Foreign company without a branch in France : how to register

When a foreign company wants to open a branch in France, several cases may arise. The first case (the most common) is for the foreign company to register a French branch in order to develop its activities there. The company is therefore subject to the mainstream registration formalities on the same basis as French companies.

But a foreign company can also operate in France without having any branch in France. In this particular case, registration procedures with the French authorities differ from the traditional path. Following the criteria set out below, the foreign company can register with two départments :

  • Directorate for non resident tax (DINR)
  • National Center for Foreign Firms (CNFE)

The Directorate for non resident tax (DINR)

This direction, set up on September 4, 2017, replaces the former Department of Residents Abroad and General Services (DRESG). Thus, a foreign company without a branch in France is required to make itself known to the French tax authorities. This will enable it to fulfill its potential tax requirements (VAT, corporate tax). So as to do this, it is his responsibility to complete the EE0 form with the supporting documents, and return them to the DINR.

In the case of the French withholding tax (PAS), foreign companies established outside the EU are required to appoint an accredited tax representative. The latter must file an application for accreditation with the Tax Department of Foreign Enterprises (SIEE) of the DINR. At the end of the investigation, the PAS department will send him a letter of acceptance or refusal. In addition, the foreign company must also provide the following:

  • Articles of incorporation and translation into French of the main elements
  • Original certificate of VAT registration in the country
  • Mandate and copy of the certificate of registration in the country’s trade register

The National Center for Foreign Firms (CNFE)

A foreign company without an establishment in France must register directly with the CNFE under these conditions:

  • Hiring one or more employees based on French territory
  • Payment of social contributions to the URSSAF (French authority for social taxes)

In order to achieve this, the company must complete Form E0 and return it to the CNFE. The latter deals with issues relating to the declaration of wages, the payment of social security contributions and the unemployment insurance. In addition, the CNFE directly manages the withholding tax in relation to the tax services, so there is no need to register with DINR as well.

If you need assistance to establish a footprint in France, PHAN Experts can advise you in your registration process through our French Desk.