AB – C – D – E – F – G – H – I – J – K L – M – N – O – P – Q – R – S – T – U – VW



ACOSS: Agence centrale des organismes de Sécurité sociale (Central Agency of Social Security Bodies). ACOSS provides financial management for France’s social security system employees’ regime and coordinates the work of all of France’s collection centres.

Activité principale exercée: See APE code entry.

Adèle: Former French e-government service.

ADIE: Association pour le droit à l’initiative économique (Association for the Right to Economic Initiative) provides financing and support for individuals, particularly jobseekers and those on minimum social benefits, who wish to create their own business but who do not have access to bank loans. The Adie Connect website offers online support and allows those setting up businesses to submit an online loan application.
Affiliation Membership of a specific social security fund.

AFNOR: Association française de normalisation (French Association for Standardisation)

AGESSA: Association pour la gestion de la Sécurité sociale des auteurs (Independent Social Security Association for the Artistic Professions)

AGIRC: Association générale des institutions de retraite des cadres (Association of Retirement Institutions for Management Personnel)
Agricultural business An agricultural business is carried on in relation to the crop cycle or to animal husbandry, including any and all activities that may be considered the extension of this, such as the processing and marketing of plant or animal products.

Agricultural profits (BA): Profits, earned by individuals or businesses subject to income tax, derived from exercising an agricultural activity (farming and/or animal husbandry). Based on the amount of revenue earned, agricultural profits are taxed under one of three regimes: notional, simplified actual profit and normal actual profit.

Annual financial statements: A company’s annual financial statements consist of a balance sheet, an income statement and notes. These must be drawn up at the end of each financial year by business subject to the actual assessment regime (régime réel) in the category of business profits (BIC).
Commercial companies (SARL, SA, SAS, etc.) must file financial statements with the Greffe du tribunal de commerce (Commercial Court Registry) within one month following the annual general meeting at which they were approved.

APCA: Assemblée permanente des Chambres d’agriculture (Permanent Assembly of Agricultural Business Chambers)

AFE: Agence France Entrepreneur (Business Start-Up Agency)

APCMA: Assemblée permanente des Chambres de métiers et de l’artisanat (Permanent Assembly of Chambers of Trades and Crafts). Leads the network of Chambers of Trades and Crafts.

APE: code Code de l’Activité principale exercée. A code consisting of four digits and one letter used to designate a company’s primary business as listed in the Nomenclature d’activités française (French classification of activities, NAF). It is sometimes mistakenly called the « NAF code ».
Articles of Association Articles of incorporation for a company or an association. The Articles of Association contain specific mandatory information concerning the operation and the purpose of the entity.

Assets: In financial accounting, assets are economic resources recorded in a firm’s balance sheet. There are two classes of assets: fixed assets (property, plant and equipment, etc.) and current assets (inventory, accounts receivable, etc.).

Asset base: The full set of a person’s assets, receivables and debts.

Assign: Individual who takes the place of another in order to exercise a right that he or she has been granted by that other individual. (For example, an unemployed person is the assign of his or her working spouse in terms of healthcare insurance; an heir is assign of the deceased etc.)

Assignment: Sale or donation of an asset or a right.

Association: A group of individuals with a common interest other than profit-sharing. The legal structure of association, which was introduced in France by the Act of 1901, is very commonly used in certain areas (sports, culture, arts, etc.). Above certain thresholds, profit-making activities fall under the common company taxation scheme (VAT and corporation tax). Associations are outside the remit of Guichet Entreprises.

Authentic instrument: Instrument drawn up by a notary.

Auto-entrepreneur: Freelance entrepreneur. This scheme is aimed at individuals who wish to exercise a commercial, craft or self-employed activity, either as their main activity, or as a sideline (and thus subject to micro-enterprise tax rules). Auto-entrepreneurs benefit from a simplified calculation of their social security contributions.


Balance sheet: Table that sets out, at a given moment, how the business uses its funds (assets) and resources (liabilities).
Assets include everything that the business owns, including buildings, machinery, equipment, patents, goods, receivables, cash, etc.
The liabilities side of the balance sheet describes:
– The origin of resources, such as contributions, subsidies, etc.
– The company’s debts, including loans, current accounts, etc.

BpiFrance: BpiFrance (Public Investment Bank) provides financial support instruments of all types to SMEs and Mid- to Large-Sized Enterprises in compliance with European regulations.
The bank offers supplementary, enhanced support in the areas of innovation and export, which is made available to businesses via the one-stop shops in every region of France.

Base: Basis of assessment.

BIC: Bénéfices industriels et commerciaux (Business profits)

BNC: Bénéfices non commerciaux (Non-commercial profits)

Board of directors: A collegial body for managing public limited companies; it consists of no less than three and no more than twenty-four members. The board of directors is invested with the broadest possible powers to be able to act in any circumstances in the name of the company, within the limits set out in the articles of association.

BODACC: Bulletin officiel des annonces civiles et commerciales (Official Bulletin of Civil and Commercial Notices). The BODACC is a national gazette, published daily, which includes official notices of business creations, sales and transfers of tangible and intangible business assets, and the opening of bankruptcy proceedings.

