Your guide to setting up a business in France

Are you thinking of opening a business or investing in France? We are here to help you, step by step, to make the setting up process as easy as possible. From creating a company, to choosing the right property solutions, and hiring qualified staff: here is our 7-step guide to setting up a business in France.

1 – Pick a qualified legal consultant to support you

  • Determine your exact needs and prepare your questions
  • Look for recommendations for French legal consultants
    ➞ Contact us if you need help
  • Check their credentials, their specialisation and the languages they can speak
  • Schedule a consultation to evaluate if they suit your business and your way of working

2 – Choose your business structure and name

  • Choose an establishment type: liaison office, branch or subsidiary
  • Decide on the legal structure of your business: SAS (simplified joint-stock company), SARL (limited company), SA (corporation)
  • Choose and register a business name which is not yet being used in France

3 – Open a French business bank account

  • Choose a reliable bank (first, check with your bank to see if they are established or partnered in France)
  • Bring the necessary documentation, including proof of address 
  • Make an initial deposit (and you will need to deposit the entire share capital before registering your business)

4 – Register your business with the French authorities

  • Get in touch with the CFE (Business Formalities Center) or the Commercial Court Registry (Infogreffe)
  • Obtain a SIRET number (unique French business identification number)
  • Obtain the relevant business licences and permits adapted to your activity
  • Register for taxes

5 – Find the right premises for your company

  • Define what you are looking for: commercial lease, acquisition of real estate, construction of new premises
  • Search for the perfect fit
    ➞ Check our real estate search engine or contact our business advisors
  • Equip, design and decorate your premises by relying on the know-how of our companies

6 – Relocate your staff or hire employees

  • Register with the French social security system (Sécurité sociale)
  • Benefit from local accompaniment relocation solutions 
  • Discover the best training organisations near you
  • Find talent online, during recruiting events or through a talent acquisition company
    ➞ In Atlantic France, you can create a recruiter account on our website

7 – Connect with other entrepreneurs

  • Meet business leaders from your own country
    ➞ More than 1,000 internationally-owned companies are established in Atlantic France: learn more about them and contact us to join our ECE business club
  • Find providers, partners and clients
    ➞ Join some of the regional business clusters and federations and benefit from their networks and know-how
  • Benefit from collaborative platforms to innovate and to contribute to open innovation projects
    ➞ Learn more about the Technocampus network in Atlantic France