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Setting up a small company in France

Posted by Exclusive-189058 - Created: 16 years ago
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9 replies (Showing replies: 1 to 9)

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Posted by charles-188323 - 16 years ago

May I firstly wish you luck with the challenge before you. Regarding Insurance advice I would recommend from my own experience to make contact with Christina who speaks perfect English and looks after their Axa office in Nice. tel: 04 93 96 93 13.




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Posted by mike-179830 - 16 years ago

Exclusive: a few points:

You don't have to do any courses at allDo you really want unlimited, joint and several liability?

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Posted by mikeh-182539 - 16 years ago

Sometimes I don't understand the negativity of some responses here.

I am currently working on setting up a business in France and have found the poeple at INVESTINFRANCE.ORG to be incredible in terms of service, advice and follow-up towards my goal of establishing my business in France.

I would highly recommend taking advantage of the services of  this agency.  After contacting many EU country's economic development, I can honestly say that France's group is head and shoulder's above the rest with timely and highly relevant responses and, quite frankly, a great package of assistance, both financially and in terms of helping you through all the red tape, planning and so on.

I was concerned at the outset about red tape (I'm not even an EU citzen and am proposing only a small operation), but have been overwhelmingly pleased at the impeccable service from this organization thus far.

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Posted by Exclusive-189058 - 16 years ago

Thanks to everyone for their help, having looked through the APCE website, have found what looks like a company formation that will suit us called a Societe en Nom Collectif (SNC for short) does anyone have experience of this type of company or know any pitfalls.  Because of the nature of the business we do not require premises and would hope that we can run it from home base.  The business training course mentioned by Mike - question do all partners have to do it and how proficient does your French have to be as one of the partners will need a crash course when they arrive in France.

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Posted by mike-179830 - 16 years ago

As I understand it, a bureau de liaison, has premises (or employs at least two people) and must be registered with the RCS.

You're talking about a représentant sans activité commerciale, who doesn't have to be registered with the RCS but does have to register themself with the appropriate bit of URSSAF, presenting them with a copy of the job contract (from the overseas company) and forms MO and MO'. These get you a SIRET number and also get your details sent to the appropriate bits of the social services.



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Posted by pebbles-183673 - 16 years ago

I was told by the Chambre de Commerces that a bureau de liaison can be run from home and doesn't require any paperwork/registration to be done. This seems totally unbelievable to me given how the French system works!! Can anyone confirm this?

They said as long as I don't receive anyone at home, or have any accounts here then it's ok.


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Posted by mike-179830 - 16 years ago

(Caveat: I am not a lawyer or an accountant. Seek professional advice before spending money)

It's not THAT complicated, although it is much more complex than in many other countries.

Firstly, you can be self-employed. You need to be registered with various authorities before you can trade and the authorities vary depending on what you want to do. Simply put, the French system distinguishes between three types of self-employed people:

Artisans (who make things with their hands)Commercants (who sell things other people have made)Professions Libérales (doctors, lawyers and, um, Web designers and their ilk... I suppose "knowledge workers" would be a very now term)

Within this, some activities are restricted, and may only be practiced by people who have appropriate qualifications and experience, with the evidence of this (typically) being accepted for membership of the appropriate professional organisation. Restricted professions include some obvious ones (doctor, nurse...) and some less obvious (journalist, labourer, real-estate agent...). Some also carry certain obligations, such as the hefty insurance bond that real-estate agents must post.

Depending on how much money you expect to make, you may choose to set up as a microentreprise (which is the simplest and cheapest fiscal régime) or under various other taxation systems. You may (or may not) need to be registered for TVA.

Having worked out roughly what you want to be, it's probably best to get the advice of a competent accountant. If you speak good French, alternatively, try your local Chambre de Commerce or Chambre des Métiers (thee latter for artisans) where you will get good advice.

Next up is the limited liability company. Again, there are various options although the two that are most likely to be of interest are the SARL and the EURL. Both are essentially identical except that an EURL has only one shareholder while an SARL has more than one. There is a minimum (paid-up) capital requirement of €7500, some of which will be tied up for a while, a whole bunch of paperwork to fill in and, again, you'd be best off talking to a good accountant and/or the Chambre de Commerce. With three partners, this may well be the way you want to go...

Alternatively, you can create your company overseas and have a local office for this foreign entity. This can be either a "liaison office" (if it's simply being used, say, to publicise your activities to the local market) or a "branch office" (if you are trading with the local market). Both are comparitively simple and inexpensive to set up. I gather that this apprach is actually being used by increasing numbers of French-owned businesses since it gives them a legal trading entity in France along with the greater flexibility that a limited liability company registered in England, Ireland or Delaware (say) can have - particularly important if you are planning to bring in additional partners or outside investment. Downside: paying for and managing two sets of accounts and having to operate in two jurisdictions. Again, talk to the Chambre de Commerce (my experience is that local accountants are not too familiar with the liaison/branch office approach and so tend to steer you towards something with which they are more comfortable).

One thing to remember is that the Chambre de Commerce charges a flat fee for setting you up; accountants charge by the hour. In my experience this means that the Chambre's staff see far less potential complexity in any given situation than accountants.

And for professional insurance, simply talk to your insurance agent of choice.

"The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur"
- George W. Bush (allegedly)


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Posted by Fancypaws - 16 years ago

Setting up a small company in France

Of course it does depend on what you intend to do with your company which could make a difference?

I set up my own Enterprise Artisan/Commercant just because I didn't know any better 'Duh' and no-one told me not to, and about all the paper work that comes with it! Actually it was not all that difficult and it did not cost hardly anything. I did my 30 hour business course at the Chambre de Metiers and registered (with a bit of help from them)

I still remember my first 2 million papers sent to me from Mr. IMPOTS, etc, couldn't figure them out so I just signed them and enclosed my publicity flyer with a nice picture of a cute poodle on it.

 I quickly found a good accountant and now he takes care of all the 2 million papers

Then I decided to put up a web site to sell products online so I went to the Chamber of Commerce - that was OK too except I had to have a couple of documents translated to get my new Kbis.

If you really want to do something  - go for it!

For me so far so good and I'm doing quite well with my Internet business!

Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it now! Action has magic, grace and power in it!

Evelyn Miller

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Posted by lespalmiers - 16 years ago


It depends  . . . . what will you be doing? Where will you all be living? What nationality are you? I know someone that can guide you through every step and complete the necessary French paperwork and all for a reasonable fee. You will also get some straight-forward advice on the tax implications . . . . . .


Regards, Les