France

Starting a Business in

France

Below is a detailed summary of the bureaucratic and legal hurdles faced by entrepreneurs wishing to incorporate and register a new firm in France. It examines the procedures, time and cost involved in launching a commercial or industrial firm with up to 50 employees and start-up capital of 10 times the economy's per-capita gross national income.

This information was collected as part of the Doing Business project, which measures and compares regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business in 189 economies. The most recent round of data collection was completed in June 2013.

Compare France to 188 other economies.

  • Standardized Company

  • Legal Form: Société à Responsabilité Limitée (SARL) - Limited Liability Company
  • Paid in Minimum Capital Requirement: EUR 1
  • City: Paris
No. Procedure Time to Complete Associated Costs
1 Check name for uniqueness with the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle (INPI)

Although it is not legally mandatory to check the proposed company name for uniqueness before registering a company, this procedure is included because legal consequences may follow if this step is omitted. If the name is not checked, the company risks a lawsuit by another company. The name can be checked online. A summary check is free of charge, but fees are charged for copies of trademark filings found. For an optional search of similar trademarks, fees are EUR 40 for three classes and EUR 400 for all classes.
Less than one day (online procedure) no charge (unless deeper research is made, for example, by field of activity)
2 Deposit the initial capital

Within 8 days of the collection of all funds, the initial capital must be deposited with a notary public, the bank, or the Deposit and Consignment Office (Caisse des Dépôt). The initial capital is blocked during the registration period and released upon presentation of a K-bis form.
1 day no charge
* 3 Publish a notice of incorporation of the company

This notice must provide the name of the company and its manager (gérant), share capital, and registered office. The founder needs only a letter from the legal journal confirming the planned publication. The publication fee is EUR 5.48 (VAT excluded) per line of 40 characters.
1 day, simultaneous with Procedure 2 EUR 5.48 per line of 40 characters (assuming 30 lines)
4 File a request for a company’s registration with the Centre de Formalités des Entreprises (CFE)

The Centre de Formalités des Entreprises (CFE) handles all formalities related to the trade register in the court (RCS, Tribunal de Commerce), statistics (INSEE), tax authorities (Centre des Impôts), social security (URSSAF), labor (Direction Departemental du Travail et de L’emploi), health insurance (Caisse regionale D’assurance Maladie), unemployment insurance, pension, Employment Pole (Pole Emploi), and similar bodies. This includes the registration of the company bylaws with the tax administration. Company articles of association and bylaws, lease, attestation of receipt of funds, documents concerning the manager, ad hoc forms, evidence of publication, and so forth, must be filed in a single file. After receiving the request, the CFE must process the documents and transfer them to the respective offices and authorities. If the request is incomplete, the CFE has 15 days to return the documents for completion. The CFE automatically enters the information in the Registre Nationale des Entreprise (Répertoire SIRENE) and obtains identification numbers from the RNE: 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 SIRET is used, among other things, by the tax authorities.

Since the Dutreil Law, the CFE or the Commercial Registry can deliver a receipt for company creation (récepissé de creation d’entreprise) as soon as they have received the documents, so that the company can start operations without having to wait for its RCS number.

The principle of electronic company registration was enacted by Law 2003-721 (August 1, 2003) and implemented under Decree No. 2005-77 (February 1, 2005). However, a hard copy file is still required. As of Decree No. 2006-679 of June 9, 2006, the founder has the option to file either with the CFE or directly with the Companies Registry (greffe), which subsequently files the documents with the CFE on the company's behalf. This option is slightly less costly because the CFE service fees are excluded. However, the founder must register the company's bylaws with the tax administration in person.
4 days EUR 83.96 paid to the trade register in the Commercial court
* 5 Buy company books (minute books, inventory books, ledgers). Have company books stamped and initialed by the clerk of the commercial court

Special accounting company books must be bought from the court or specialized stores. The books have numbered pages or numbered sheets, both of which must be certified by the Commercial Court). If a book with numbered pages is used, the certification is made only once (when the company is incorporated). If numbered sheets are used, the certification must be made for the minutes of shareholders’ meeting. If an accounting book is used, the certification must be made once each fiscal year. Therefore, for practical reasons books are often used. In theory, it is possible to have an electronic minute book provided that the procedure to draft the document is secured (to avoid document modification once it is drafted). Such a solution is rarely used because a secured procedure has not been clearly defined and the commercial court certification is more complicated in that case. It is possible for the company to acquire the book later, after it starts operation.
1 day, simultaneous with Procedure 4 EUR 45 for three books (EUR 15 per book) + EUR 3.11 stamping fee
* Takes place simultaneously with another procedure.

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