (SNC) is formed by at least two associates who are jointly and severally liable for the debts and obligations of the partnership. Other types of partnerships in France include the professional partnership or the professional partnership with limited liability.
The experts at our law firm in France can help you choose the right business type for our needs. The particularities of each company must be taken into consideration not only for incorporation matters but also for the future evolution of the company.

Legal assistance during company registration in France

Our French lawyers can direct you to the appropriate CFE body, according to the type of commercial activity you want to set up in France.
Any new company in France is given a business registration number, a SIRET number (with 14 digits) which also contains the company’s SIREN number (the first 9 digits of the SIRET number). An APE code is also given to any company: it is a five figure code that identifies the business activity. VAT registration will also be required, according to the types of commercial activities you wish to perform.
The company registration procedure in France takes at least five days and on average one week, depending on the type of company. If you need more information or assistance for registering your company in France, please contact our law firm in France.


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