Start your own business in France

Nathalie Corbin,  Tuesday, 28 September 2021

French beach restaurant 

These are the most important things to keep in mind:

Conduct a market research to estimate the chances for your business. In most parts of France, many foreigners are already active with Gites and B&Bs, real estate agencies, bars, and restaurants.

If you are registered with the Pôle Emploi, the employment center in France, you will be granted an exemption from paying social contributions for two years. The condition is that you are registered with the Pôle Emploi for at least six months.

New companies can benefit from some tax benefits. For example, the location of your business may make it less taxable. If you employ someone who is registered as a job seeker, you will receive a tax bonus from the government. For more information on tax benefits, please contact the local Chambre de Commerce (Chamber of Commerce). You must have sufficient starting capital. Prepare an estimate of the costs for the next 3 years. Include as many costs as possible, so also an estimation of the gas and telephone costs.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, but start multiple businesses at once. It's difficult to make a company focusing exclusively on expats services economically profitable. Therefore, try to provide also services for the French market.

Consider the great distances in France. A 15-minute ride to a particular shop in the UK may cost an hour in France.

Get the help of an expert. For example, from someone who has started a business himself or from a professional organization that is aimed at counseling and advising self-employed persons.

Make sure you become good friends with the mayor. In France, a mayor has a lot more influence than in the UK. The mayor can draw from his extensive experience and knowledge. The mayor will often be happy that your business will give an economic boost to the local community. If you build a good relationship with the mayor, you have a friend for life. In the other extreme case, the mayor may oppose your plans. And he has quite a lot to say in the municipality.

Visit the local Chamber of Commerce. Usually, there is someone who speaks English. But beware, that does not have to be the person with the knowledge you need. It is often the case that foreigners at the Chamber of Commerce do not get the right information because they don’t speak French. Communicating and exchanging the right information is difficult if you do not understand the language.

If you start a business in France as a foreigner, you need to have a good accountant. For some professions, business insurance in France may soon cost a few thousand euros.

Only start your business activities if you have all the paperwork. If you do not have the right papers, you will be penalized in France.

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