Steps to create a foreign invested company

Identifying the legal form of the company

If the activity is run by a foreign natural person

Choosing the legal form of your company is essential. This decision will define the legal frame in which your business will grow. The legal forms are diverse and varied with several specificities: self-entrepreneur, entrepreneur, individual company (EI and EIRL), company (“SAS, SARL, SA, SASU, EURL…). The choice of the legal form also depends on several criteria:

The nature of the activity

Depending on the nature of the activity, certain legal forms are mandatory. As some cases are exceptional, we advise you to contact BPI France Creation for further information.

Partnerships or not

Depending on your desire to create partnerships or remain alone and independent within your company, the legal form will be crucial. If you wish to remain alone, it is advised to choose the status « individual company », « EURL » or « SASU » as a legal form.

Assets organization

Depending on whether you have personal assets to protect or share, the legal form of your company will play an important part. It will be even more crucial should you have created a company with partners.

Financial needs

Depending on the financial needs you mentioned in your forecasts, the creation of a company can be necessary should you wish to add investors in the capital.

Operation of the company

Depending on the structure and legal form, the company’s operation can be more or less simple. Creating an individual business will grant you more flexibility since you will be able to make decisions and bear responsibility in case of an issue.

The social and fiscal regime of the entrepreneur

Depending on the legal form of your company, your benefits will be subject to income tax or corporate tax.

Credibility towards partners

Depending on the legal form of your company, you will have more or less credibility among its partners. The creation of a company with a high capital is recommended to reach certain markets and look credible towards other stakeholders.

If the activity is handled by a foreign legal entity

The legal person is an entity usually formed by a group of natural persons with their own legal capacity. Contrary to the natural person, the legal person has rights and duties.

Depending on its goal when coming to France, the foreign legal entity that wants to set up on the Côte d’Azur can choose between several legal forms : a liaison office, a branch or a subsidiary.

When the foreign legal entity does not have a commercial activity and focuses on research or on providing technical or pricing information, they can open a liaison office.

Yet, when a foreign legal entity plans on developing commercial activities, there are two options:

  • The subsidiary: Company under the French Law with its own legal capacity. More than half of its capital must be held by the parent company. Its legal form is subject to the French Law.
  • The branch: An establishment without legal capacity. Branches are business assets separate from the main company with a certain degree of management and management autonomy but not at the level of its assets.

Registering a foreign invested company

Formalities to set up a stable company (or branch)

Do you wish to register the company on the Côte d’Azur which has its headquarters abroad? If so, you will need to fulfill several formalities with the “CFE – Centre des Formalités des Entreprises”. Those procedures can vary depending on the legal form of your business, the number of hired employees and the type of activities operated.

If you are a shopkeeper or wish to create a trading company (SARL, SA, SAS, EURL, SNC, etc.), not engaged in craft business, unless it employs more than 10 employees, you will have to go through the services of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for your registration.

If you are a natural person or if your future company will hire less than 11 employees and is registering with the “Répertoire des métiers” (companies specializing in handcraft), you will need to register with the Chambers of Trade and Crafts (“Chambre des Métiers et de l’Artisanat”)

If you are a natural person or if you wish to create your company registering with the “Registre des entreprises de la batellerie artisanale” (handcraft companies specializing in waterway transport), you will need to register your company with the National Chamber of Waterway Transport (“Chambre nationale de la batellerie artisanale”).

If you wish to create a civil company (SCI, SCP, SCP, etc.), an independent professional company, (SERLARL, SELAFA, SELCA), a public industrial and commercial entity (EPIC), an economic interest group (GIE), a European economic interest group (GEIE), a joint venture, an association subject to business taxes, to become a sales agent or to rent a furnished accommodation, you will need to register with the services of the Commercial Court (“Greffe du tribunal de commerce”).

If you wish to practice a liberal profession (regulated or not) for an independent company, to become an artist-author, or to be an employer whose company will either not be registered with the “Registre du commerce et des sociétés”, be registered with the “Répertoire des métiers” or with the “Registre de la Batellerie Artisanal” (e.g professional unions), you will need to register with the URSAFF.

If you are a natural and legal person wishing to run agricultural activities primarily, you will need to register with the services of the local Agricultural Chamber.

If the previous CFEs do not apply to your situation, we invite you to visit the website of the South Region.

Social declarations

If you are an employer, you will need to make a certain number of declarations to the relevant fiscal and social organisms regarding your employees. Those declarations are important and will help the appropriate organisms to determine the rights of your employees as well as the contribution rates of the company.

To know more about the different social declarations:

Fiscal declarations

In connection with the activity of your company and the profits generated, you will have to take a number of tax declarations with the French tax and social organizations.

To know more about the different fiscal declarations:

Formalities without the set-up of a stable company

What are the steps to register a foreign invested business in France without the set-up of a stable company?

If your company does not have any establishments nor employees in France but runs taxable operations, you will need to refer to the foreign invested business tax service (“service des impôts des entreprises étrangères – SIEE”). You will need to fill a form and forward several documents.

To know more about the registration procedures with the SIEE:

If your company does not possess an establishment in France but hires employees subject to the French social system, you will need to register your company with the CNFE (“Centre National des Firmes Etrangères”).

If you wish to set up a business in France, you will have to hire employees. There are certain steps to follow throughout the recruitment process.

For further information :

The « Titre Firmes Etrangères » (TFE / Foreign Invested Enterprise Title) allows a company under 20 employees without any establishments in France to be registered with the « URSSAF » for the recruitment of employees, and for future procedures linked to employment and social declarations allowing the payment of taxes and social contributions.

Taxation and accounting: Help and advice

In France, all companies must keep an accounting. The accounting can be done internally or use an accounting firm if it does not have the means nor the capacity to deal with it alone. If the accounting is carried out by a third person, it must be be registered with the Order of Accountants.

Sometimes, French taxation and accounting can be complex and entail interrogations. Find out more below to simplify your future procedures.