How to start a company in France?

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There are many statutes, assistance programmes and specialised structures to help students and graduates easily start a company in France, regardless of the project or their nationality.

Who can start a company in France?

Nationals from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland, graduates of the French higher education system, can freely start a company in France.

Nationals of other countries must have an Autorisation Provisoire de Séjour (APS - temporary residency permit), to be able to create a company in France. It allows them to stay in France for one year after graduation while they develop their project.

When the APS expires, if the company is a going concern, you must apply for a carte de séjour temporaire mention entrepreneur-profession libérale (temporary freelance-entrepreneur residency permit) which will authorise you to conduct a non-salaried professional activity.


Taking advantage of the student-entrepreneur status

The student-entrepreneur status is designed for students or graduates from the French system of higher education that wish to create a company in a PEPITE (Pôle Etudiant Pour l’Innovation, le Transfert et l’Entrepreneuriat - Student Cluster for Innovation, Transfer and Entrepreneurship). Located on university campuses, the 29 PEPITEs bring together institutes of higher education, companies and networks of associations in order to encourage entrepreneurship amongst students and graduates.

The student-entrepreneur status lets you benefit from a support structure, supervision and training when you start your company. It also lets graduates under 28 years of age continue to benefit from student Social Security coverage.


Creating your company with the micro-entreprise status

Formerly called the auto-entreprise, the micro-entreprise is a simplified fiscal, accounting and social structure for individual entrepreneurs. The main constraint with this structure is the turnover threshold that you must not exceed; it differs depending on the type of business. Furthermore, the micro-entrepreneur status can be used with a paid activity or if unemployment benefits are being received. It is a practical structure that is relatively free of restrictions when you want to start a company with a minimum amount of personal risk. Find out more from Agence France entrepreneur.


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Don't remain isolated when starting your company

Contact the Chamber of Commerce and Industry or the chamber of Arts and Craftsmanship in your region. They provide free advice, organise training, and even offer logistics solutions for people starting companies.

There are specialised structures specifically for graduates seeking to start a company:

  • the youth information network of the CIDJ (Centre d'information et de documentation jeunesse Youth Information and Documentation Centre);
  • local missions of the Ministry of Labour, that work to help young people aged 16 to 25 find work;
  • the network of groups of creators that provides support for young entrepreneurs aged 16 to 25;
  • the movement for young people and student entrepreneurs (MoovJee) that supports young people starting companies through a mentoring programme and a competition.

You can also turn to associations of former company heads, such as Ecti, Egée and AGIRabcd, to benefit from their experience and networks. They can provide personalised assistance on a voluntary basis.

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Don't forget the "PEPITE"

Follow the main steps to come study in France