France is Europe’s largest country and its location at the centre of the continent makes it a desirable destination for business. A skilled workforce and strong industrial base add to its attraction. Paris ranks second after Tokyo for hosting the greatest number of multinational company headquarters, with around 500 businesses making it their home city.
Covid-19 latest information
This guide is an accurate reflection of the pre-Covid-19 business environment in France. Please note that due to the current situation, some circumstances may have changed in this country. Figures and data in the guide were last updated in August 2020.
Paris features alongside London, Hong Kong and New York as one of HSBC’s trading hubs. With over 10,000 employees, HSBC Continental Europe offers banking services to businesses and individuals, combining in-depth local knowledge with global expertise. That means we’re well positioned to help you take advantage of the many opportunities France can offer.
France sits at the crossroads of Europe, linking the North with the South. The country’s world-class infrastructure delivers strong connections both internally and externally, ranging from high speed rail links to busy ports and Europe’s leading business airport. Beyond pure transport, its political and cultural links with Europe, Africa and the Arab nations offer businesses opportunities for growth in Europe and further afield.
HSBC provides a comprehensive range of cross-border and financial services to suit both your personal and business needs, whether you are moving to the region, working in the area, or purely investing or doing business in France.
I look forward to seeing you here!
Head office address: 38 avenue Kléber, 75116 Paris
1 World Bank Group, 2019
2 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 2018
3 Trading Economics, 2020
4 Deloitte, 2019
* Map shows cities of economic significance according to the CIA, 2018
for ease of doing business (in a survey of 190 measured economies by The World Bank)
The largest country in Western Europe, with a population of almost 70 million, France shares borders with Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. Its purchasing power, which is already above the G7 average, is boosted annually as France is the world’s top tourist destination.
France has an enviable transport infrastructure, which is ranked ninth in the world. Significant investment in high speed rail has put the French rail network in top place among other EU countries, with similar high scores for both its road and air infrastructure. Citizens are also well-connected online, as France has one of the highest fixed broadband penetrations in the world.
Compared to many other European countries, France’s population continues to grow, both naturally and through immigration. Future growth is forecast to continue at similar rates. Education levels are high, with above average levels of GDP invested.
At the crossroads between Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, the French logistics sector employs more than 1.8 million people.
France has the seventh largest global economy and the third largest in Europe. GDP growth was 0.3% in the last three months of 2018.
Famous for food, fashion and romance, France is also a significant player on the global economic stage.
France plays a unique role in global trade. Bordering several key European states, the country links Northern Europe with the South. Through its colonial past and present-day overseas territories, France also has deep connections with the African continent and the Middle East. A strong historical background and sense of national pride combines with a forward-looking, ambitious economy that invests strongly in 21st Century digital communications and renewable energy.
Building on its inventive past, the French Government has announced a €10 billion investment in innovation and boasts the world’s largest digital incubator.
With a new government in place, the focus is on modernising the economy, capitalising on France’s position as a European hub and increasing its potential to attract foreign direct investment.
France boasts two of the busiest train stations in Europe – Gare du Nord railway station and Châtelet-les Halles underground station. Its rail network is the second largest in Europe and it was one of the first countries to introduce high speed trains, with the introduction of the TGV in 1981.
Read on to discover more about the dos and don’ts of doing business in France and how trading in or with the country could help boost the future growth of your business.
EU citizens don’t require a permit to work in France, but non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens will have to apply for both a work and residency permit. The type required will depend on the nature of planned activity and the timescale for the stay.
Fees can add around 15% to the cost of property and two types of tax are payable on residential property: land tax and local taxes. Registering commercial property can take an average of 59 days and businesses must obtain planning certificates, a cadastral certificate, a non-encumbrance certificate and mandatory environmental reports.
There are few restrictions on the right to strike in France - indeed striking is perfectly culturally acceptable. France comes second on the number of days lost to industrial action, with an average of 171, compared to 24 in the UK and 12 in Germany.
Government authorisation is required for inward investment in specific sectors deemed vital to the French national interest. These include: energy infrastructure; transportation networks; public water supplies; electronic communication networks; public health protection; and installations vital to national security.
1 Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development, 2019
2 TMF Group, 2018
All indices represent the latest 2017/18 rankings