The French government has made considerable efforts to promote a better entrepreneurial environment in the country, and this has comes as a huge respite to expats, who, in the past, tended to get bogged down by restrictive legislation and tedious processes. Here are 5 things you should know when starting a business in France.
Creating your company
The first step in starting your company in France is to write the statuts or basic laws of the company. These are standardized documents that may be obtained online.You can also have a consultant or lawyer customize them for your company. They contain essential details of your company such as the company address, equity structure and other rules that can come into play in case of certain circumstances, such as if shareholders are permitted to re-invest in case the company receives additional funding. These decisions are likely to impact the future of the business and hence it is important to do them in the right manner. It can save you a lot of money and time in the future. If you’re hiring a lawyer, make sure you get one that has experience with start-up companies.
Your company’s official address
Every business in France must have an official company address, called siege social or head office. This is important since you need to fork out about 200 euros if you want to change this address later. It also requires you to re-file your company’s basic laws. You can use your own home address or that of any of the founders. If you’re sure about your office space, you can use that address too. But remember that startups tend to move base many times in the initial years, so decide on the address that seems most stable. There’s also the option of renting a mailbox that will provide the necessary address proof documents. These usually cost about 30 euros a month and an extra charge if you want them to forward your mail to another address.
Social capital, banking and taxes
The social capital is the sum contributed by all the shareholders of the company. It is the starting capital of the business and must be proportional to the equity mix. This amount is usually kept low.
The social capital must be deposited into a special bank account. To create this account, you are required to submit three copies of your statuts, your passport and those of the other founders if any, address proofs for each founder and the social capital in cash or cheque/check. After a few inquiries, the bank will create a blocked account for your company in which your social capital is deposited. They will also keep a copy of the statuts and stamp the other two and provide you with a letter confirming your bank account and social capital.
The next step is to go to the corporate tax office in the area of your company address where you need to submit a copy of your statuts, get your own copy stamped and receive a letter confirming that you have completed this stage.
Take an appointment at the Chambre de Commerce and show up at on the assigned date and time with all your paperwork such as passports, stamped statuts, address proofs, bank documents and the fee. Upon examination of the paperwork, they may request for more details or if everything is in order, they will accept and put it into processing, which takes about 3 to 5 days.
You will receive papers called Kbis, which are official documents that certify your company as duly registered and therefore as having legal existence. These are required to register yourself as the company owner at the local post office. You need to show your passport too. Once this is done, you can receive registered letters at the company address.
It’s also a good idea to create a stamp for your company. You can get this done at the local office depot. Remember to take the Kbis along as it has the company number, which you need to have on the stamp.
Finally, get an accountant that is efficient and economical. You need to have a good working relationship with your accountant, as you will be working together on a regular basis.