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How to set up a business entity in France

Join a thriving market in France by choosing the right business structure, location and representative.

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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.

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What kind of entity makes sense?

Corporation subsidies

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.

Representative office

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.

Branch office

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.

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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

Companies like WorldRemit and OFX can help you set up regular transfers to your vendors overseas.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$0 Same day USD 0.00 0.835 EUR 4,176 Save your time and money with XE Money Transfer for business Go to site Show details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 7.00 0.832 EUR 4,154 Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies, while saving up to 90% over local banks. Go to site Show details
GBP 5,000 Same day USD 0.00 0.831 EUR 4,155 Increase business efficiency with zero transaction fees and same-day transfers. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

Bottom line

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.

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