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The authoritative guide to Life, Work and Business in France





rance’s geographical position, its quality of life and its 65 million consumers are a source of attraction for British people and business

alike. However, moving to a new country can be a daunting prospect: an international move, a different language, culture, and a new property market; all add further complications to relocation, retirement or entrepreneurial plans. Strategically located at the heart of Europe – the largest single market in the world with 500 million consumers – and a member of the Eurozone, France is both a springboard to other European markets and an ideal destination for foreign investments. Indeed, it is the leading recipient in Europe of foreign investment in industry, and has the fourth largest FDI stock in the world after the United States, China and the United Kingdom. Many myths have been spun from France’s highly publicised 75% tax rate, but moving beyond the fog of misinformation, there is so much that France has to offer: its superb infrastructure, world-class transport links, a highly skilled workforce, cutting-edge expertise in areas such as engineering, research, innovation as well as digital technology, and of course quality of life, for this is the country that perfects l’art de vivre. This business guide has been written in response to the increasing demand for information on the practicalities of living and setting up a business in France. Its contributors are experts in their sector of activities, and I would like to thank each and every one of them for the time and effort they put into their chapters. Obviously with such a wide spectrum of subject matter and diversity of writing


styles, the contents of this book are far from homogenous, and naturally some topics are more digestible than others! But it provides a wealth of information at different levels, and having last lived in France myself 21 years ago, I certainly learned a lot about my home country in the process of putting the guide together. During the guide’s compilation France’s presidential elections took place, and François Hollande’s government instigated a number of reforms. We have ensured that all changes up to April 2013 are reflected in the relevant chapters, but as reforms are ongoing and no guide can cater for every eventuality, we do recommend that you seek further advice and enlist the services of professionals before making any major decisions. The French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain provides access to professionals who are qualified to deal with both French and British interests. You may want to visit for more information. I hope you find this guide an informative read, which paves the way for a successful – and prosperous – move to France!

Florence Gomez Managing Director French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain


THE FRENCH CHAMBER WHO WE ARE The French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain is part of a network of 110 French Chambers of Commerce and Industry Abroad (FCCIA), which is the largest private French network in the world with a combined membership base of more than 23,000 companies. We were the third French Chamber of Commerce to be set up abroad back in December 1883, after Montevideo in 1882 and Barcelona in 1883. Today the largest foreign Chamber in the UK in terms of both turnover and range of services offered, as well as one of the top French Chambers worldwide, we count more than 600 member companies, ranging from SMEs and entrepreneurs to blue chip companies. The diversity and quality of our members, 50% of which are non-French nationals, largely contributes to our success and to the reputation we have acquired over the last 130 years of existence. Our policy is guided by a Board of 12 directors responsible for all major decisions concerning the Chamber’s strategy. The Board is assisted by an Advisory Council of 60 councillors, who help to increase the visibility and efďŹ ciency of the Chamber. We are also a member of the Council of Foreign Chambers in the UK.


KEY FIGURES • 130 years of experience • 600 member companies • 50 events a year • 300 French and British SMEs assisted in 2012 • A turnover of £1.7 million

A BUSINESS FACILITATOR FOR BOTH FRENCH AND BRITISH COMPANIES The Business Consultancy assists and supports French and British SMEs willing to develop their activities across the Channel. The department offers a wide range of bespoke services as well as strategic and practical advice to SMEs. Alongside our partners in France and Great Britain, we strive to offer the best of British and French trade opportunities.

OUR SERVICES TO BRITISH COMPANIES: • Market research • Identification of distributors, agents, buyers and potential partners • Trade missions including B2B matching • Recruitment • Company domiciliation • Boardroom rental Contact Sabrina Mimid at

A CONNECTION WITH HIGH PROFILE FRENCH BILINGUAL CANDIDATES Our recruitment service assists both French companies in the UK and British companies in France in their search for talent, fulfilling their recruitment needs at very competitive rates. Thanks to the partnerships we have developed with French business schools and universities, which are members of the Chamber, we have built a 1500-strong database of bilingual candidates at all levels. In that context our Recruitment Service could link you up with these schools to support your search for the best candidates for your business or development projects in France. Contact Véronique Revington at


A PROVIDER OF A WEALTH OF INFORMATION We take pride in the quality of our various publications, which provide a wealth of information, help promote the interests of the Franco-British business community and give extra visibility to our member companies.