Boutique de gestion: A boutique de gestion (small business consultancy) is an organisation that has the necessary skills to provide support and consulting services to those creating or taking over a business, from the search for an idea up until the two-year mark in the life of the business. Small business consultancies are organised into networks (Réseau des boutiques de gestion).

Branch: Commercial or financial establishment that is dependent on another establishment, but which enjoys some autonomy, particularly with respect to management.

BTP: Bâtiment et Travaux publics (Civil engineering, BTP).

BTS: Brevet de technicien supérieur (Higher technical certificate, BTS).

Business: An individual carrying out a non-salaried business activity, or a legal entity set up for producing goods or offering services that is financially and legally autonomous. Most businesses have only a single establishment, but the largest ones have several.

Business agent: An individual who, on a professional basis and in return for compensation, looks after the interests of private individuals by providing consultancy services and sometimes acting on their behalf. Business agents exercise a commercial activity.

Business assets: The full set of tangible (machinery, equipment, furniture, fixtures, etc.) and intangible (clients, business name, commercial name, key fee, patents, trademarks, licences, etc.) elements owned by a commercial or industrial business.

Business incubator: A business incubator is an organisation that provides significant support for startups, including:
– Offices in modern and practical premises that are adapted to their needs in exchange for a reasonable rent; they are allowed to stay in these premises for up to 23 months.
– A range of on-site services, including assistance (legal and management consulting, facilitation), training, leadership, pooled secretarial services, a meeting room and various equipment (photocopy facilities, video projectors, etc.).
Each incubator has its own criteria for selecting the businesses it accommodates.
Premises in a business incubator keeps fixed costs down and allows startups to transform certain fixed costs into variable costs (e.g. paying for photocopies by the page rather than purchasing a photocopier).

Business name: Name used to refer to a commercial company.

Business plan: A written dossier presenting a project for starting a business. The plan includes all aspects of the project: the creators, the product or service, the market (customers), the technical means that will be employed, human resources, the cost of these means and resources, financial forecasts, the chosen legal status for the undertaking, a calendar and any other useful information to allow the reader to understand the project.
A business plan is vital to explain a project to third parties and for the purposes of discussion with various partners (investors, banks, government offices, etc.). It is also very useful to create a shared vision of a project between partners. On the financial level, a business plan should include, at the very least:
– A forecast income statement
– A financing plan
– A cash flow plan
– A calculation of the breakeven point.
A business plan should not be a huge, thick document that discourages readers right from the start. It should be no longer than 30 to 50 pages (appendices such as technical documents, supporting documentation, extracts from quoted sources, market research, correspondence, etc. should be included in a separate file).
A good business plan should be complete, concise, detailed, clear and well thought out, and it should promote the project in question.

Business profits (BIC): Profits, earned by individuals or businesses subject to income tax, from a commercial, industrial or craft activity.
Business profits are determined:
– By applying a notional allowance representative of business expenses to turnover: the micro-enterprise tax regime
– By deducting from turnover the business’s actual expenses: the normal or simplified actual profit tax regime.
Business provider Individual who, in return for compensation, puts a potential customer in contact with a business based on the existence of a possible market. This activity is not a profession.


CADA: Commission d’accès aux documents administratifs (Commission for Access to Administrative Documents)

Caisse des Dépôts:  Publicly-owned financial group that has provided support for France’s economic development since 1816.
As a long-term investor, particularly via its subsidiary CDC Entreprises, the group fosters French businesses’ access to innovation and sustainable growth thanks to its excellent knowledge of local issues (it has offices everywhere in France) and its capacity to link up with the private sector.

Calendar year: Year extending from 1 January to 31 December.

CAP: Certificat d’aptitude professionnelle (occupational proficiency certificate).

Capital gain: Increase in the value of a good between its purchase and its resale.

Carte de séjour: Card that must be in the possession of any foreign national wishing to stay in France. It is valid for no longer than one year, but may be renewed.

Cash contributions: Contribution in cash to the capital of a company. This contribution can be paid in several instalments within a five-year period. A minimum contribution must be paid in at the time of incorporation (one fifth for SARL and one half for sociétés anonymes (SA) and sociétés par actions simplifiées (SAS).

CCI: Chambre de commerce et d’industrie (Chamber of Commerce and Industry) (see entry below).

CCI France: Head of the network of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Since September 2012, CCI France has replaced the Assembly of French Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACFCI).

CCMSA: Caisse centrale de mutualité sociale agricole (Central Mutual Insurance Fund for Farmers).

CDC: Abbreviation of « Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations », referred to today as the « Caisse des Dépôts » (see entry above).

CDD: Contrat à durée déterminée (fixed-term contract).

CDI: Contrat à durée indéterminée (permanent contract).

Centre de formalités des entreprises (CFE): A Centre de formalités des entreprises (Business Registration Centre, CFE) is an obligatory one-stop shop where entrepreneurs submit, one single time and using a single form (the « liasse unique »), all mandatory declarations concerning the creation, amendment or termination of their activities.

Centre de gestion agréé (CGA):  A Centre de gestion agréé (approved management centre, CGA) is an organisation whose goal is to supply commercial, industrial, craft and agricultural businesses with technical support in terms of management and taxation, and to encourage them to expand their use of accounting. Members of an approved management Centre benefit from certain tax advantages, and in particular a deduction on their taxable profits.

