How to Base Your Business in France

french-flagWhile our relationship with France has been long and warm, and France is very open to firms wanting to expand their business into that country, it is important to remember that every country presents a good many cultural challenges. Therefore, it is highly recommended that a company look for French citizens to get them over the many hurdles that accompany any business dealings.

Presently the president of France has managed to put a number of favorable changes in place to encourage small and medium-sized companies to help with the global economic recovery.

Over 20,000 companies now have a foothold in France. The government has taken steps to make tax credits and incorporate other helpful support through its National Investment Program. This also facilitates the entry of foreign companies into France.

Start Ups

Starting up in France has been simplified. Through a simple five procedure application and seven days, the entrepreneur is in business

Construction Permits and Electricity

Construction permits are one of the more trying aspects of building in France. It takes over 184 days on average to arrange all the procedures. There is an urbanism certificate, a building permit, a compliance certificate and obtain approval for opening the ground and connecting to water and electricity. This latter may take three months.

Registering Property

France is an old country with many protected areas. To register property is complicated and usually takes 2 months, as planning certificates, cadastral certificate (a transcript outlining every aspect of land for tax purposes) and search for liens, etc.

Obtaining Credit

Of course, any business depends on a source of credit. In France, obtaining this can be complicated as well. Although France offers plenty of credit, local help can be more than useful in jumping through all the hoops.

Protecting Investors

Investors may not have as much protection in France as in many other countries.


Plans are in effect to cut capital gains tax and restore relations that became strained from corporate tax hikes. A business pays taxes seven times a year.

International Trade

Two documents are necessary and importation takes eleven days, nine to export. The paperwork usually takes a week.


Despite its modern legal system, it may take over a year to enforce contracts. But many other places may take nearly two years.


Resolving insolvency in France moves quickly, although the recovery rate is slightly lower than the OECD norm.


It is extremely important to adapt to the French business culture to keep relations pleasant and confident. The French tend to be much more formal in all walks of life that we in the United States are. Business luncheons are extremely protracted and relaxed as the wine flows, and the French concept of etiquette and style are often quite different. It can be of major importance to be patient and observe. Again the assistance and counsel of a local can be an enormous aid in getting past these many social hurdles that, in business, can make an enormous difference.