I’m self-employed. What type of company should I set up in France?

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Some of the most common questions we get asked at Maupard are; what are the company structures in France? What are the pros and cons of each one? Which one is right for my business?

There are many different options and lots of things to consider. In this article, we’ll explain the main characteristics of each company structure, which to choose, and why.

Before you set up your business in France, you first need to make sure you are eligible to do so. This means having the right visa to come and work in France. For incoming investors from the European Union, (and for countries like Switzerland), you do not need a permit to live or work in France. However, if you are coming from outside the EU, whether it be from the United States, Australia or any other country, you will have to first check your visa requirements with your consulate or embassy.

Foreign firms without a French establishment

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If you are a foreign company without an establishment in France, you are considered a non-resident  employer and if you want to recruit an employee operating in France, you will be liable to pay French social contributions.

The French administration requires a local contact to reply to any correspondence related to social declarations. You can designate a contact residing in France to fulfill your reporting obligations and pay social security contributions due for your employees in France.

Starting a Business in France as a Sole Trader

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The company set-up for a Sole Trader does not have any legal entity and does not own its assets. There is actually no distinction between the sole trader’s own assets and those of the company. This therefore means that property, developed or undeveloped but linked to the Sole Trader, is liable to be seized by creditors. In fact, the financial capacity of the company is only limited to the personal circumstances of the entrepreneur. We therefore advise against this type of set-up for an activity which is relatively capital-intensive.

How do I open a corporate bank account in France

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In the US, or in the UK, setting up a corporate bank account is usually quick and easy. In France it is not unusual for the procedure to last a few months, so knowing what to expect, and what to do, is essential.

A bank account in France is vital for any company and it is a requirement for incorporation. Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism legislation is necessary for any state; however, because of the French penchant for bureaucracy and paperwork, this process inevitably involves a few extra hoops to jump through.

Start recovering your startup costs in france today

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Starting a business in France is different to starting one in other countries in Europe. In other European countries, incorporation is immediate, however, in France this process takes time because of French administrative formalities. During this period you can still work for your clients as a ‘company in formation’ and spend money for the company. These costs are incurred before the company exists so how can you recover them?