Cerfa: Centre d’enregistrement et de révision des formulaires administratifs (Government Forms Office). Produces standardised goverment forms.
Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCI) Public agencies, run by peer-elected retailers and manufacturers, that represent, at a local level, commercial and industrial professions. They are also responsible for defending the general interests of commerce and industry, and act as Centres de formalités des entreprises (Business Registration Centres, CFE) for tradespersons and commercial companies. They provide training and support for businesses.

Chamber of Trades: See Chambres de métiers et de l’artisanat entry.

Chambres d’agriculture: Chambres d’agriculture (Agricultural Business Chambers) are professional public agencies, reporting to the Minister of Agriculture, mandated to represent the interests of agriculture and rural France with regard to the public authorities. They also play a key role in providing services to farmers.

Chambres de métiers et de l’artisanat: Chambres de métiers et de l’artisanat (Chambers of Trades and Crafts, CMA) are public agencies led by peer-elected craftspersons. They are present in each of France’s regions and represent the general interests of craft businesses.. They provide training for apprentices, and offer support to craft businesses. CMAs act as Centres de formalités des entreprises (Business Registration Centres, CFE) for craft businesses, and maintain the Trades Register of all craft businesses. They issue craft-related qualifications to entrepreneurs (artisan, maître artisan) under conditions defined by decree.

Chartered accountant: A chartered accountant is an independent self-employed professional who, at the request of the head of a business, intervenes in the following areas:
– Drafting of annual accounts
– Management of a business
– Compliance with the legal obligations of a business
– Audit of a business
– Computerisation of a business.
To be able to practice his or her profession, a chartered accountant must, following a lengthy theoretical and practical training (doctorate level), swear an oath and register with the Order of Chartered Accountants. Chartered accountants follow a strict code of ethics with respect to their clients’ interests.

CHR: Acronym for Café-Hotel-Restaurant. Refers to businesses and establishments working in the cafe, hotel and restaurant industry.

CIPAV: Caisse Interprofessionnelle de Prévoyance et d’Assurance Vieillesse. A pension fund for the self-employed professions. Civil liability Obligation to make good damage caused either by oneself, or by a person or animal in one’s charge.

Civil partner: Member of an unmarried couple.

CNIL: Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés. The French Data Protection Authority.

Coefficient: Number used to multiply a given quantity.

Collection: Action carried out to recover sums due.

COM: Collectivités d’outre-mer (French overseas authorities)

Commercial agent: Self-employed individual who is, in an ongoing manner, responsible for negotiating and, in some cases, signing contracts for sales, purchases, leases and provision of services on behalf of other businesses. These businesses do not have direct control over agents’ activities, because, as independent professionals, they are free to organise themselves as they see fit.

Commercial business: A commercial business is defined by France’s Commercial Code. It consists primarily of the purchase and for-profit resale of movable and immovable goods, as well as the sale of certain services: hotels, restaurants, entertainment, transport, rentals, etc. Companies that engage in a commercial business must be listed with the Registre du commerce et des sociétés (Trade and Companies Register, RCS).

Commercial lease: Industrial, commercial, craft and self-employed activities require businesses to take out a commercial lease. Although they are usually issued for nine years, lessees are allowed to terminate commercial leases at the end of a three-year period (this is why they are often referred to as « 3-6-9 leases »), provided they give six months’ notice. A commercial lease has a number of advantages when the lessee is registered with the company register or trades register at the lease renewal date. In particular, he or she enjoys relative stability with respect to:
– The right to renew the lease, also known as the « commercial property » (not available for freelance entrepreneurs)
– A cap on rent increases, which are calculated based on fluctuations in legal indexes that are stipulated when the original lease is signed.

Commercial name: The commercial name is part of a business’s intangible assets, and is the extension of its business name. It is the name under which the business is carried out and known to the public, and which appears in the shop window, on delivery vehicles, etc.
In French, the word enseigne also refers to the sign itself, whether lit or not, and in informative, advertising or decorative lettering (or all three), normally for the purpose of communicating with the general public.

Commercial property: The right of a tradesperson to require the owner of the premises to renew a commercial lease.

Company: Contract by which two or more individuals pool something for the purpose of generating profits.

Company in the process of being set up: Company during the period between when the partners or shareholders decide to set up the company and its registration with the Registre du commerce et des sociétés. During this period, operations required to set up the company are carried out by the partners or shareholders « in the name of and on behalf of the company being set up ».

Company in the process of registration: Company during the period between the filing of its application form with the Centre de formalités des entreprises and the actual registration.

Company shares: A company share is a title of ownership in the equity of a company.
A company share is held by:
– A partner in a commercial company that is not a joint-stock company (such as an SARL in France)
– Or a member of a cooperative or mutual society.
The bearer of a company share is entitled to:
-The right to vote at the General Assembly (« one share, one vote » for commercial companies, « one person, one vote » for cooperatives)
– A monetary share of the profits (dividends for companies, interests for cooperatives).

Competent authority: Authority or body that has been specifically authorised by a Member State to issue or receive evidence of formal training and other documents or information, as well as to receive requests and make decisions in connection with authorisations that it grants.

Compliance: The act of respecting certain rules and regulations.

