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Company Formation France



Shelf Company

Updated on Thursday 18th February 2021

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Buy-a-shelf-company-in-FranceForeign investors coming to France have several options to set up their own business. While most of them choose to register a company from scratch, some of them decide to buy ready-made companies. The other option is to buy shares in a company. Each option has its advantages and ultimately it is up to the businessman to decide to the best way to go.

Our company formation representatives in France can assist foreign enterprisers in starting a new business in this country. We can also guide foreign entrepreneurs interested in acquiring ready-made companies in France.

What is a French shelf company?

The ready-made or shelf company is a business that has been registered sometime in the past and at the moment of the purchase it is “on a shelf”. Ready-made companies are often called aged companies. This process of buying shelf companies in popular all over the world, including in France. The main reason that foreign entrepreneurs buy shelf companies in France is that they are no longer required to go through the company registration process.

Who can purchase a shelf company in France?

There are no restrictions when it comes to the persons or even companies which can acquire ready-made companies in France. These entities are created for those interested in starting a business activity in a short period of time and thus avoid the waiting period related to company registration in France.

The shelf company is a good option for:

  • -          those who are not acquainted with the French Company Law and cannot complete all the requirements when starting a new business;
  • -          those who want to save time, which is usually required, when registering a company in France;
  • -          those who are about to enter an agreement with another French company and are in haste;
  • -          those who want to participate in public bids in France, where the company needs to have a history;
  • -          those who need a VAT number in order to complete trading activities in the European Union;
  • -          those who want to access corporate loans with French banks (some banks require the company to have a history).

A French shelf company can also be purchased simply because the foreign investor finds this option easier than to start a company from scratch.

Our French company formation specialists can help you choose the right business form if you want to start a company in this country.

You can read about the procedure of buying a shelf company in France in the scheme below:



The main structures of shelf companies in France

One of the advantages of purchasing a shelf company in France resides in the fact that they can come in various forms, however, the most employed one is the private limited liability company. This structure can be used for various activities and it also has correspondents in most European countries, therefore foreign investors are familiar with it.

Our company formation agents in France can help you purchase a shelf company registered as a limited liability company.

Due diligence when buying a French shelf company

It should be noted that only law and accounting firms sell shelf companies in France, which is why it is important to determine if the company one is about to purchase complies with the legal requirements imposed by the Company Law.

With a vast knowledge in corporate legislation, our company formation consultants in France can help foreign investors who want to buy shelf companies in establishing if the chosen structure suits their needs.

Among the aspects we can verify are:

  • -          if the company is properly registered and has no encumbrances with the tax authorities;
  • -          if the ready-made company comes with all the paperwork for a proper purchase;
  • -          if the shelf company’s details can be altered in accordance with the legal requirements;
  • -          if the company suits the needs of the business owner can be used for specific purposes.

As mentioned above, certain details of a shelf company can be changed after the purchase. Our local advisors can also help with the specific amendments which need to be brought after a shelf company is purchased.

Among the changes and amendments which can be brought to a French ready-made company are:

  • -          the company’s legal address;
  • -          the company director;
  • -          the company’s object of activity.

The names of the new shareholder and company director must be replaced in the company’s Articles of Association. The registered address and object of activity also need to be updated. These changes must be notified with the Trade Register in France.

How to purchase a ready-made company in France?

The French shelf company is registered with the Trade Register and with the tax authorities, therefore no other incorporation formalities need to be completed. The purchase of the company is done by drafting a sale-purchase agreement which is duly notarized, followed by the actual transfer of the shelf company to the new owner. It must be taken into consideration that depending on the activities to be carried out, the new owner could be required to apply for business licenses related to the activity to be carried out.

If you need to purchase a company in other countries, such as Latvia, we can put you in touch with our local partners.

You can also watch the video below if you want to buy a shelf company in France:

What are the advantages of French shelf companies?

Apart from the obvious reason of being already registered, buying a French shelf company implies many other benefits. Ready-made companies come with registered addresses, corporate bank accounts, and tax identification and VAT numbers.

The new owners may also amend the French shelf companies’ statutory documents and appoint new managers or directors and can even incorporate the history of an older business in the ready-made company.

Shelf company vs. new company in France

Most businesspersons wonder on the best way of starting a business in France. They can choose between registering a new company or buying a shelf company and incorporating their existing activities in it.

It is important to know that the opening of the bank account is the most time-consuming procedure when opening a company in France. Considering the shelf company comes with a bank account, it is safe to say that this time can be used for other formalities which can be completed after the purchase of the company, such as obtaining the necessary licenses and permits needed to start the operations of the business.

A French shelf company also comes with a VAT number which leads to applying easier and faster for an EORI number which will allow the business to start trading sooner.

Shelf companies can also be used for engaging in commercial activities and partnerships with other companies in Europe and around the world.

For information about all the advantages of buying a shelf company in France or assistance with the purchase, you can rely on our company registration agents. You can also contact us if you want to open a new company in France. With a vast knowledge in company registration in France, our local consultants can help investors who want to open new companies or purchase ready-made companies. You can rely on us for specialized services if you need help in operating on the French market.


Meet us in Paris

Call us now at +33 9 73 22 01 51 to set up an appointment with our lawyers in Paris, France. Alternatively you can incorporate your company without traveling to France.

As a BridgeWest client, you will beneficiate from the joint expertize of local lawyers and international consultants. Together we will be able to offer you the specialized help you require for your business start-up in France.



Starting a company in France can be difficult since it involves such complex procedures. The team from CompanyFormationFrance is very qualified and benefits from extensive expertise in this area.
Mihai Cuc, Partner of
Enescu & Cuc Law Firm
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