VAT registration in France – a practical guide

9 February 2017

European companies may need to register for VAT in France before they carry out transactions. But be warned, France doesn’t allow companies to complete VAT forms online. Instead, companies have to contact the foreign companies’ tax service (Service des impôts des entreprises étrangères) in Noisy-Le-Grand in order to request a French VAT number in writing.

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How to request a VAT number

As a general rule, the following documents will be requested. However, depending on the individual company and its activity there may be follow up questions or requests for additional documents

You will need to provide:

  • Copy of the extract from the national trade register in your country (less than 3 months old)
  • Original of the VAT certificate proving the company is VAT registered in another European country (less than 3 months old).
  • Scan of the original articles of association – Uncertified free translation of the articles of association into French.

Document which serves as proof of your company’s bank account details abroad. Depending on your country, a copy of a bank statement might suffice but there are also cases where companies have been asked to provide a specific confirmation letter signed by their bank manager

The above information has to be sent recorded together with a covering letter and a form Cerfa n°15415*01).

When to request it

Companies should request their French VAT number as soon as they realise that their transactions require them to do so. There is no penalty for requesting that VAT registration late but the tax authorities can apply penalties for filing declarations late which in turn leads to late payments (these penalties can reach up to 80% of the amount of VAT not declared).

How long will it take?

It will take four to six weeks from the time you send your request to the receipt of your French VAT registration. However, it is worth taking into account that it sometimes takes just as long to collect the documents mentioned above and to obtain a translation of your articles of association.

Author: Stéphane Sintes, HLB France, COGEP

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