It is impossible to establish any kind of business in France without registering and obtaining a Siret number.
In England the choices for setting up a business are few, but in France there are a number of options between the micro enterprise (sole trader) at one end to the SARL (limited company) at the other. The one essential piece of advice everyone seemed to reiterate was that it was easy to move up the ladder of complexity, but very difficult to move down.
Just before I made my decision a new category of micro enterprise, the auto- entrepreneur, was created. This was the very simplest of all the possibilities. Basically, if you register as an auto-entrepreneur, you pay tax at the rate of 13% of turnover – and that’s it as far as a book-keeping requirement is concerned. There is no legal need to record outgoings.
It seemed sensible to me to start The Glass Key in the simplest way possible and look at the more complex possibilities after we were established and when growth was a reality rather than a plan on a piece of paper.
Patsy and I made the trip to the chamber of commerce in Poitiers and met with a Madame Mallecot. I did not think that registering a business could be fun, but Mme Mallecot made the whole thing a pleasurable occasion. She asked me on what date I would like the business to start and, to her amusement, I chose April 1st – a date that has the same connotations in France as in England. We emerged with a Recepisse de Declaration de Debut D’Activite d’Auto-entrepreneur and with the promise that the Siret would arrive shortly in the post.
Three days later the Certificate of Inscription arrived giving us the Siret number and confirming that the enterprise would start on 1 April 2009.