OUR PUBLICATIONS: • Our bimonthly magazine INFO • The Franco-British Trade Directory • Light at the End of the Tunnel, practical reflections about the French and British in business • The Member to Member Offers Booklet • France on the Move!

OUR NEWSLETTERS: • Monthly newsletter • Patrons bimonthly • France-UK Express • INFO news

A BASE FOR MEETINGS IN CENTRAL LONDON Only two stops away from King’s Cross Saint Pancras, the Chamber offers fully furnished and very quiet and bright rooms for meetings, interviews, conferences and seminars, which can be configured in different sizes to meet different needs. The rooms benefit from a professional front desk reception with waiting area for visitors, Wi-Fi, Audio and Video Conferencing, plasma screens and a drop down screen. Bespoke catering for breakfast, lunch or cocktails is available upon request.


A PLATFORM FOR EXCHANGE AND NETWORKING The Chamber’s main missions are to provide a platform for exchange and networking at the service of Franco-British firms in the UK, to promote our 600 members’ interests to key decision makers and to help develop economic and commercial relations between France and the UK. The 50 events we organise every year, with personalities from the British and French political and business worlds, offer great opportunities for our members to develop their business and expand their network of contacts.

Paul Deighton

Carolyn McCall

Boris Johnson

Additionally, the Forums and the Clubs we have launched over the past few years, focusing on issues or sectors such as Human Resources, Cross-Cultural Relations, Climate Change, Finance, Legal, SMEs & Entrepreneurs, and the Luxury sector, offer our members dedicated platforms to exchange experiences at the highest level of management and to share best practice.

You have read this guide because you have an interest in France, whether to set up business, expand your company there or work. We represent over 600 member companies, half of which are non-French and through them, have an extensive network of connections on both sides of the channel. By joining the French Chamber, you will not only have access to this network but also benefit from all the advice and support it could offer you for your move to France. Contact Aude Reungoat at


CONTENTS WHY FRANCE? Introduction by David Appia, Chairman & CEO of Invest in France Agency






1. Administrative issues by The British Consulate in France


2. Renting a property in France by The French Chamber of Commerce


3. Purchasing a property in France by Dawn Alderson, Russell-Cooke


4. Organising your move to France by Elisabeth Delahaye, Delahaye Moving Ltd


5. Travelling in France by The French Chamber of Commerce


6. Health and welfare services by Andrew Coombs, AXA PPP International


7. Education by Chloë Thomas, Grenoble Graduate School of Business


8. Banking & Finance by Delphine Breton, Barclays


9. Taxation by Yves-Charles Zimmerman, Marccus Partners (Mazars)


Cover photograph © Flickr/Jean-Louis Zimmermann ISBN 978-0-9553371-6-1 Printed in Great Britain by Service Point UK © French Chamber - May 2013