Contractual: Established by agreement between several individuals.

Contributions: Assets and/or financial or technical resources contributed by partners to a business for the purposes of joint exploitation, and in return for which they receive ownership interests (shares). Put together, contributions constitute the company’s share capital.

Contributions in kind: Contribution of assets other than cash to a company’s capital. A company’s articles of association must indicate the value of each asset based on an evaluation drawn up by an independent shares auditor, which will be appended to the articles. Nevertheless, Decree 2010-1669 authorises the partners in an SARL and the partner in an EURL to not use the services of such as an auditor providing the following two conditions are met:
– None of the contributions in kind represents over €30,000
– The total value of contributions in kind does not represent more than half of the share capital.

Contributions in services: When a partner makes technical knowledge, labour or services available to his or her business. This contribution is not considered during the raising of the initial capital, but it may, if the company is a public limited company (SA) or an simplified limited company (SAS), result in rights to inalienable, revenue-bearing shares (share of profits and participation in meetings).

Copyright: Right held by the author of an original intellectual work. This right is granted by the simple creation of the work.
« Intellectual works » include:
– – Literary works: theses, novels, plays, etc.
– Works of art: paintings, sculptures, creations, architects drawings, photographs;
– – Musical or multimedia works
– – Software.
Copyright combines a moral right (right of disclosure, right of authorship, right of integrity and right of withdrawal) and a right of ownership (compensation). The right of ownership bestows upon the author the exclusive right to either authorise or forbid any use of his or her works, and to receive compensation, particularly in the form of reproduction and performing rights.

Corporation tax: This tax is levied on:
– Limited-liability companies (SARL, SA, SAS, SCA and SCS)
– Associations that earn profits
– Other companies, as an option (EURL, SNC, etc.)

Cotisation foncière des entreprises: The Cotisation foncière des entreprises (Business Premises Contribution, CFE) replaces the local business tax.

CPAM: Caisse primaire d’assurance maladie (French healthcare insurance fund).

Craft business: A craft business is one engaged in manufacturing, processing or repairing a product, or in supplying a service that requires manual labour. The list of craft activities was established by the Decree of 2 April 1998.
In order to be registered in the Trades Register, companies carrying on a craft business (as either a primary activity or as a sideline) must be registered with the Centre de formalités des entreprises of the Chambres de métiers et de l’artisanat (Chambers of Trades and Crafts).

Craftsperson: Formal qualification that may be bestowed on the head of a craft business by the Chambres de métiers et de l’artisanat (Chamber of Trades and Crafts) on the basis of specific diplomas or length of professional activity (minimum of six years).

CRDS: Contribution pour le remboursement de la dette sociale (Social Security Debt Repayment Contribution, CRDS).
Criminal record A list of criminal convictions handed down with respect to an individual or legal entity, which also includes commercial, civil and administrative decisions that prevent individuals from exercising certain rights.
The « Casier judiciaire national » (National Criminal Record) is a service provided by the Ministry of Justice. A document entitled Bulletin n° 3, which may be issued to requesting individuals, includes non-suspended sentences of imprisonment of more than two years, along with certain current disqualifications, prohibitions and incapacities.

CSG: Contribution sociale généralisée (General Social Security Contribution): a tax, paid according to income, paid by all taxpayers for the purposes of financing social insurance schemes.


Dividends: Portion of a business’s profits distributed to each partner.

DOM: Département d’Outre-Mer (Overseas Département)

Domain name: Name given to an Internet site. Inclusion in a domain name of a name belonging to a third party may have legal consequences.

Domiciliation: Use of a business’s legal representative’s personal residence as the firm’s registered office.v


EARL: Exploitation agricole à responsabilité limitée (private limited farming company).
Non-trading agricultural company with up to 10 partners, who are liable up to the limit of their contributions.

Economic interest grouping: A group of several pre-existing businesses, either sole proprietorships or companies, that come together to facilitate or develop their economic activity while maintaining their independence. An EIG must be registered in the Trade and Companies Register (Registre du commerce et des sociétés, RCS).

EEA: The European Economic Area comprises the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU) and the three countries belonging to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA): Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

EIRL: Entrepreneur individuel à responsabilité limitée (limited liability sole trader, EIRL). This status is available to individual entrepreneurs who wish to limit the scope of their liability. It offers them the possibility of assigning assets to their business without needing to incorporate a separate legal entity.
The EIRL Is similar to doing business as a sole trader, but differs in two aspects: the scope of the owner’s liability and the possibility, in certain cases, to opt for paying corporation tax.

Employment contract: Contract under which an individual or legal entity agrees to work under the supervision of another individual or legal entity in exchange for compensation.

Establishment: An economic unit dependent on a business that may be an entire business or a fraction thereof. This could be an office, a workshop, a plant, etc.

EU: European Union. Since 1997, the EU has been made up of 27 Member States, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

EURL: Entreprise unipersonnelle à responsabilité limitée (Single-member limited liability company, EURL). This is a limited liability company with a single owner.

European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG): A European Economic Interest Grouping is a type of legal entity allowing several businesses in different countries to do business together. It must be registered with the Company Register in the Member State in which its registered offices are located.

Exemption: When payment is waived.

