International companies: how to settle in France?
France is the second host country for foreign investments in Europe: 20,000 foreign companies operate in France. How do they choose their establishment type? What entities support them?
How to choose the entity form?
Depending on its goals, an international company may choose between three forms of entity in France.
The liaison office (Bureau de liaison) is used to study the market. It is limited to contacts, prospects and information mining. The subsidiary (succursale) is for a commercial activity, but is not legally different from its parent company. With a branch (filiale), the foreign company chooses to create an autonomous structure. The branch is a French company regulated by the same legal, fiscal, social and accounting requirements as any other local company.
The choice is not final. It is always possible to choose another solution and a more attractive form of entity.
Supporting international investors
To facilitate the settlement, several agencies offer their know-how to help investors. Among others, the French Agency for International Investments (AFII, for Agence française des investissements internationaux) is a first-hand contact.
The AFII has a wide network of contacts in over 22 countries. It informs entrepreneurs about laws applicable to the desired investment. The agency helps identify existing financial assets at French regional and national level. It helps contacts with government services.
The AFII put at the foreign investors' disposal its partners in French regions. The local players drive the help to establishment and boost the emergence of new activities.
The AFII also works with private sector organizations to promote competitive commercial assets of France and to offer a full range of services to investors.