French Company Formation

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Introduction to company formation France

France has been slower than many of its EU counterparts to embrace a truly liberal business culture. At the same time, it has aggressively sought to attract foreign investment – and with considerable success. One result is that French company formation is now very simple and straightforward, although local advice is essential in order to ensure compliance with legal and financial regulations. For further information about registering a company in France, please contact us.

**Click here to find out if your company name is available in France**

What is the best way to deal with company registration France?

There is no fixed pattern for French company formation. Options range from opening a small Representative Office (bureau de liaison), through to acquiring an existing company or setting up a new business from scratch.


Is a foreign-owned company at a disadvantage?

To some extent. Unless foreign identity is part of the marketing strategy, most foreign investors prefer to adopt a fairly low profile and project a local image. An easy way to do this is simply to acquire a local company.


What is the most common type of French company formation?

There are three main forms of business entity to incorporate in France:

  • Business Corporation – Societé Anonyme (SA)
  • Specialists Limited Company – SARL
  • Simplified Stock Corporation – SAS

Our French company formation specialists are able to answer any questions that you might have.


What are the requirements for an SA company?

  • The minimum share capital is €37,000, of which at least half must be paid up
  • The company must have at least seven shareholders
  • Shareholders are liable up to the limit of their capital contribution
  • Services accounts must be audited in line with statutory requirements
  • Top managers are treated as employees for tax and social security purposes


What are the requirements for a SARL company?

  • The minimum share capital was recently reduced to €1.00
  • The minimum number of shareholders is one
  • Shareholders are liable up to the limit of their capital contribution
  • Accounts must be audited in line with statutory requirements
  • Top managers have more onerous tax and security rules than SA managers


What is an SAS company?

The Societé Par Actions Simplifieé (Simplified Stock Company) is a relatively new type of entity in France. It is a vehicle for creating a joint venture between a local company and a foreign partner. Previously, companies in France had found it difficult to enter into joint-venture relationships with foreign companies because of the rigidity of their corporate law. However SAS companies are increasingly finding favour with foreign investors, particularly in the USA, who wish to set up subsidiaries in France.


What are the requirements for an SAS company?

  • The minimum share capital is €37,000, of which half must be paid up
  • The company must have at least two shareholders and a chairman
  • Shareholders are liable up to the limit of their capital contribution
  • There is no need for a board of directors


Company Formation France

How easy is it to recruit staff?

Recruitment itself is reasonably straightforward, but French labour laws are very complex, much more so than in most other EU countries:

  • Employment contracts for a fixed term are only permissible in a limited number of situations.
  • Certain collective agreements negotiated at national level are automatically applicable to certain commercial and industrial sectors.
  • In other sectors, such agreements are only applicable when agreed to by the employer.
  • Collective agreements cover all workers, whether or not unionised.

It is essential to take legal advice before offering or entering into any kind of employment contract. We have a carefully selected team of legal and recruitment specialists based in France to help with your French incorporation. For more details, please contact us.


What is the regulatory environment like?

France has a well-developed legal and regulatory system broadly similar to that in other EU member states. There are few restrictions on setting up companies, except in certain areas such as banking and insurance, and there is no restriction on imports or capital from abroad. However state ownership is still a significant feature of the local economy, particularly in infrastructure industries and some restrictions still apply. Furthermore, the legal system is slow and expensive, which underlines the importance of securing good legal advice from the outset. Our team of local legal specialists can offer help with any French incorporation, so please contact us for more details.


Are there financial incentives available – and what about banking facilities?

A world-class international banking network exists, and there is a wide range of financial institutions with expertise in arranging financial transactions and transfers. The first step to set up business in France should be to establish a local bank account – we can arrange this for you.

In addition to commercial bank loans, various types of assistance to new businesses may be available. These grants and loans from local authorities help with finding sites, shared cost access to support services, tax incentives and grants for innovative new companies.


How easy is it to close a French company?

Please click here for further details and services on closing a company.


To talk to a France formation specialist call us on

+44 (0)208 421 7470,

Speak to us live on Live Chat,

or simply fill in the enquiry form below and we’ll get back to you.



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Company Name Check Service

In France, company names have to be approved first to see if they are acceptable as well as available for use. They will only be rejected if they are the same or similar phonetically or in spelling of an existing company or if the name implies state ownership or sponsorship. Certain words such as Insurance, bank or group may require special permissions. However, France has different administrative areas which may mean that a company name can be accepted and used within a singular area but not the whole country and some administrative courts may approve the name for commercial use but not put it on the register of names in use. Click here to fill in our form and get your name checked now…