Exploitation agricole à responsabilité limitée: An Exploitation agricole à responsabilité limitée (Private Limited Farming Company, EARL) is a non-trading agricultural company with up to 10 partners, who are liable up to the limit of their contributions.


Financial profit/loss: Income statement subcategory showing the difference between financial products and financial expenses for the year in question.

Financial year: The length of a company’s business’s accounting period.
In principle, the accounting period is 12 months long.
Nevertheless, this may vary for the first year:
– If it is a business subject to corporation tax, the first financial year may extend to 31 December of the year following the year in which the business was set up
– If it is a sole proprietorship or a partnership subject to personal income tax, the first financial year may not, in principle, extend past 31 December of the year in which the business was set up.

Fixed assets: A fixed asset is a good or security purchased by a business (or that it produces for itself) with the idea it will be used for a period greater than one year.
Fixed assets are entered into the company’s balance sheet.
There are several categories of fixed assets:
– Tangible: machines, furniture, vehicles, computers, land, buildings. ;
– Intangible: business registration costs, costs of initial installation, patents, trademarks, goodwill, licenses. ;
– Long-term investments: shares, bonds, deposits and securities.

Formal ruling:  Ruling on a piece of legislation issued by the government at the request of a taxpayer.

For-profit: A for-profit business is one whose primary objective is earning profits.

Franchise: A system for marketing products, services or technologies based on a close collaboration between two legally and financially distinct companies. In exchange for a financial contribution, a business (the franchisee) acquires from another (the franchisor) the right to use that company’s commercial name and/or brand along with its know-how, and the right to sell its products or services in accordance with directives stipulated in the contract. The franchisee also receives marketing and technical assistance.

Freedom to Provide Services (FPS): This refers to the free circulation of services between Member States, giving service providers the legal certainty needed to effectively exercise this fundamental freedom guaranteed by the Treaty.


Greffe du tribunal de commerce: The Greffe du tribunal de commerce (Commercial Court Registry) provides administrative services to the court: maintenance of registries, updating files, filing of minutes, reception services, etc. The Registry is also in charge of maintaining the Trade and Companies Register (Registre du commerce et des sociétés – (RCS), for managing bankruptcy procedures and keeping the securities file (pledges and liens). It also acts as Centre de formalités des entreprises (CFE) for commercial agents, non-trading companies, economic interest groupings and établissements publics industriels et commerciaux (Government-owned industrial and commercial institutions, EPIC).
The Greffe du tribunal de commerce is a mandated position, similar to bailiffs or notaries.

Guardian: A person mandated to protect and to represent a minor or an adult with diminished capacities.


Harm: The harm can be material or emotional.

HCR: Acronym used to refer to businesses and establishments working in the cafe, hotel and restaurant industry.


Income statement: An income statement is one of the tables that are included in a business’s annual financial statements. It summarises and compares the company’s turnover and expenditure for the year. The difference between these two figures represents the profit (or loss) for that year (referred to as the annual « result »). This table reveals whether a company is profitable (i.e. earns profits) or not.
Independent inland waterway transport Any activity involving transporting goods via inland waterways, in which the boats or barges are registered in France and which do not have more than six employees (excluding members of the owner’s family, his or her spouse, ascendants and descendants); the Chamber of Independent Inland Waterway Transport handles all formalities connected with this activity, and in particular acts as Centre de formalités des entreprises (Business Registration Centre).

Individual: As opposed to a legal entity, an individual is a single person.

Industrial property: The rights attached to inventions and creations.

Inheritance: Transmission to heirs of the assets and debts of a deceased person.

INPI: The Institut national de la propriété industrielle (French Patent and Trademark Office, INPI) is a French Government-owned institution tasked with issuing patents, licensing trademarks and designs, and providing information on industrial property and businesses. It also plays a part in the fight against counterfeiting.

Insee: The Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, Insee).

Insurance policy: The reciprocal commitments made by insurer and insured are set out in the insurance policy. The policy has two parts: general terms and specific terms.
The general terms are applicable to all individuals insured by the same business under a given type of policy. They explain how the policy operates and spell out the full set of guarantees.
The specific terms customise the contract by adapting it to the situation of each insured person: contact details, chosen guarantees, policy fees, etc. These are the only documents that are signed by both insurer and insured.

Investment: The use of capital to bolster a business’s potential. Investments appear on a company’s balance sheet as fixed assets.
For example, purchasing a computer or a van, building a warehouse, or acquiring a stake in a supplier’s company all constitute investments.

IR: Abbreviation of Impôt sur le revenu (Personal income tax – see this entry).

IS: Abbreviation of Impôt sur les sociétés (Corporation tax – see this entry).


Joint and several obligation: Obligation for each member of a group of debtors to pay the full amount of a debt.

Joint venture: An entity without legal personality that is not registered with the Registre du commerce et des sociétés, which is set up by several individuals or legal entities in a spirit of collaboration.


K bis: This certificate of registration is issued by the Greffe du tribunal de commerce (Commercial Court Registry) to all interested parties wishing to obtain legal and financial information about any company entered in the Trade and Companies Register (Registre du commerce et des sociétés, RCS). For sole proprietorships, this certificate is called an Extrait K.

Key fee: Fee requested by a tradesperson holding a commercial lease from the person taking over the commercial lease from him or her.


