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Starting a business in France: how to do?

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Are you ready to take your biggest leap as an entrepreneur and start your business in France?

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Elizabeth M.
Apr 12, 23 · min read
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Starting a business in France-The basics

Did you know that France is open to foreign investors owning businesses? Yes that’s right!

Entrepreneurs can set up their businesses in France even without a French citizenship. However, as a foreign investor, you’re required to have a registered office address in France. In addition, foreign investors from a country outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland need a residence permit or long-stay visa. Here is how residents and foreign investors can start.

Write a French business plan

Is a business plan essential when starting a company in France? Yes, in fact it's an essential guide through each stage of your project. Whether you plan to start a small subsidiary or go big, a plan in French will clarify your business’ vision and detail how you will run it.

This is because it describes your mission, highlights the employee and financial requirements, and details a marketing plan.

For foreign and local investors to come on board, this is paramount. Most importantly, French bank account managers will require it for you to secure a commercial loan from the bank.

Choose the structure of your company

Choosing the legal structure is the next big step. In France, there are different forms that include;

  • EURL — This structure runs as a single-shareholder company owned by one person.
  • SARL— This is the French equivalent of a limited liability company or LLC.
  • SA — Companies that have a lot of shareholders and want to go public on the stock exchange.
  • SAS — A Simplified Stock Company ideal for foreign investors.
  • Branch — if you want to extend your existing companies and open an office or factory in France.

Once you're done, proceed to register your company’s by-laws with a formation agent or lawyer. The registration centre will depend on the goods and services your business is offering.

Set up your company's bank account in France

All companies require a bank account. And yes you can opt to open one remotely or visit the bank personally.

At this stage, your written plan will come in handy. French bank account managers can be very specific about who they allow to open an account due to strict rules on money laundering.

Fund your bank account with Capital

For EURL, SA, and SARL, the minimum share capital is now capped at 1EUR as opposed to 37,000 EUR previously. However, banks will require more than this to set up your account.

Regardless, share capital is working capital and can be withdrawn at any time once the bank receives Kbis, your new company’s certificate.

Incorporate your business in France

This largely depends on the corporate structure. Start by choosing a registered office of the company.

Did you know you can opt for domiciliation services in France? Yes, that's true. Domiciliation companies such as SeDomicilier offer an ideal registered virtual office hence cutting your rent expenses tremendously.

The company has various addresses in prestigious locations in Paris. Next, you need to draft the articles of association preferably using the services of a professional.

Aside from articles, you need a utility bill as proof of address, valid IDs of shareholders, a completed registration form, and social security card to register. These documents will be sent to various administration offices such as.

  • National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies
  • Centre des Impôts( Tax office)
  • Greffe du Tribunal de Commerce

To ascertain you're paying the right wages and pension to your employees, you are required to register with the social security office. Once you register, all your documents will receive official stamps to formalize your company's incorporation in France. Apart from offering office addresses, SeDomicilier offers you all the legal support you need in all stages of the company's creation in France.

Receive a certificate of incorporation

After successful registration and incorporation, you will receive your Extrait Kbis- certificate of incorporation. This will be accompanied by a SIRET and SIREN number unique to your company. These must be displayed on the website, invoices, and documents. When registration is complete, you need to legally announce your new French enterprise through authorized newspapers such as Le Parisien or Les Echos.

Cultural factors to consider

Are there cultural factors to consider when you set up a company in France? Yes, the French can be highly attached to their culture even in work-related situations.

  • Cultural preferences for food, fashion, and arts
  • Knowledge of local language for marketing and branding
  • The social organization
  • Religion
  • Level of education
  • Material culture

Economic factors to consider

Before you set up your company in France, consider;

  • Tax rate- Is the tax rate high? If yes, does the government have a tax incentive program for your corporate form?
  • Demand and supply- Are your goods and services in high demand?
  • Law and policies- Does the law affect how your enterprise will run?
  • Interest rates- Will the interest rate affect your cost of borrowing?
  • Labour requirements -are there enough employees to work?

If you need more help for all your business needs in France, you will find companies with expertise in virtual office that can help you with the various administrative procedures. SeDomicilier is the leader of company formation and virtual office in France. With their expertise, they are the ideal partner to ensure a smooth and successful journey in starting a business. 

They offers a range of services, from professional business addresses to comprehensive administrative support, helping you navigate the complexities of French business structures. By entrusting your business requirements to SeDomicilier, you can focus on building your vision while ensuring compliance with legal requirements.

company formation in france

How to choose the best legal structure in France

The legal structure of French companies determines tax rates, capital requirements, paperwork, management, and more. It, therefore, goes without saying choosing between SA, SARL, and EURL is crucial. Here is how to opt for the best corporate structure in France.
HowTo step image

1. Focus on flexibility

Does the legal structure align with your vision and objectives? If yes, does it allow growth?

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