10. Finding employment by The French Chamber of Commerce


11. Employment law by Janette Lucas & Jean-Marc Sainsard, Squire Sanders LLP




12. Setting up a business by Olivier Maurin, Cabinet A&D


13. Banking & Finance for businesses by Nicola Rivière, Barclays Corporate Banking


14. Taxation for businesses by Yves-Charles Zimmermann, Marccus Partners (Mazars)


15. Commercial contracts by Peter Stevens, TWM Solicitors LLP


16. Commercial property by Juliette Bril, Wragge & Co






Useful contacts




Head of Publication

Edited by the French Chamber

Florence Gomez

of Commerce in Great Britain

Coordination and Proofreading

Lincoln House, 300 High Holborn

Delphine Dewulf/Keri Fuller

London WC1V 7JH

Graphic Design

T: +44 (0) 207 092 6600

Prima Hevawitharane

F: +44 (0) 207 092 6601

Sales & Advertising David Lislet/Lorraine Germaix



WHY FRANCE? In the competition to attract job-creating foreign investment, value added and talent, countries with a strong and comprehensive ‘investment attractiveness mix’ stand apart from their peers. In this light, France can be seen as one of the few countries in Europe to boast so many structural advantages. The global economic crisis has underscored its importance: efficient public services, world-class infrastructure, a diversified technological base, a highly skilled and productive workforce, and one of Europe’s most dynamic demographics, signalling the country’s confidence in the future. France is recognised for its quality of life. On average, 13 foreign companies choose to make new job-creating investments here every week. France receives more foreign investment in industry than any other country in Europe. Since competition for investment between different countries and regions is driven by competitiveness, administrative efficiency and the welcome extended to foreign investors, the unveiling of the ‘National Pact for Growth, Competitiveness and Employment’ by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on 6 November 2012, the creation of a Public Investment Bank, and the agreement between employer federations and trade unions on 11 January 2013 will consolidate France’s position in Europe. Investment attractiveness also depends on the image that potential locations project and the perceptions they arouse. My hope is that the collection of facts and figures that you will find in the next pages, will help close the gap between perception and reality by underscoring France’s image as an open, competitive and innovative country at the heart of the European market.

David Appia Ambassador for International Investment Chairman and CEO of Invest in France Agency



MAKING A SUCCESSFUL MOVE Chapter 1 lists the formalities to be followed if you are intending to live in France. You will find information about importing personal goods or animals to France, about voting in France, the certification of official documents (birth, death, marriage, etc.). Chapters 2 & 3 give advice about renting or buying a property in France, including tips about the French property market and regulations. Chapter 4 gives practical and technical advice to help you prepare for a successful move. Chapter 5 tells you everything you need to know about travelling in France, driving in France or bringing your car to France. Chapter 6 explains in detail how the French healthcare system works. Chapter 7 explores the French education system, from pre-school to primary, secondary and higher education. It provides information on how French schools work as well as a useful list of contacts. Chapters 8 & 9 focus on personal banking, finance and taxation systems from opening a bank account to money transfers, saving accounts, investments and mortgages, etc.

SECTION 1 CONTENTS: MAKING A SUCCESSFUL MOVE Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9

Administrative issues, the British Consulate in France Renting a property in France, The French Chamber Purchasing a property in France, Russell-Cooke Organising your move to France, Delahaye Moving Ltd Travelling in France, The French Chamber Health and welfare services, AXA PPP International Education, Grenoble Graduate School of Business Banking & Finance, Barclays Taxation, Marccus Partners (Mazars)

Page 29 Page 37 Page 49 Page 69 Page 83 Page 93 Page 103 Page 115 Page 125

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ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES Members of the European Union are free to travel and live in another European country. There are however a certain number of formalities to be followed if you are intending to live in France. The British Consulate in France


Chapter 1: Administrative issues

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED TO LIVE & WORK IN FRANCE Entry and residence of European Union nationals British citizens intending to live in France should have a valid passport or identity document. A work permit or visa is not necessary for European Union nationals. British Citizens native to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not regarded as European Union citizens and should seek advice from a French consulate about visas and documents required. Under the most recent legislation (July 2006) on immigration and integration, European Union citizens and their families are granted a right to permanent residence. This means that only a valid identity document or passport is required to stay in France. However, European Union nationals should register at the town hall (hôtel de ville) of their place of residence within three months of arriving. The right of permanent residence can be extended to the European Union national’s spouse, dependent descendents under 21, dependent ascendents and their spouses.

Translating official documents Birth and marriage certificates must be translated into French by a recognised translator and notarised by a French consulate before leaving for France. There is usually a fee for notarisation. Check with the French consulate exactly which official documents you will need to have translated before going ahead with this, or speak to your local mairie if you are not able to do this prior to moving. The French consulate in London can supply you with a list of officially recognised translators. You must use one of these translators. If you do not, your translation, no matter how accurate, will not be recognised by the consulate as official.

