International
17 August 2023

Preconceptions about doing business in France

by Febe Louage and Elise Vanhamme

There are many stories and prejudices about doing business in France. But is there any truth in them? Or are they just a little exaggerated? Our Vandelanotte France experts Elise Vanhamme and Febe Louage break down 4 common stereotypes about France.

Fiscal employees know their rights and obligations.

There are many misconceptions about French employees. But what is certain is that they are well informed about their rights and obligations. As a non-French employer, you will sometimes have to deal with the cultural differences. For example, the French usually take a long lunch. Lunch between 12 and 14 is not unusual. However, these cultural differences need not put you off as an employer. With the right advice (and they love that) and good guidance from our experts, you can do business in France with confidence. And that sumptuous lunch? That's a nice extra!

The French only want to do business with the French.

Chauvinism is still very much alive in France, unlike here. Many Belgian entrepreneurs therefore find that they prefer to do business with the French. If you do cross the border with your company, you should think carefully about the structure you choose. Will you do so through a branch or will you opt for a French (subsidiary) company? If you choose a branch, you will be considered a foreign company in France. And this may well affect your commercial relations and communications with the local authorities. It is therefore important to make a well-considered choice.

French bureaucracy is a tangle.

Although digitalisation has increased in France in recent years, the judicial, social and tax authorities are still often cumbersome, and as an entrepreneur you can sometimes be sent from pillar to post. But as is so often the case, the saying goes, "the perseverer wins". Fortunately, the future is already looking much more digital and efficient. For example, it is already possible to contact the tax authorities via messaging at impôts.gouv.fr. In addition, a new business register was launched at the beginning of this year. This register aims to simplify the creation, modification and dissolution of French companies.

The French have a brick in their stomach.

Does the Belgian brick cliché also apply to France? Certainly not, and with good reason. Although many Belgians want to buy residential property in France with their companies, the French do not. This is because French company property comes with a lot of obligations and taxes. For example, the company director is obliged to pay a market rent and to keep French accounts. So it is better to leave the brick in your stomach in Belgium.

Still want to invest in property? Let one of our specialists guide you. That way, you will not have to worry about unexpected taxes or obligations later on.

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Febe Louage

Manager International febe.louage@vdl.be

Elise Vanhamme

Senior Advisor Social Legal elise.vanhamme@vdl.be

Disclaimer
In our opinions, we rely on current legislation, interpretations and legal doctrine. This does not prevent the administration from disputing them or from changing existing interpretations.


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