France: providing services and travelling for business

Guidance for UK businesses on rules for selling services to France.

The authoritative source for French market regulations is the French government. This guidance links to official French sources wherever possible.

Trade and services regulations in France

If you’re a UK business offering services in France, you’ll need to follow French regulations about:

  • getting authorisations or licences to provide a service
  • complying with specific local business regulations
  • EEA nationality requirements which could prevent you from providing services in some sectors

The French e-government portal for service providers can help you to:

  • find out about providing services in France
  • understand local regulations
  • complete any relevant administrative procedures online

Consider appointing an English-speaking lawyer in France to help you comply with specific regulations.

To find out if EEA nationality requirements apply to you, contact the appropriate competent authority or the French Ministry of the Economy and Finance (site in French).

If you have complaints or queries about anti-competitive practices contact the autorité de la concurrence (site in French).

There are also non-governmental organisations that provide advice to UK businesses operating in France, for example, the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry. These organisations and their views are not associated with the UK government.

Trade reservations

To sell or provide services to customers in France, you must follow local laws. If in doubt, you should get professional advice.

Reservations are part of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. They reserve the right of each party to keep or make new laws restricting investment, or the sale of services, in ways that would otherwise breach the rules in the agreement.

Check which reservations apply to the sale of services from the UK to France. This includes an interactive tool to find reservations that are already in place.

VAT on sales of digital services

To use the UK’s VAT Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) to declare sales of digital services to EU consumers, businesses need to register for MOSS in an EU member state.

Find out more about paying VAT on sales of digital services.

Ownership of companies registered in France

If you have a UK business, you might face restrictions on your ability to own, manage or direct a company registered in France or any other EEA country.

Read more about this in our guidance relating to the EEA and Switzerland.

Setting up a business

You can learn how to set up a business in France on these websites:

If you’re a UK legal professional who has investments in law firms in France, contact the French National Bar Council for further information on the implications for your investment.

Business travel and entry requirements

UK business travellers and service providers may need a visa, work permit or other documentation.

Check our travel to France for work guide for detailed information on:

  • types of visa and work permit routes available
  • exemptions that may apply to you or the activity you are planning to undertake

The official visa website for France and the Business France website have more information about:

  • visas including intra-corporate transfers
  • work and residence permits
  • supporting documentation
  • other conditions

Check which actions travellers visiting Europe need to take.

Social security payments for employees

Find out if you need to pay National Insurance in the UK or social security contributions in France.

Recognition of professional qualifications

To check what you need to do in France, read our guidance on professional qualifications in the EEA and Switzerland.

If you need to take action to secure the recognition of your professional qualification in France, these sources can help you:

UK statutory auditors working in France

For UK statutory auditors, the French competent authority (site in French) should be able to provide further information.

UK lawyers working in France

If you’re a UK-qualified lawyer working in France, using either a French or UK professional title, you should contact the local Bar association in the region in which you are working or the French National Bar for specific advice.

Data transfer and GDPR

On 28 June 2021, the EU formally adopted ‘adequacy decisions’ for the UK, delivered through:

‘Adequacy decisions’ allow for the ongoing free flow of personal data from the EU/EEA to the UK.

Read guidance on using data in your personal business or other organisation.

Published 28 February 2019
Last updated 21 June 2021 + show all updates
  1. Removed 'French legislation' section

  2. Added 'Trade reservations' guidance. Updated 'Recognition of professional qualifications' with new UK contact point.

  3. Updated the Business travel and entry requirements section to include a link to guidance on travelling to France for work.

  4. Updated the following sections to reflect the changes created by the UK and EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement: overview, trade regulations, VAT on sales of digital services, business travel and entry requirements, social security payments for employees, recognition of professional qualifications, and data transfer and GDPR.

  5. Guidance for ‘Recognition of professional qualifications’ and ‘Social security payments for employees’ updated.

  6. Change to title to include travelling for business

  7. Update to 'Business travel and entry requirements' section

  8. First published.