Types of Companies in France


There are broad types of companies that can be set up in France. You must choose one that will best serve your interests and objectives. Here is a list of the types of companies in France to help you choose one that is most suitable.

Société Anonyme – SA (French Joint Stock Company)

  • Minimum of 7 shareholders
  • Founders can be individual or legal entities
  • Initial share capital is 37,000 EUR
  • Capital is divided into shares
  • Shareholders have limited liability based on the extent of their share contribution

Société A Responsabilité Limitée – SARL (French Limited Liability Company)

  • Minimum of 2 shareholders, but they cannot exceed 100
  • Founders can be individual or legal entities
  • No minimum share capital required
  • This structure is best for small and medium-sized companies

Société Par Actions Simplifiée – SAS (Simplified Stock Corporation)

  • Minimum of 2 shareholders who have to appoint a president of a chairman.
  • This type of company is similar to the French joint stock company but allows for more flexibility.

Entreprise Individuelle (French Sole Proprietorship)

  • Only 1 owner who is fully liable for all debts and obligations of the company.
  • No initial capital required.

Société En Nom Collectif – SNC (Commercial Partnership)

  • Minimum of 2 partners whoa e responsible for the obligations and debts of the company to the extent of their assets
  • No minimum share capital required
  • Activities must be performed under the same business name

 Subsidiaries in France

Foreign companies seeking to operate in France usually go for a subsidiary business type. Its attributes include:

  • It is independent and can be established as a limited liability company
  • It can undertake other activities other than the parent company’s main objective activities
  • It is considered a local company
  • It is regarded as a tax resident and is therefore subject to corporate taxes
  • It must have license and permits form the relevant French authorities
  • With respect to the companies in French, it is considered a parent company
  • The parent company will have limited responsibility for the debts and obligations that the subsidiary acquires

Branch office

Foreign companies can choose to open branches in France, which will be wholly dependent o the parent company. The parent company must establish it by passing a resolution which will be filed by the French Trade Register.

  • The branch must undertake the same activities as that of the parent company
  • The parent company has full control over the branch
  • The parent company is liable for the French structure’s obligations
  • It is easier and cheaper to create than the subsidiary
  • It is taxed in France only on the incomes generated in France
  • It benefits from the double tax treaties signed by France; hence, they are protected from paying taxes twice.

Representative/liaison office

This structure is not often used. They are set up mainly to undertake research or marketing before a branch or subsidiary is opened in France.

  • It is only created for non-commercial activities only
  • It must be registered with the Trade Register
  • It is exempted from paying taxes

Requirements for opening a company

  • Joint stock companies must have at least 50% of their share capital deposited upon formation
  • Private companies must have at least 20 % of their capital deposited when incorporating the business
  • Private companies have a minimum of 1 director
  • Public companies must have a board of director of 3 to 18 members

Documents related to company registration

These documents are submitted to the Trade Register. They include:

  • Personal information including passports, residence permits, and IDs
  • Fill a form issued by the Trade Register
  • Memorandum of Association for companies
  • Partnership deed or agreement for partnerships
  • Information regarding company directors. This applies to SAS, SARL and SAs companies] bank account statement which shows the share capital deposit