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Set up French SARL Company

Updated on Tuesday 03rd December 2019

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Foreign investors who want to open companies in France can choose between several types of structures. Among these, the limited liability company, simply known as SARL, is the most popular.
 
Below our French company formation agents explain how to open a SARL in this country.

What is a SARL in France?

A French SARL is a Societe a Responsabilite Limitee, which is the French translation of a limited liability company. This structure is recommended for small and medium-sized companies incorporated in France. Company formation in France as far as a SARL is regarded falls under simple regulations and flexible requirements.

Requirements for setting up a SARL in France

One of the greatest advantages of the French private limited liability company is that it can be created by foreign investors who will benefit from the same conditions imposed on local business persons. For this purpose, a foreigner will need to consider the following:
 
  • - the residence permit will be required only if he or she wants to relocate to France in order to run the business;
  • - the foreigner must also find a suitable address which will be used as a registered address for the company;
  • - a set of documents needs to be prepared and filed with the Companies Register in France;
  • - a bank account must be opened with a local bank and the company must obtain a tax identification and VAT number;
  • - certain requirements must be met with respect to the licenses which need to be obtained by the SARL.
 
Our company registration consultants in France can offer detailed information on the requirements and preparations which need to be made prior to setting up a SARL company no matter the domain of activity.

The legal address of a SARL company in France

One of the most important requirements to be respected before starting the incorporation procedure of a SARL is to find an office space or another facility which can be used as a registered address for the business. This is a mandatory requirement for the company to be considered a French resident business.
 
There are no special requirements to be fulfilled when choosing the legal address of the company, however, it should be noted that it must be a physical location in which correspondence can be received. Our local consultants can help with virtual office services during the first phase of the company incorporation procedure.

The articles of association of a SARL in France

The memorandum and articles of association are the most important documents which indicate the intention of setting up a company, respectively the founding documents of the company to be created in France. These must contain full information about the shareholders, the directors, the company’s object of activity, the legal address and the chosen business form – the SARL, in our case.
 
The articles of association must also provide for the share capital of the company, its currency and the division of shares among the shareholders.
 
When it comes to the company directors, these must be appointed prior to drafting the incorporation documents, as their personal information must be written in them.
 
The articles of association must be drafted in French and must be notarized by a public notary prior to being filed with the Companies Registrar.

Opening a bank account for a French SARL company

The opening of the bank account is perhaps one of the lengthiest procedures when opening a SARL in France. This treatment applies to local and foreign entrepreneurs, as no matter the chosen bank, specific verification procedures must be completed.
 
Given the fact that this procedure takes the most, it is advisable for the registration procedure of a SARL to be initiated in due time.
 
In order to facilitate the creation of a SARL company, our company registration specialists in France can start the incorporation procedure at the request of the investor. We can also handle this procedure remotely, based on a power of attorney. This way, foreign businessmen can prepare other stages related to commencing the activities of their French business.
 
You can discover the procedure of setting up an LLC in France in the scheme below:
 

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FAQ on setting up a French SARL

1. What is the minimum share capital for a SARL in France?
 
No minimum share capital is required for setting up a SARL in France. Shareholders can provide 1 EUR when incorporating a French limited liability company. Contributions can be made in cash or in kind and these have to be evaluated by an expert in order to issue a report of validation. 20% of the initial capital must be paid before company registration in France.
 
2. How many shareholders are necessary for a SARL in France?
 
No more than 100 shareholders can incorporate a limited liability company in France. These can be individuals with no special requirements for their citizenship or legal entities. Founders are liable to the extent of their contribution. The shares can be transferred between shareholders freely.
 
3. What is the management structure for a SARL in France?
 
One or more managers are required for a limited liability company in France. Their residence or nationality are not submitted to special requirements. The name of the manager is mentioned in the articles of association and it can be assigned for unlimited period. There is also the possibility that shareholders with more than half of the shares can appoint a new manager from the shareholders, employees or an outsider of the company. The responsibility of the manager stands in his ability for making all major decisions on behalf of the French SARL.
 
4. What are the documents required to open a SARL in France?
 
The following documents must be considered when registering a limited liability company in France:
 
  • - the company’s shareholders identification papers which must be translated and notarized;
  • - information about the managers of the company (identification papers and appointment letters);
  • - the memorandum and articles of association of the company which must be notarized;
  • - the application forms issued by the Trade Register and the notice showing the publication of the decision to open the company in the National Gazette.
 
5. What are the steps to open a French SARL?
 
The following steps must be completed in order to open a French SARL:
 
  • - checking and reserving the company with the National Institute of Industrial Property;
  • - opening the corporate bank account and depositing the share capital of the company;
  • - publishing the decision of company incorporation with the French Official Gazette;
  • - filing all the documentation with the Trade Register and registering for taxation and social security.
 
6. How can a SARL in France be verified?
 
A statutory auditor is mandatory in a French SARL only if the total assets exceed 1,550,000 EUR, sales are over 3.1 million EUR or if the company has more than 50 employees. When two of the above-mentioned conditions are met, an auditor must issue reports on all transactions made by the French SARL.
 
7. Are there other requirements for a SARL in France?
 
Transfer of shares between shareholders is free, but it can only be performed if all the founders of a SARL in France are informed. If the two parts are members of the family, the transfer is more flexible.
 
8. How long does it take to register a French limited liability company?
 
The registration of a SARL company can take up to six weeks.
 
9. How much does it cost to open a SARL in France?
 
The SARL is one of the cost-friendly types of companies in France considering the low company registration fees and the lack of share capital requirements.

Why set up a SARL in France?

The private limited liability company is the most employed type of structure by local investors in France. This is why foreign investors are also keen on choosing it; however, there are several independent reasons for which one should choose it.
 
First of all, the SARL is one of the most versatile business forms in France. It can be used for trading purposes by both small and large enterprises thanks to the liability of the shareholders who will benefit from protection of their personal assets in case of company liquidation. It is also possible for the SARL to have corporate shareholders, a case in which it can be established as a subsidiary.
 
Do you plan on starting your activities right away? There is no easier option than to purchase a ready-made SARL company in France. Most shelf companies are registered as limited liability companies and can be purchased through a transfer of ownership deed. All the foreign investor will be required to do is to make the necessary changes with the Trade Register and apply for the necessary licenses.
 
For more details about opening a limited liability company in France, you may contact our company incorporation agents in France. Our company formation representatives offer personalized business incorporation procedures for those interested in setting up a new SARL or buying a ready-made one in France.
  

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.

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