Large business: According to the European Commission, a « large business » is one with at least 5000 staff (employees, executives, partners, etc.), and which generates more than €1.5 billion in turnover or which has more than €2 billion in total assets.

Lease: A contract in which a person grants to another person the right to use something for a set period of time in exchange for a specific amount of money; more specifically, a contract that one signs when renting an apartment or a shop.

Legal entity: A group that has a distinct existence and standing in law, and therefore has rights and obligations (institutions, organisations, companies, associations, public establishments, etc.).

Legal notices publication: Daily or weekly gazette authorised to publish announcements by companies concerning their creation, amendments to their articles of association, and their winding-up, in the département in which their registered offices are located. A list of authorised publications, along with the rate per line, are established for each département by order of the Prefect.

Legatee: A person or institution that is the beneficiary of assets or cash belonging to a deceased individual.

Lessor: Owner of a good who grants a lease to a lessee.

Life interest: The right of an individual to have the use of something and to receive income derived from it, but not to sell it.

Literary and artistic property: The set of pecuniary and moral rights enjoyed by the author of a literary or artistic creation.

Local authority: Municipalities, départements, regions, overseas authorities and combinations of these authorities (intermunicipal authorities)


Manager: The director of a partnership or of an SARL / EURL.

Marital arrangements: Rules that determine the distribution of assets between spouses and the way in which they are managed.

Member State: State that is a member of the European Union (EU)

Micro-enterprise: This concept is primarily used for statistical and economic purposes to identify businesses that employ less than 10 people (including management) and whose turnover or total assets do not exceed €2 million. It is also used to refer to an extremely simplified tax regime used for the assessment of sole proprietorships whose turnover is beneath a certain level. This is called the « micro-enterprise » tax regime.

Monthly payment: Amount paid each month.

MSA: Mutualité sociale agricole (Agricultural Mutual Assistance Association, MSA).


NAF: Nomenclature d’activités française (French classification of activities, NAF). See under APE Code.

NAF code: Term mistakenly used to describe the APE code (see entry above).

Net book value: The residual value of an company’s asset after deduction of its purchase price, depreciation and any provisions for impairment.

Net income: Final total in the income statement.

Non-commercial business: A non-commercial business, as opposed to a commercial business, primarily includes agricultural businesses and the self-employed professions.

Non-commercial profits (BNC): Profits subject to income tax earned by individuals carrying out a non-commercial professional activity (the self-employed professions), either as an individual or as a partner in certain types of businesses. Non-commercial profits are determined:
– By applying a notional allowance representative of business expenses to revenue: the micro-enterprise tax regime
– By deducting from revenue the business’s real expenses: the actual assessment tax regime.

Not-for-profit: A not-for-profit business is one that brings together individuals around a project where the ultimate goal is something other than sharing profits. This could include the promotion of a sporting activity, the discovery of one of France’s regions, saving money, inserting the disadvantaged into the workforce, local development, testing a new activity, etc. Profits may be earned, but this must not be the business’s primary objective.

Notice: Document that informs an individual about a decision that concerns him or her. As a general rule, notices are used to indicate the beginning of a procedural time-limit.


Operating profit/loss: Income statement subtotal giving the profits (or losses) from a business’s current activity, but which factors in appropriations to depreciation and operating provisions. The operating income does not take into account either « financial expenses and revenue » or « extraordinary expenses and revenue « .

Own funds: Generic term used to refer to a business’s stable financial resources that it « owns » either directly or indirectly. These include capital, reserves, profits, profits brought forward, investment subsidies and statutory provisions, as opposed to external financing from third parties.
When setting up a business, own funds refer to shareholders’ or partners’ personal contributions to the business’s share capital.


Pacs: A Pacte civil de solidarité is a civil union between non-married partners.

Partner: Individual or legal entity who/which has provided in-kind or cash contributions to the capital of a company.
The term « partner » is primarily used:
– In non-trading partnerships
– In private limited ompanies (Société à responsabilité limitée, SARL), general partnerships (Société en nom collectif, SNC) and limited partnerships (Société en commandite simple, SCS).
The term « shareholder » is used in public limited companies (société anonyme, SA), simplified limited companies (société par actions simplifiée, SAS) and partnerships limited by shares (société en commandite par actions, SCA).

Permit: Administrative authorisation allowing an individual to exercise a trade or a regulated profession.
Authorisation to use a patent.

Personal income tax: This is one of the two ways of taxing company earnings, the other being corporation tax. Personal income tax mainly concerns sole proprietorships, single-member limited liability companies, partnerships and other types of companies if they choose that option.

Private deed: Instrument established by the parties without the involvement of a notary.

Professional lease: Rental contract given to the self-employed or craft businesses (without “craft premises”). These leases are issued for a minimum six-year period, which the lessee can terminate at any time provided hr or she gives six-months’ notice.

Provisions: Terms and conditions set out in a contract.

Proxy: Individual authorised to act on behalf of another individual.


Qualification: Diplomas, certificates and other titles issued by an authority of a Member State recognising professional training.


Receipt: A document by which an individual or entity acknowledges having received sums of money, goods or files from another.

Recipient: Individual receiving an allowance or social benefit.