For more information please visit

136 Chapter 9: Taxation



Whether you are going to France to set up a business or hoping to find employment, moving between different job markets might be challenging. Knowing your employment rights and responsibilities will make the transition easier. Familiarising yourself with the ‘dos and don’ts’ of applying for jobs will give you a head start, and this section of France on the move! is here to help. Chapter 10, Finding Employment, deals with the French job market and gives you practical advice to prepare your CV and covering letter as well as useful contacts of employment websites, agencies , etc. Chapter 11, Employment Law, examines some of the key differences between French and English employment laws with regards to employment status, types of employment contracts, termination obligations, key rights and protections for employees, etc.


Chapter 10 Finding Employment, The French Chamber

Page 137

Chapter 11

Page 145

Employment Law, Squire Sanders LLP

10 137


FINDING EMPLOYMENT Finding a job is one of the big challenges you will have to face when moving to France. Despite the fact that many practices are similar to those in the UK, the job market in France does present its own particularities. This Chapter aims to provide you with an overview of the recruitment process from writing a successful CV and cover letter to tips on job hunting. The French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain

138 Chapter 10: Finding employment

THE FRENCH JOB MARKET There are few but significant differences between the French and British job markets. This chapter explains those discrepancies to help you maximise opportunities to find a suitable job.

CVs and cover letters In France, as in the UK, candidates are required to submit typed CVs. Cover letters can either be handwritten or typed. French CVs and cover letters tend to be more general than their British equivalents. A French cover letter consists of a declaration in which the author: • Arouses the reader’s interest with a short application • Explains how his/her studies and experiences give credibility to his/her application and how he/she could contribute to the organisation • Shows how his/her competences match the company’s needs. The cover letter has to be concise and should not be a strict repetition of the information included in the CV. A French CV should ideally fit on one A4 page; because of space constraints, it can seem relatively superficial, leaving the reader to interpret the academic history and the work experience. The ‘details’ section of a French CV nevertheless has to be welldocumented. French CVs are overall less anonymous than British ones: most include a picture and mention the candidate’s date of birth, marital status and nationality. Last, as French companies tend to value a candidate’s academic history more than British ones, candidates who do not have substantial professional experience could consider putting their academic history before the details of their work experience.


Bilingual dictionaries such as Collins-Robert often include, in their coloured central pages, examples of turns of phrase and presentations that you should use in this situation.

© satomodel

and straightforward introduction stating the



DOING BUSINESS IN FRANCE The last part of France on the Move! targets companies or individuals who wish to set up a business in France. It comprises five chapters: Chapter 12, Setting up a business, explains how to choose a business structure, to comply with business taxation and to register your company Chapter 13, Banking & finance for businesses, examines the essential aspects of the French banking system when setting up a company Chapter 14, Taxation for businesses, describes the basic rules of business taxation with an explanation of the framework of the French taxation system Chapter 15, Commercial contracts, focuses on ‘commercial contracts’ and details legal and formal requirements, through general information as well as case studies Chapter 16, Commercial property, presents the legal requirements for commercial leases and provides general information about rents, charges, taxes, etc.


Chapter 12

Setting up a business, A&D

Page 163

Chapter 13

Banking & Finance for businesses, Barclays Corporate Banking

Page 175

Chapter 14

Taxation for businesses, Marccus Partners (Mazars)

