Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our content.
How to set up a business entity in France
Join a thriving market in France by choosing the right business structure, location and representative.
Tap into a consumer base that could turn you huge profits with a little bit of extra effort. European countries are known for being wealthier than the majority of the rest of the world, with France ranking in at a cool number six.
How can you get in on that market? We’ll go over what you need to know to start seriously planning your international expansion.
What kind of entity makes sense?
While incorporating takes some time and will most likely require legal help, it may be the best course of action if your business is already well-established. Make sure to speak with local officials in regards to what the laws require, and what documentation you should secure beyond the standard articles.
Marketing is a key factor to growing a business. Even if you can’t transact from it, a representative office can be a great way to establish your presence in France.
Looking to transact and save a little bit of money? A branch office may be the alternative to a representative office that you need. Local laws of the parent company must be followed, but you can register in the company it operates in.
Should I hire a professional?
A good expert can act as a liaison and help guide you in your effort to establish yourself overseas. A native French speaker is probably your best bet for effective communication with local agencies.
To find a qualified professional, search with the US Commercial Service and Chamber of Commerce.
What kind of documentation will I need to set up my business?
- Certificates of incorporation
- Bank reference letters
- Passport copies
- Resume and photos
- Description of the scope of your business
- Description of the purpose of your business and reason for expanding
- Business license
- Lease contracts of country address
- Utility bills as proof of address
- Business bank account verification letter
Where do I file my information?
Your liaison will likely give you information on how to submit your documentation to the centres de formalités des entreprises (CFE). There will be registration costs to plan for, which will depend on several factors, so it may be best to consult with your liaison before beginning to file.
Other factors to consider
- Naming your business. France is fairly lax about naming standards, and even allows potential businesses to check if the desired name is available.
- Stating your business purpose. Documents that include your bylaws, articles of incorporation (if necessary), business name and address will all be required.
- Permits and licenses. Depending on your location, the products you offer and where the products are going to and coming from, you may need a special license. This is also true if you offer select services, such as online gambling.
- Available resources. As with other European countries, France requires that you show proof of your financial ability to maintain operations.
International billing and payments
A business in France will likely mean you’re going to make and receive international payments and transact between currencies and across borders.
You can safely and affordably manage your business payments — with lower fees and stronger exchange rates — by comparing the services of a money transfer specialist.
Use a money transfer service to manage your international business payments
Find the right structure for your company and the right person to help see your plan through. A team of people dedicated to your vision can help your business really take hold overseas and avoid major stumbling blocks.
Frequently asked questions
More guides on Finder
NBKC Business Checking Review
Open a business checking account and enjoy no transaction or maintenance fees.
Air France Cyber Monday deals
The best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals from Air France.
How to find the best community bank lender for your small business
Developing a long-term relationship with your local banker can be a great investment for your business.
How do international money orders work?
Using international money orders to send money overseas? Learn about better options.
How to open a business bank account
Opening a business bank account is easier than you think. Explore our guide on how to do it.
9 online business ideas you can start now
Take your dream of working for yourself to the next level with these online business ideas.
Tips for starting a business after retirement
If “I’d rather be golfing” isn’t your preferred motto, see what these 5 experts have to say about starting a business after retirement, what the risks and rewards are, and their #1 finances tips to consider.
How to cast your absentee ballot for the 2020 presidential election
Make sure your vote is counted by exploring absentee ballots and alternatives to USPS.
NorthOne Business Banking review
A digital bank account for freelancers, startups and small business owners that accepts cash deposits.
InterNex Capital business loans review
Get funding for your business up to $10 million — but expect high fees.
Ask an Expert