Registered office: The place where a business is effectively managed, which determines its legal domicile, its nationality and the jurisdiction under which it falls.

Registre du commerce et des sociétés (RCS): The Registre du commerce et des sociétés (Trade and Companies Register, RCS) is a file maintained by each commercial court or Tribunal de Grande Instance (Court of First Instance) ruling on commercial matters, used to register declarations by tradespersons, businesses and Economic Interest Groupings.

Registre spécial des agents commerciaux (RSAC): Register for commercial agents

Registry: Office that maintains the files of proceedings, maintains registries and receives declarations.

Regulated profession: A professional activity for which, in order for an individual to join or practice it, specific conditions must be met.

Rental value: Amount that a building or premises may provide if rented.

Répertoire des métiers: The Répertoire des métiers (Trades register) is a registration file for tradespersons, kept by the Trades Chamber.

Répertoire SIRENE: National register, managed by Insee, that is updated on a daily basis with declarations by businesses transmitted by the Centres de formalités des enterprises. It issues an ID number for the business, which is then made official by registration in the court registers.

Residence: An individual’s official and usual home.

Residence card: A card issued to foreign nationals who have lived in France uninterruptedly for at least three years. It is valid for a period of 10 years, and is automatically renewed at the end of this period.

Residence permit: Document providing acknowledgment by a public authority of the right of an adult foreign national to reside within a country’s territory. A residency permit is defined by its legal status, the reason for admission and the term of validity.

Régime social des indépendants (RSI): The Social Protection Scheme for the Self-Employed is a Social Security fund administered by representatives of the insured, craftspersons, tradespersons and the self-employed professions. It manages this obligatory social security coverage for independent business owners and their assigns; This includes healthcare and maternity coverage, disability and death benefits, prevention, and health and social action. The fund also manages pension schemes for craftspersons and tradespersons.


SA: See « Société anonyme ».

SARL: See « Société à responsabilité limitée ».

SAS: See « Société par actions simplifiée ».

SASU: A Société par actions simplifiée or simplified limited company is a company with only a single partner.

SCIC: Société coopérative d’intérêt collectif (Collective Interest Cooperative Society, SCIC). The goal of a SCIC is to produce or supply goods and services in the collective interest that are of social utility. It allows those who wish to work together in a common local development project – employees, beneficiaries, volunteers, local authorities or any other partners – to participate in the company’s capital. An SCIC is an open-ended company which may take the form of an SA or an SARL, and which is governed by its own law that was issued in July 2001.

SCM: See « Société civile de moyens ».

SCOP: A Société coopérative de production (Production Cooperative Company, SCOP) is a commercial company (SARL or SA) whose partners have expressed the wish to enforce strict equality under the « one partner, one vote » principle. In return, specificities concerning how an SCOP operates, particularly the obligation to set up an asset base (indivisible financial reserves), mean that this form of business offers certain tax advantages.
An SCOP could be a good solution for transferring a business to its employees.

SCP: Société civile professionnelle (professional non trading partnership).(see entry below).

SCS: See « Société en commandite simple ».

Security: Certificate issued by a Société anonyme (public limited company, SA) that attest to the rights of a shareholder or a medium- or long-term lender (bond)

SEL: See « Société d’exercice libéral ».

Self-employed: See under Self-employed profession.

Self-employed profession: The term « self-employed professions » does not refer to a particular status, but rather an « intellectual » occupation based on the personal practice of a science or an art.
One must distinguish between « regulated » and « unregulated » professions.
– The « regulated » self-employed professions are the most well-known and are defined by French legislation. Members of these professions include architects, lawyers, chartered accountants, surveyors, physicians, bailiffs, notaries, general insurance agents, etc.
They require membership in a specific order or organisation and, when they are carried on as part of a professional practice, they must have specific structures (SCP, SEL, etc.).
– The « unregulated » self-employed professions include all economic activities that have nothing to do with trade, craft, industry or agriculture, and which are not regulated professions. Members of these professions include consultants, trainers, experts, translators, etc.

Service provider: Person who supplies services.

Share: A share is a title issued by limited-liability companies (public limited companies, simplified limited companies and partnerships limited by shares) that grants rights to its holder, including:
– The right to vote at general assemblies
– A right to remuneration (dividends and surpluses upon liquidation).
There are different types of shares:
– « Registered shares », when the shareholder’s name is known by the issuing company
– « Bearer shares », when the shareholder’s name is not known to the issuing company.
Bearer shares are issued by listed companies.

Share: The part that each individual either receives or pays.

Share capital: Total amount of cash and in-kind contributions provided by a business’s partners or shareholders when the business is being set up (or later, when the business is raising additional capital).
For each type of company, the law sets the minimum amount of share capital.

Shareholder: A shareholder is an individual or legal entity in possession of one or more shares in a limited company (public limited company, simplified joint-stock corporation or limited partnership).

Shareholders’ equity: The difference between the value of a business’s assets and its accounts payable.
Their carrying amount is entered as a liability in the business’s balance sheet. When a business is being set up, the shareholders’ equity is the capital contributed by those starting a business (partners’ capital and current accounts), which is different from borrowed capital that is loaned to the business (for example by banks).