Page 181

Chapter 15

Commercial contracts, TWM Solicitors LLP

Page 191

Chapter 16

Commercial property, Wragge & Co

Page 203

12 163


SETTING UP A BUSINESS Whatever your business development strategy, you will find in France an appropriate structure for the kind of business you wish to set up. It is not usually necessary to establish a separate legal company structure to start and run a business in France. As a general rule, you have the choice to either operate a business as a sole trader, to establish a temporary structure or to establish a limited company. Olivier Maurin, Managing Partner at Cabinet A&D Olivier Maurin is one of the managing partners of Cabinet A&D, a French accounting, auditing, tax and business advisory firm located in Paris. Olivier has over 25 years of finance experience in France, UK and Africa. After several years at Deloitte & Touche, he joined a major French oil company for which he worked, among others, as a Reporting Controller in Angola and Group Consolidation Deputy Manager in the Paris head office. Later, he joined a French multinational service company for which he was first responsible for the implementation of the group consolidation software and then appointed as the North Europe Financial Controller based in London. Olivier has lectured at Paris University on accounting. He frequently contributes articles, for instance on IFRS and cash-flow statements. Olivier specialises in audit, consolidated accounts and international accounting standards (US GAAP and IFRS). His areas of expertise are industrial, services and distribution networks sectors

164 Chapter 12: Setting up a business

CHOOSING A BUSINESS STRUCTURE Sole trader structure Two main statuses A sole trader structure in France can operate through: •

An ‘entreprise individuelle’

An ‘entreprise individuelle à responsabilité limitée’

Entreprise individuelle Running the business as an ‘entreprise individuelle’ is most appropriate when the investment requirements of the business are small and the risks are low. You will have complete control over your business and all profits after tax will go to you. On the other hand, this business structure comes without a security net. You will be personally accountable for any liabilities that your business incurs, i.e. any business debts will be your personal debts. This means that you could lose your house if your business fails. However, it is possible to secure protection of the family home and other nonbusiness property from creditors through an unseizable declaration (déclaration d’insaisissabilité), which you can get through a notary. People registering as ‘entreprise individuelle’ do not take on a trading name – they trade under their actual, personal name. However, they may choose a commercial name in addition. To see if a name is in use, consult INPI at It is illegal to use a name for a business that is protected by a trademark in that business sector

Entreprise individuelle à responsabilité limitée (EIRL) Alternatively, since 2011 you can establish an EIRL (Entreprise individuelle à responsabilité limitée), a status which gives limited liability, but without the need to establish a company. Accordingly, this new status deals with one of the sole trader’s main concerns: how best to protect the family assets if the business fails. The trader now owns both assets – business and personal – without having to create a company. As a sole trader you will pay a progressive rate of personal income tax rather than company tax, so no distinction is made between the income of the business and the income of the owner. If the business is commercial, industrial or trade based, then the profits of the


THANKS The French Chamber of Commerce would like to thank the following people, companies or organisations for their contributions and the very useful and qualitative information they shared with us: • The British Consulate in France • Dawn Alderson, Russell Cooke • Delphine Breton, Barclays • Juliette Bril, Wragge & Co • Andrew Coombs, AXA PPP International • Elisabeth Delahaye, Delahaye Moving • Janette Lucas and Jean-Marc Sainsard, Squire Sanders LLP • Olivier Maurin, Cabinet A&D • Nicola Rivière, Barclays Corporate Banking • Peter Stevens, TWM Solicitors LLP • Chloë Thomas, Grenoble Graduate School of Business • Yves-Charles Zimmerman, Marccus Partners (Mazars) We would also like to thank our advertisers who made the publication of FRANCE ON THE MOVE! possible: Aderly, AXA, A&D, Barclays, Delahaye Moving, Grenoble Business School, LinkMobilité, Mazars, Paragon Relocation and Renault. Finally, special thanks go to our partner INVEST IN FRANCE agency for their valuable contribution and input and in particular to David Appia, Chairman & CEO and Fabrice Etienvre, CEO UK and Ireland.

This guide has been produced in order to provide information as accurate as possible. However, the information provided in this book does not constitute advice or an opinion. The French Chamber of Commerce of Great Britain (CCFGB), the authors, firms, employers, agencies or legal entities mentioned in this publication accept no responsibility for any damage caused to any person arising directly or indirectly from the interpretation or use of information in this guide and the actions or omissions committed by anyone because of this book.

The authoritative guide to life, work and business in France  
The authoritative guide to life, work and business in France  

Written by working professionals who have experienced first-hand both the pleasures and risks of expatriation, it is the only book to offer...