How much does it cost to register a business in France?

By Valérie Aston on 1 July 2016 · Viewed 37983 times · Questions

You are about to register a business in France and wonder how much it will cost you? This article gives you a summary of the setting up and running costs for French businesses.

Cost of registering a micro-entreprise (auto-entrepreneur) business

Registering a micro-entreprise should officially be free. However registering on business directories with Chambre de Commerce and Chambre de Métiers has become compulsory for some activities and will generate administrative fees.

  • Profession libérale refers to intellectual based services and register with Unions de recouvrement des cotisations de sécurité sociale et d'allocations familiales (URSSAF). This includes consultants, programmers, language teachers, content editors, etc. The good news is that you can register free of charge with URSSAF. URSSAF will post a paper form to you or you can register on online.
  • Activité commerciale refers to trading activities, gites and chambres d’hotes etc. You will have to register with Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie (CCI) and will have to be listed on their business directory called registre du commerce et des sociétés. This will cost about 100 euros.
  • Activité artisanale refers to manual based activities and register with Chambre de Métiers. Many of these activities will require a qualification or three years’ experience in the same field (as employee or self employed). You will have to complete a compulsory five days training called stage préalable à la creation costing about 200 euros. You will also have to be listed on registre des artisans costing about 180 euros.
You may be interested in my micro-entreprise (auto-entrepreneur) registration service.

Cost of registering an entreprise individuelle business

The registration costs for an entreprise individuelle are similar to those of a micro-entreprise:

  • Profession libérale: free registration with URSSAF.
  • Activité commerciale: registration with Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie (CCI). About 100 euros to be added on registre du commerce et des sociétés.
  • Activité artisanale: registration with Chambre de Métiers. Compulsory five days training stage préalable à la creation costing about 200 euros, plus business registration costing about 180 euros.

For businesses registering with Chambre de Commerce or Chambre de Metiers, the registration process takes about an hour with a person from Centre de Formalités des Entreprises (CFE). You will receive your extrait KBIS within two weeks (official document confirming your business registration).

You will also require an accountant to handle your bookkeeping and produce your bilan. This will cost about 2,000 euros per year. This bill can be reduced if you handle some of the bookkeeping. Ask your accountant for a lettre de mission, i.e. quote listing the tasks handled and costs. This will enable you to identify administrative tasks you could handle yourself.

Cost of registering an EURL, SARL, SAS, SASU business in France

Setting up an entreprise unipersonnelle à responsabilité limitée (EURL), société à responsabilité limitée (SARL), société anonyme simplifiée (SAS) or société par actions simplifiées avec un associé unique (SASU) in France will cost you more and take more time, as there are more legal obligations to comply with.

You will have to draw several letters of incorporation called statuts, register them with Impots, block your working capital on a professional bank account, register with Chambre de Commerce (CCI) and place a legal ad in a local newspaper. This whole process can be handled by a lawyer or accountant for about 2,000 euros.

Your yearly accountancy fees will be between 2,000 euros to 3,000 euros. Pay slips are usually charged about 25 euros per pay slip.

The registration process for an EURL, SARL, SAS or SASU may take three to four weeks, as you will get personalised advice from your lawyer/accountant and will need to get in touch with your bank, Impot and Chambre de commerce.

You will receive your extrait KBIS within two to three weeks (official document confirming your business registration).

Cost of registering a SARL, SAS or SASU business online

Some companies have recently specialised in registering SARL, SAS or SASU online for a less expensive price than with an accountant or a lawyer. The starting up prices are about 550 euros.

This is a major saving, however you will be missing the personal advice from a lawyer. A lawyer or an accountant will take into account your personal situation and advise you accordingly to give you a better protection or ensure the legal status you have chosen is indeed the best one for you, i.e. the one allowing you to pay the least social charges and income tax or incorporation tax. This type of advice could also be provided online by taking extra phone services, hence increasing the initial cost.

I personally find that it's best to go and see two or three accountants to talk about your business idea. This will enable you to get some advice on the best legal structure and some explanation as to how the French social and fiscal charges work. This will also enable you to find someone with plain explanations, whom you will comfortable working with in the future. It is always much easier to deal with an accountant nearby, rather than having to handle it over the phone.

Valerie Lemiere: Start Business in France

About the author: Valérie Aston

I've been helping people who want to start or already have a small business set up in France since 2009. After graduating from a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, I worked as a senior marketing consultant in the UK and France for various International companies. I worked as a conseillère en création d'entreprises (senior business advisor) for BGE here in France and run this independent business on a daily basis.