I mentioned a few months ago that all French business registrations and updates were to be done via a new central website from INPI www.procedures.inpi.fr. Here’s my feedback on using this site, and the issues that I came across for my customers.
Central website replacing many business registration sites
France is well known for making things complicated and business registration is one clear example. Before 1st January 2023, there were 6 websites to register your business, based on your activity type and the body you related to:
- www.autoentrepreneur.urssaf.fr for Micro Entrepreneurs
- URSSAF for artists
- Greffe du Tribunal www.infogreffe.fr for agents commerciaux, trading activities (buy-to-resell, shops, food stalls) and non professional gites.
- Chambre de Commerce
- Chambre de Metiers for manual activities
- Chambre d'Agriculture for farming activities
Phew! Can you spot the issue? How on earth were you supposed to find the right point of entry? Since January 2023, all of these sites have been replaced by www.procedures.inpi.fr and it is managed by INPI, the national body handling intellectual property and patents.
Sounds good... Except that in the background, the old bodies are still there to validate your personal documents or attestations, and that the communication between them, INPI and you as a future entrepreneur is pretty poor.
What is the new process for a French business registration with INPI
The registration process varies according to your activity. Some activities require more documents to be provided and checked. If you are a profession liberale (providing consultancy services, coaching, courses, wellness, teaching), this is quite straightforward. While buy-to-resell activities “activités commerciales” or manual activities “activités artisanales” are still as complex as before, except that nobody tells you so.
Process for a profession liberale:
- You submit your business registration on www.procedures.inpi.fr.
- You can download a summary of your registration “synthèse de dépôt”.
- INPI passes your record to INSEE, who issues your SIRET Number.
- Your online record on INPI is updated with the status “validé par INSEE” and you can see your SIRET number.
- An updated version of your business papers is added to your INPI account “Synthèse - Version Definitive - Valdidée par INSEE”.
- You "should" get a copy of your INSEE attestation by post (count at least 3 weeks…).
Process for buy-to-resell or manual activities – activité commerciale or artisanale:
- You submit your business registration on www.procedures.inpi.fr.
- You download a summary of your registration called “synthèse de dépôt”
- INPI passes your file to INSEE, who issues your SIRET number, BEFORE your business is actually validated!!! Big warning here - this doesn’t mean that it’s been accepted yet!
- INPI sends your file to Chambre de Commerce, Greffe du Tribunal or Chambre de Métiers.
- Chambre de Commerce, Greffe du Tribunal or Chambre de Metiers checks that you uploaded all the required documents in the right format, with the right legal mentions and the right attestations… you get the idea here. For one customer registering as a micro-entrepreneur with his wife as a collaborating partner “conjoint collaborateur”, we had to submit over 10 documents! Good job I knew what was expected for each of them.
- Chambre de Commerce, Greffe du Tribunal or Chambre de Métiers confirms or rejects the registration.
- You update the information or documents if something is missing.
- Once OK, you can download from INPI an updated “Synthèse - Version Definitive” with your SIRET number on.
- You get an Extrait KBIS in the post from Chambre de Commerce or Greffe du Tribunal or Chambre de Métiers (count at least 3 weeks).
As you can see, this one is more complex, especially as the new site doesn't prevent the previous path to be followed. I.e. your file goes back to Chambre de Commerce or Greffe du Tribunal or Chambre de Métiers. In this respect, it’s only adding one extra layer of communication.
Great, except that the communication between Chambre de Commerce, Greffe du Tribunal or Chambre de Métiers, INPI and you isn’t smooth at all!! In most cases, you don’t receive an email when these bodies ask for something. So it is up to you to keep checking your record online with INPI, at least 2 or 3 times a week. This is pretty much what I have to do for my customers. No emails from Greffe or INPI... Hence my tip is to keep login into your INPI account to check the progress.
A clear example is Greffe for instance, rejecting a business registration because a document is missing or because they state that the registration relates to another body like Chambre de Metiers… BUT not informing you of this, why you initially got a SIRET number!
My advice here is to get help and be very patient!!! This new business registration process with INPI has (for now) lengthened the delay by at least 2 weeks.
Issues to close down or update business information
You might have moved address, or want to add an extra activity to your business. Or you might even be leaving France and wanting to close down your business. This used to be fairly easy. A quick form was completed online with the right body and this was done within 2 weeks.
INPI has actually proved not to be able to handle most of these changes and, as an emergency measure, an old site was reactivated in order to deal with the huge backlog which was accumulating. Closures handled by www.autoentrepreneur.urssaf.fr in December 2022 even disappeared into cyberspace… I should know as this happened to a couple of my customers. We therefore, had to use good old Guichet Entreprises in order to manage any of these changes.
My horror story here is having to submit three closure forms to 3 different sites between December and March, for a customer who left France in December 2022. We finally got the online confirmation that the business was retroactively closed on 31/12/22 but handled on 2/03/23… AND we still don’t have the paper attestation in the post. I had to go and look for it online on societe.com.
On the same matter, I’m still chasing a couple of non-professional gites (LMNP) that we have been trying to close down for 2 months (INPI, Guichet Entreprises, then the tax office).
To say that it’s a patience game is understated. And this is coming from someone who can spot where the issue is likely to come from and keeps calling INPI, Greffe or INSEE to fix things.
What advice should you take to succeed your business registration
Based on these lovely 3 months of INPI trial, here’s my feedback and tips:
- Don’t underestimate the simplicity of this new site, as you still have many attestations and documents to provide in order to succeed with your business registration.
- Don’t tick random boxes, as it has an impact on your taxes.
- Don’t ignore questions that you don’t understand on the registration form, just to move to the next page.
- Keep an eye on your file once you submit it. Log in every 3 days to check where it stands.
- Provide any extra document that is requested, or your registration will be rejected after 2 weeks. You will have to start from scratch after that.
- Get some support from someone experienced to deal with it for you.
Micro Entrepreneur registration services
If all the above sounds like a nightmare to you, or you hate paperwork, have a look at my Micro Entrepreneur registration services.
I will take over the registration process for you, follow it through with INPI and chase it until we have the business papers.