France Branch Office
A foreign company that wishes to establish a business in France can register as a branch.
- The branch needs to present annual accounts to the Commercial Court in the same way as a normal company.
- The branch needs to legalise its books of account
- The parent company is fully liable for the liabilities of the branch
- The branches representatives may be held jointly and severely liable for tax debts
- Financial statements of the parent must be lodged at the Companies Registry
- The branches obligations are the same as the parent, including filing VAT returns, employees returns and corporation tax returns, so there are few savings in administering a branch
- Banks and clients may prefer dealing with a French company rather than a foreign branch
- A branch is rarely ideal for substantial projects because the parent company runs the entire risk
- Any public act by the branch, is likely to need ratification by the board of the foreign parent. A company that signs contracts in front of a notary on a regular basis, should incorporate for administrative ease
- The Gérant is required to validate any acts with the directors of the foreign company, such as buying property, because a French notary will always be uncertain of the gérant’s mandate.
Requirements for registering a branch in France
- A registered address in France is mandatory. Evidence of which must be supplied in form of a lease or certificate from an authorised landlord.
- Parent companies must designate a representative for the branch office, who is responsible for over-seeing any duties carried out there.
- A representative of the parent company in its country of incorporation will need to be specified in the French company registry
- Needs a good standing certificate with the statutes translated into French
- A certified translation, in French, of the Certificate of incorporation.
- A certified translation, in French, of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the parent company
- Needs the Act of the Company (with Directors) naming a representative in France
- The statutes need to be legalised
- A document, such as a rates bill, stating that the company has the right to use the premises intended.
From a tax and labour law perspective, the French branch office will have the status of an establishment in France and accordingly obtain its own VAT and SIRET.
Documents required to register a branch
- Certified translation, in French, of the Certificate of incorporation and the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the parent company (two originals and two translated into French by a court-approved translator)
- Proof of address
- Certificate of good standing from the foreign company register
- Documents relating to the person empowered to act on behalf of the company - including declaration to the prefecture or commercial residence permit as appropriate