Business License in France
A business license is a license issued by a government authority that allows companies or individuals to operate a business within a specific country’s government’s power. The license is issued by the local government and it is an approval to start business.
Before you apply for a business license you would definitely need to register a company. The type of company that you register will depend on the type of business that you want to operate. Some of the options of the types of companies are –
- Society Anonymity (SA) – also known as a joint stock company. In order to incorporate this type of company there must be a minimum of seven shareholders. These shareholders can be individuals or companies. However it is mandatory that at least one of the shareholders must be an individual.
- Societe par Actions Simplifiee (SAS) – or known as a simplified joint stock company. Minimum shareholder requirement is only one person. While the minimum share capital for this type of company is EUR 1, it is highly advisable to start with a capital of EUR 37,000.
- Societe a Responsabilite Limitee (SARL) – also known as a limited liability company. It can be formed with a minimum of two person either individuals or a corporate company. The minimum paid up capital is EUR1 but as before it is recommended to have a minimum of EUR7,500. This must preferably paid up in full upon incorporation of the company.
- Societe en Nom Colectif (SNC) – known as a general partnership. This type of company is formed by at least 2 partners with no minimum paid up capital. The disadvantage of this type of business is that the partners have unlimited liability should anything happen to the company.
- Societe en Commandite Simple (SCS) – also known as limited partnership. Similar to SNC this type of company has at least 2 partners. It normally has a partner that manages the business (the managing partner) and the partner that doesn’t manage the business (also known as the limited or silent partner). For the managing partner, his/ her liabilities in the company are unlimited while for the silent partner, his/her liability is limited to the amount of capital invested in the company.
- Societe en Commandite par Actions (SCA) – known as partnership limited by shares. This type of company is almost the same as an SA except that the ordinary partners are liable for the losses of the company.
Once you have registered a company with the relevant authorities you would then need to apply for a business license. The business license that you apply for would depend on the type of business that you will be doing.
- For a sole trader or sole proprietorship – The owner must apply for specific licenses or permits that must follow the local environment and health rules. For example, if you wish to open a restaurant, you would need licenses for selling liquor, licenses if you wish to have live or recorded music. This for artist copyright.
- Trading companies – For French companies that are doing trading either locally or internationally, they would require the appropriate licenses to operate. If these companies are importing or exporting goods, the type of license they would need depends on –
- i) Where is the origin of the products
- ii) Where is the destination of the products
iii) What are the different types of products that are being brought into the country or exported to other countries?
- iv) What is the code of commodity of the products?
For agricultural products, a license from the Rural Payments Agency is also required. If the products that are being imported or exported are items such as metal or textile, then a special license from the Import Licensing Branch of the Department of Business is required.
- Companies that operate online gambling – The Company would need to obtain a license from ARJEL (Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne) which is in accordance with the French Gambling Act 2010. The various types of licenses are –
- i) Type 1 – mainly for online poker games, This has a validity of five years
- ii) Type 2 – mainly for online sports betting. This also has a validity of five years
iii) Type 3 –mainly for online horse race betting. It has five year validity.
- Companies that wish to operate a financial institution – This license that must be issued will be determined by the type of financial business that the company wants to operate such as a bank, insurance company or a credit company. This is in line with the Banking Law of France. For a start, proper authorization from Prudential Supervisory Authority (CAP) must be issued for financial institutions. For an investment services company, an additional permit is required from the Financial Market Authority as well as the CAP.