How to start a business in France?

Do you want to start your own business in France? Today it is not so difficult. The activities of foreign businessmen today are perceived as investments that in the future will contribute to the development of the country’s economy, and accordingly, this is encouraged by French legislation.

Knowledge of business laws is a necessity.

Pros of doing business in France:

  • Stability of the country’s economy for doing business
  • Business development prospects
  • Opportunity to obtain a residence permit in France
  • The prestige of doing business in France

Company registration deadline:

1.5-3 months.

The main organizational and legal forms of legal entities in France:

EURL (Entreprise Unipersonnelle à Responsabilité Limitée) – Limited liability company with one shareholder

  • The number of participants consists of one person.
  • Authorized capital at the discretion of the company owner

SARL (Societe à responsabilité Limitée) – Limited Liability Company

  • authorized capital 7500 euros (to be paid in full upon registration)
  • the number of shareholders is from 2 to 5
  • Only annual reports of companies with an authorized capital of more than 232,500 euros are subject to inspection by auditors

EI (Entreprise Individual) – Individual enterprise

  • no minimum capital; the amount is determined by the co-founders when drawing up the charter
  • the owner is liable with all his property for the obligations of the enterprise
  • the company is not subject to public liability

SA (Societe Anonyme) – Public corporation

  • company capital 37,000 euros
  • public placement of new shares is allowed
  • The paid-up capital must be 50% of the principal contribution at any time during the first 5 years
  • at least 7 shareholders
  • To announce a public subscription for shares, you must have an authorized capital of at least 225,000 euros
  • the administrative board must consist of a minimum of 3 members (if there is a supervisory board, then the administrative board can consist of 1 person, provided that the capital of the company does not exceed 37,000 euros), and a maximum of 12 members (if there is a supervisory board of 5 members)

SAS (Société par actions simplifiées) – Simplified joint stock company

  • there is no minimum capital, sufficient capital is required to finance long-term expenses; the amount is determined by the company’s charter
  • public offering of new shares is not permitted, but offers to accredited investors are permitted
  • The paid-up capital must be 50% of the principal contribution at any time during the first 5 years
  • Co-founders/shareholders: at least one (SAS unipersonnelle) natural or legal person.

The most common forms of doing business are EURL Limited liability company with one shareholder and SARL Limited Liability Company.

A mandatory expense item is income tax.

Necessary steps to open your business in France:


  • You need to get a “merchant card”
  • Obtain a visa for temporary stay in the country
  • A complete package of documents is submitted to the Russian consulate: identification documents, a business plan and other constituent documents necessary to open your business (Which documents will be needed in your case will need to be clarified directly at the consulate or with experienced lawyers)

Merchant card in France (Carte de sejour commercant/Carte de commercant):

Gives a Russian citizen the right to legally engage in commercial activities in France. The card allows the owner of a small business in France and his family members to request a residence permit. To obtain a merchant card, you must create your own enterprise in France.

Persons who have previously been convicted, as well as persons who have been subject to various sanctions or declared bankrupt, cannot receive this card. Some types of business (for example, Travel Agent, Real Estate Agent, etc.) require an additional license – a professional card.

Resident card:

A residence permit is issued for 1 year with the right of subsequent annual renewal for an unlimited period. After 3 years, it is possible to obtain a resident card valid for 10 years.


  • It is necessary to check the name of the organization for uniqueness (Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle (INPI)) The name can be checked online on the website
  • Deposit the minimum capital into the bank. The minimum capital is blocked during the registration period, the blocking is removed upon submission of the K-bis form
  • Publish an announcement about the establishment of a company
  • Apply for company registration to the Center for Business Registration (Centre de Formalités des Entreprises, CFE)
  • It is necessary to register the organization with the Center for Enterprise Registration (Centre de Formalités des Entreprises, CFE). The center handles all formalities regarding trade registration in: the court (RCS, Tribunal de Commerce), statistics authorities (INSEE), tax authorities (Centre des Impôts), social security authorities (URSSAF), labor authorities (Direction Departemental du Travail et de L’ emploi), health insurance (Caisse regionale D’assurance Maladie), unemployment insurance, pensions, and other authorities.

Statutory documents, lease agreement, formal confirmation of receipt of funds, documents regarding the manager, all necessary forms (as appropriate), evidence of publication of the establishment of the company, etc. must be provided as a single file. After receiving the documents, the CFE must begin processing them and forward them to the appropriate authorities. If the application is incomplete, CFE will return the documents within 15 days for completion. The CFE automatically enters the information into the register (Registre Nationale des Entreprise (Répertoire SIRENE)) and the company is assigned a register identification number – SIRENE number (Systéme Informatique pour le Répertoire des Entreprises), SIRET number (Systéme Informatique pour le Répertoire des Etablissements), and NAF number (Nomenclature des Activitees Francaises).

The CFE can provide the company formation document (récepissé de creation d’entreprise) as soon as it has received the documents, so the company can start operating before receiving the RCS number.


  • It is necessary to create all the necessary documentation for the company: minutes log, accounting book, accounting book. All documents must be stamped and initiated by the Clerk of the Commercial Court.

The procedure for registering a company requires the participation of a lawyer. Today, registration can cost about 2,000 euros, in addition to this, additional costs may include:

Maintenance of a bank account – up to 50 euros per month.

Accountant – from 250 euros per month.

Legal or postal address – from 55 euros per month.


A mandatory expense item is income tax.

Profit from 38,000 to 120,000 euros per year – tax 15%

Profit above the specified amount – tax 33.33%

VAT is paid once a month or once every three months. The average tax rate is 19.6%.

According to French law, it is not possible to immediately dispose of the income of your company. You can receive your own profit as a salary, respectively, once a month, or once a year as dividends.

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