Setting up a company in France

Case Study 1

Q: We want to set up a SARL in France, a subsidiary of our UK business, within the next 10 days. We will put the minimum capital in from day 1 to incorporate the business. We will not be employing any staff initially, but using contractors. What do you need from me to start?

A: First of all, in France it takes more time than in UK to create a company – about 2 weeks from the receipt of all legal documents signed. We will be able to send you all incorporation documents in the middle of next week if you can send me the documents we need before next Tuesday. In France, you have to sign all legal documents and open a bank account before the incorporation to lodge your paid up capital first.

In order to draft memorandum and articles, we need:

  • A copy of passport for each directors & shareholders + a proof of home address (utility bills) Civil status of each one (married, single, divorced…)
  • Proof of registered address for the new company or a domiciliation contract signed with us
  • Affidavit signed by the legal Director(s)
  • 50% of our fixed fee for the package of registration
  • Certificate from the Bank justifying that the paid up capital has been lodged at the Bank

We advise you to put a minimum of 100€ but it really depends upon the type of business you wish to set up, and the type of financial expectations you have from Banks ( legal requirement 1 Euro). After fixing the amount, we need to know how many shares will be distributed to each shareholder to write it precisely in your French Memo & Arts.

If you use subcontractors & not produce yourself anything, we will register your company to the Companies House directly without going through the process of registration with the Chamber des “Métiers”. In France, Companies Houses are numerous because there is one existing per region, and not only one for the whole country like in the UK.


Case Study 2

Q: We are a Japanese company which imports French and American paints in order to sell them in the gallery. We need to create a liaison office in Paris as soon as possible to transfer overthere one of our employee. In order to lower the expenses, our company wants to rent a flat on my behalf. It will be both my office and my place of residence.

I would like to know the conditions for registering a company because it seems too complicated for me. Could you help me please for the procedures?

A: Some points must be clarified: First, I invite you to get an appointment with the French Embassy in Japan and bring to them a copy of your employment contract as well as a letter confirming your transfer to France. It has to refer to your motivation and your strong skills. You will need to obtain first a work permit for France & a visa. After getting these documents, we need a translated copy of your employment contract & letter confirming the transfer in French or in English. The Employment law requires that we inform French social bodies about any employees transferred to France even if not submitted to French payroll and French social contributions during the first year ( renewable).

I would appreciate if you could give me more details about your activity in France in order to advise your company about the best legal structure to go to on a tax point of view : resident or non resident activity.