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France

Accounts

Updated 07/2009

Legal requirements

The Commercial Code has an entire section on business accounting.

Accounting rules

Bookkeeping

All businesses in France that are registered on the Trade and Company Register (RCS) must keep accounts. These can be managed by either the business owners or a certified accountant.

Invoicing

An invoice must include:

  • compulsory legal wording;
  • identity, address and intracommunity number of the seller;
  • invoice number;
  • date the invoice is issued;
  • identity and value added tax (VAT) identification number of the buyer;
  • sale date;
  • description of the products and quantities;
  • unit price excluding VAT;
  • VAT rate applicable;
  • amounts due;
  • price reductions for products concerned;
  • due date of payment.

If the business owner is a member of an approved management centre, the following wording must appear on the invoice: "Member of an approved association, payment by cheque of amounts due is accepted" (Membre d'une association agréée, le règlement des honoraires par chèque est accepté ).

For a micro enterprise, the following must be mentioned: "VAT not applicable, article 293 B of the CGI" (TVA non applicable, article 293 B du CGI ).

Finally, for intracommunity deliveries, the following must appear: "VAT exempt, article 262 ter I of the CGI" (Exonération de TVA, article 262 ter I du CGI ).

 

Administrative procedures

Storage and submission of documents

The  following accounting records must be kept   by business owners:

  • accounting ledgers and records (to be kept for 10 years from the closing of the ledger or record);
  • supporting documentation: purchase orders, delivery or receipt orders, invoices, etc. (to be kept for ten years from the end of the accounting period).

Resources

Through the enterprise platform, France's certifying body for accountants offers online tools for managing business accounting. It also has a directory of certified accountants.

The French Business Start-up Agency (APCE) portal has an online bidding service for certified accountants

Help & advice

Help & advice

Business owners can keep their own accounting records. But if they decide to entrust their accounts to a professional, they must refer to a certified accountant.

Business owners can refer to three types of professionals to manage their accounts:

Certified accountants who help business owners with the following:

  • business accounting: calculating production costs, setting provisional budgets, implementing adapted accounting procedures, etc.;     
  • consultancy in management, exporting, taxes, legal and social security matters, etc.;     
  • auditing of accounts, computer systems, insurance, legal auditing, taxation, etc.;    

Approved management centres which help businesses with management and tax as well as problem prevention. Their purpose is to:

  • provide an annual management file on the economic and financial situation of the business;     
  • examine the coherence of tax documents and tax returns provided to them;     
  • produce tax returns for their members;     
  • organise training sessions for business managers;     
  • provide an analysis of economic, accounting and financial information with a view to preventing difficulties;     
  • inform members about procedures to follow.   

Approved associations which provide services to sole traders and companies subject to income tax. Their role is to:

  • give business managers technical help in terms of management and tax;     
  • encourage businesses to keep accounts;     
  • provide an analysis of economic, accounting and financial information with a view to preventing difficulties.  

E-mail a business organisation near you

The EU runs a network (Enterprise Europe Network) of local business organisations in most European countries that may be able to help you.

Choose your country and town and enter your enquiry below.

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