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Company Formation France

Updated on Sunday 20th May 2018

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Setting up a company in France can be done in a short amount of time and implies low costs.

Any person - no matter his or her nationality or residency - can be a director or a shareholder in a company in France. Shareholders of a French company can be natural persons or legal entities. The company must have a local registered office and BridgeWest offers this type of service.

A plan containing financial information for the future activities of the company is needed and it can be provided by the specialists from BridgeWest. For the incorporation of a limited company in France, the minimum share capital required is 1 EUR.

The first step when deciding to incorporate a company in France is to choose the company name and submit it to the French Trade Register. After obtaining the name approval, the following stages must be covered in order to benefit from a fast company incorporation procedure:

- the client must present identification documents, such as passport copies, identification cards or driver license of both shareholders and directors and a recent utility bill or a bank statement as proof of residential address and criminal records;

- in order to open a bank account, the above-mentioned documents are required together with the application forms from the bank where the share capital will be deposited. The minimum start-up capital for company incorporation in France is 1 EUR;

- once all documents have been prepared, the company’s articles of association (“statuts”) can be drafted and signed by the shareholders;

- the client is also required to buy an accounting book from authorized stores or from the Commercial Court;

- the last step will be submitting all required documentation with the French Commerce Register.

Bridgewest provides help with:

- drawing up the articles of association that can be signed through power of attorney (French laws require powers of attorney for any public notary proceedings);

- drawing up documents for company incorporation in France: specimen signatures, passport copies, application form required for company registration;

- arranging public notary proceedings (all procedures for company incorporation are done in front of a French public notary);

- providing a registered office in France on demand; the registered office serves as headquarters for the company in France and it will be made public;

- setting up a bank account for the company in France; BridgeWest will help in setting up the share capital bank account, as well as a current bank account once the company is incorporated.

- recommending a French accountant, as accounting services are needed for new businesses in France.

The French limited liability company (Société A Responsabilité Limitée - S.A.R.L.) 

French limited liability companies are mainly chosen by small businesses because they do not require a minimum share capital. Individuals and legal entities are allowed to register limited liability companies and their number is at least two and at most 100. Shareholders will be held liable to the extent of their contributions. Limited liability companies must be registered with the French Trade Register.

The French joint stock company (Société Anonyme - S.A.)

A French joint stock company requires at least seven shareholders who can be individuals or legal entities and a minimum share capital of 37,000 EUR. The French joint stock company must have at least three directors. The liability of the shareholders will be limited to their capital contributions. Shares can be transferred or traded on the stock exchange. The French simplified stock corporation (Société par actions simplifiée - S.A.S.) - The French simplified stock corporation provides its shareholder an easy and fast registration. 

Only two shareholders are required and they will be held liable for the company’s obligations to the extent of their capital contributions. The minimum share capital for a French SAS is 37,000 euro and it also requires a chairman or a president elected by the shareholders. The simplified stock corporation must register with the French Trade Register.

French branch, subsidiary or representative office

Foreign companies are allowed to set up separate enterprises from the parent company, where the foreign company will be a shareholder in a French company. Foreign companies can also open extensions of the parent company in France.

Taxation in France

The standard VAT rate in France is 20%, but reduced rates of 10%, 5.5% and 2.1% are applied to certain products.

The corporate tax in France is 33%.

The tax for dividends paid by French companies to non-resident shareholders is set at 30%, unless exemptions are applied due to double taxation agreements or other regulations, the tax on royalties is set at 33% and there is a zero percent rate on interests.

BridgeWest is also able to offer ready-made French companies and VAT registration.

Please contact us for more information about how to open the company in France and prices. Our local company formation specialists will offer you details and professional assistance.


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