5 Tips for How to Overcome France’s Legal Hurdles

With a centralized geographic position and considerable economic clout in the European Union, France can be the ideal country to start your own business in.  However, you will have many legal challenges ahead of you, not least of which is France’s extensive bureaucracy and lackadaisical attitude towards English-speakers.  If you mean to tackle all these, here are five tips to follow to ensure a high level of success in your endeavor.

Image 1Have your company’s laws and structure planned out ahead of time.  New business owners in France are required to fill out “statuts,” or the fundamental laws of their companies.  With different types of forms obtainable from different locations, requiring you to plot out the small print of your business credo before it’s even off the ground, this can be a frustrating setback to a beginner.  Look online for the shorter standard SARL form, or fill out a SAS which can be up to 50 pages.  Hiring a lawyer may be your best bet.

Deposit the initial capital.  As in any country, there are plenty of rules surrounding this.  You must create a special bank account for all funds going towards the company, and you must deposit the capital in this bank, a notary public, or the Deposit and Consignment Office.

File an application of registration.  Do this with the Centre de Formalité des Entreprise (CFE).  This will approve your business for taxes, social security, various insurances, pensions, and so on.  This will take four to fifteen days, and your initial capital will be block until the registration process is complete and you show the bank a K-bis form.  It is possible to register electronically, but you still need a hard copy of the form.

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Find and employ your staff.  A good website to seek out job-hunters is the Ple Emploi, but business networks such as LinkedIn are also common in France.  When it comes to legally employing them, you may wish to consult a professional tax advisor for this, as employment laws can be quite obtuse in France.  For every employment contract that is signed, you must declare that employee to URSSAF.

Remember French employment laws.  Unlike the United States, France regulates the working week to be 35 hours, with full-time employees receiving five weeks of paid vacation per year.  Maternity leave, which generally starts in the seventh month of pregnancy, lasts a minimum of 16 weeks.  There are also various rules regarding compensation for working on bank holidays, so be sure to ask if there is any confusion.

As you struggle your way through these and more legal complications, remember that owning a business overseas is a tough job with high rewards.  Possibly the best thing you can do to ameliorate the beginning process is learn French—you will find that this will help you through the legal process as well as earn you respect from colleagues and employees.  Send us an enquiry or take one of our free online French language level tests, and we’ll get you on your way!