This is one of a series of Country Guides designed for businesses wishing to expand into another country. This Country Guide was produced in January 2016. The materials contained in this document provide a snapshot at that time and were based on the law enforceable and information available at that time.
France is the world's 19th most attractive country for foreign direct investment (FDI) according to the World Investment Report 2015 published by the UNCTAD. While this represents a drop from 11th place in 2014, FDI inflow to France doubled between 2014 and 2015, from USD15 billion to USD44 billion.
France ranked 27th in the World Bank's 2016 Doing Business rankings, retaining the same position as the year prior. The country was ranked first in the world for ease of Trading Across Borders. Furthermore, notable improvements came from France's efforts to make paying taxes less costly for companies by introducing a credit against corporate income tax and reducing labour tax rates paid by employers.
Key facts about starting a business in France:
While establishing a business and investing in France is generally a transparent process, it is important to understand the nuances of any local regime. The manner in which people conduct business in France may differ from the home countries of investors. Furthermore, variations on these distinctions may exist in different regions of France and the industry in which a company operates.
French is the lingua franca of business, with over 88 per cent of the population speaking it as their first language. Dress codes in the workplace are typically understated and stylish; the French place high importance on appearance. However, business dress standards will vary according to industry.
A handshake is the typical business greeting and will be used at the beginning and end of a meeting. However, friends or close acquaintances may greet each other by lightly kissing on the cheeks. Gift giving is not common as part of French business etiquette.
Those looking to establish a business in France will often look to countries across Europe as alternative options. While membership of the EU ensures parity in many aspects of the legal, Tax and Audit regimes, France can be differentiated on the following factors:
Despite France's economy growing at its fastest pace in four years, with an increase of 1.1 per cent in 2015, the unemployment level reached a new record of 3.59 million in December 2015. Francois Hollande, the French president, has declared that the country is in 'a state of economic emergency' under the record unemployment levels. Many have attributed France's problems to its strict and rigid labour laws and state that problems will continue until radical reforms are enacted.
This guide has been developed to provide businesses with an overview of France, its legal regime, start-up and market entry considerations, tax and customs requirements and a general summary of the factors that may affect the decision to do business in France. However, the information contained in this document is generic in nature and you should not act or rely on it without obtaining specific professional advice.
Please note that the Global Business Guides may only be available in English.
|3||Data Protection Authority|
|5||Federal Office of Immigration and Integration/|
|6||French Patent Office|
|7||Business France / Invest|
|8||Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs|
|2||Doing Business Rankings|
|3||Work Permit – Used Practical Law which is a legal service Grant Thornton subscribes to|
|6||Second largest host to multinational headquarters|
|7||Reduction in labour costs|
|8||France unemployment levels|
Download Global Business Guide - France (4MB, PDF)
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