Shares auditor: Independent professional who assesses a business’s contributions in kind. The shares auditor is appointed, depending on the business structure, either by the partners or by the president of the commercial court.

SIREN: Nine-digit number assigned by Insee when a company is registered in the SIRENE national register, which is used to identify the business.

SIREN number: See SIREN entry.

SIRET: 14-digit number assigned by Insee which identifies a business establishment. It consists of a SIREN number followed by a five-digit NIC number.

SIRET number: See SIRET entry.

SME: Abbreviation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise. This concept is used for statistical and economic purposes to designate a business that employs fewer than 250 people, whose annual turnover is less than €50 million, and whose total assets do not exceed €43 million.

SMI: Small or Medium-Sized Industry

SNC: See « Société en nom collectif ».

Social security: France’s Social Security system was created in 1945. Today, it provides coverage for the entire population of France.
Société à responsabilité limitée (SARL) Private limited company whose capital is divided into shares and whose partners are liable up to the level of their contribution.

Société anonyme (SA): Public limited company whose capital is divided into shares, and whose partners, known as shareholders, are liable up to the level of their contribution. An SA must have a minimum share capital of €37,000; 50% of the cash contributions must be paid at the time of incorporation.

Société civile de moyens (SCM): A Société civile de moyens (nominal partnerhip) is a company founded by the members of a self-employed profession (whether regulated or not) who wish to share premises, equipment (such as medical or computer equipment) and administrative structures with an eye to keeping costs down.
Members of this type of business keep their clients and their professional practices completely separate. Nominal partnerships are not-for-profit: they are simply a means to share costs, such as between two partners who may have a common bank account.

Société d’exercice liberal (SEL): Professional practice whose partners are individuals practicing a self-employed profession.
Société en commandite simple (SCS) A Société en commandite simple (limited partnership, SCS) is a partnership in which there are two types of partners. The first, known as general partners, have the status of partners in a general partnership (and therefore must have the status of tradespersons), and have unlimited liability for the company’s debts. The other partners, known as limited partners, are liable only up to the level of their contribution.

Société en nom collectif (SNC): A Société en nom collectif is a general partnership in which the partners have unlimited joint and several liability for the company’s debts.
Important decisions must, as a rule, be taken unanimously.
Société par actions simplifiée (SAS) A Société par actions simplifiée (simplified limited company, SAS) is a company structure very similar to a société anonyme, whose shareholders are either individuals or legal entities. It is more flexible to operate than an SA. The shareholders are free to set the minimum capital amount.

Sole proprietorship: A sole proprietorship is a business in which the entrepreneur (or sole trader) conducts his or her professional activity in his or her own name. The entrepreneur is fully liable for all professional debts from his or her personal assets. The choice of marital arrangements can thus be critical. A sole proprietorship can have employees.

SSII Société de services en ingénierie informatique (software house)

Statutory: In compliance with a company or association’s rules and articles of incorporation that detail its aims, resources and rules of operation.

Subsidy: Non-reimbursable financial assistance provided to a business, most often by the government or a local authority. There are:
– « Investment subsidies », the goal of which is to help businesses to purchase certain types of equipment
– « Operational subsidies », which are used to top up a business’s turnover when its activity has generated abnormal additional costs, or when the activity is not such that it can be made profitable, but it is deemed to be of use to the community
– « Balancing subsidies », which are used to make up some or all of the losses that a business would have suffered without such support.

Supervisory board: A body within a public limited company with a two-tier structure (management board/supervisory board), mandated to oversee the management of the company by the management board.
It consists of no less than three and no more than eighteen members, all of whom are shareholders. No member of the supervisory board may be part of the management board.


Tacit renewal: Automatic renewal of a contract at its term, based on a tacit renewal clause or on the continuation of a contractual relationship.

Termination: Act or ruling that brings a contract to an end.

Trade name: Name given to certain partnerships (primarily professional non-trading partnerships), consisting of the name(s) of one or more partners followed by the words « &Co. « .

Tradesperson: A person who carries out commercial transactions as a regular occupation (Article L.121-1 of the Commercial Code). Tradespersons are registered with the Trade and Companies Register (RCS). They operate in their own name and on their own behalf.

Turnover: Total amount of invoices that a company issues to third parties. This represents the total sales of goods or services carried out in a given period.


UCANSS: Union des caisses nationales de Sécurité sociale (Union of National Social Security Funds)

Umbrella company: A company that exists to invoice services provided by individuals who do not wish to become self-employed. Umbrella companies pay out the sums received in the form of wages. Note: the legitimacy of this practice, which has expanded in recent years, is questioned by some labour law specialists.

URSSAF: Union de recouvrement des cotisations de sécurité sociale et d’allocations familiales (Social Security and Family Benefit Contribution Collection Offices)


VAT: VAT (Value-Added Tax) is an indirect tax on consumption that is levied on nearly all goods and services consumed and used in France. The final consumer is responsible for paying VAT, rather than the business that produced the good or service. The business invoices the customer for VAT and later pays it over to the Public Treasury, deducting any VAT it has paid on purchases included in its cost price.

VRP: Voyageur représentant placier (a travelling salesperson)

VSE: A business with fewer than 10 employees.


Welfare: Protection provided to insured persons (reimbursement for certain types of care, drugs, equipment, etc.).