Creating an EI: How exactly do I do it?

Creating an EI in France

If you’re alone creating a business in France, you might be intimidated by the paperwork required to open your business. France doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to paperwork, after all. Thankfully though, you’re in luck: the EI (Sole proprietorship) is one of the easiest types of companies to create! All you have to do is follow the following steps:


  1. Check whether the activity is regulated or not
  2. Visit the Corporate Formalities Center (CFE)
  3. Do an introductory internship in management
  4. Find an office
  5. Choose a name for your EI
  6. Finish the paperwork for the creation of the EI at the CFE

1- Check whether the activity is regulated or not

This is an important step because if it is, you’ll have to make sure your EI fulfills additional conditions. You may also be required to carry out specific procedures (application for a professional card, authorization, registration to a list or an order, etc.).

If you want to know if the activity is regulated, you should check one of the followings:

  • the ” Activities and regulated professions ” section of the AFE website,
  • professional organizations and unions,
  • the Chamber of Commerce and Industry or Chamber of Crafts and Crafts,
  • the departmental directorate in charge of the protection of populations (DDPP), the departmental directorate in charge of social cohesion and the protection of populations (DDCSPP) or the management of companies, competition, consumption, labor, and employment (DIECCTE) in Overseas,
  • economic action services of the prefecture.

2- Visit the Corporate Formalities Center (CFE)

The CFE must do quite a bit of paperwork for you. It has the task of centralizing the documents of the registration file and transmitting them to the various bodies involved in the creation of the company: The Urssaf, tax services, INSEE, Social Security for the self-employed (formerly RSI), etc.

The CFE branch that you must go to is located:

  • to the chamber of commerce and industry if your activity is commercial or industrial
  • to the chamber of merchants and crafts if your activity is craft or mixed (artisanal and commercial),
  • to the Ursaff if your activity is liberal
  • at the registry of the commercial court, if it is a commercial agent (doesn’t matter if it’s a “Natural Person” or a “civil society”)
  • to the chamber of agriculture if your activity is agricultural

The CFE will give you the documents you need to fill in as well as the list of documents required to proceed with the registration of the company.

If you opted for the EIRL (Individual Entrepreneur with Limited Liability), the “declaration of non-seizability” (see “types of one-person companies” ) must be deposited with the CFE. It will then file it to either:

  • The Trade and Companies Register (RCS) if the entrepreneur is a trader,
  • The Trade Directory (RM) if the entrepreneur is an artisan,
  • The register chosen by the contractor if his activity is the subject of a double registration in the RCS and the RM,
  • The Register kept by the Chamber of Agriculture if the entrepreneur is a farmer.
  • The Special Register of Commercial Agents (RSAC) held at the registry of the Commercial Court if he is a commercial agent,
  • The special register kept by the registry of the commercial court if he is a liberal professional.

The CFE is also competent to receive requests for Accre (partial exemption from social charges).
If you want to benefit from this service, you have to file a specific application form for Accre. You can either file the declaration during the creation of the company, or within 45 days.

Note: if the spouse of the creator participates regularly in the activity, it will be necessary to declare to the CFE the option for one of the following statutes: collaborating spouse, employee or partner.

3- Do an introductory internship in management

For Artisans

An installation preparation course (SPI) of at least 30 hours is mandatory if you want to apply for registration in the Trade Directory (the cost of about 260 € may vary from a trades chamber and from crafts to another).

This course aims, through courses and practical work, to allow future leaders to know the conditions of their installation, the problems of financing, the techniques of forecasting and control of their exploitation, to measure the knowledge essential to the sustainability of their business and to inform them of the possibilities for continuing education adapted to their situation.

You may be exempted from this formation depending on your diplomas or experience.
Even in this case though, this internship remains available to the spouse and eventual family members.

For traders

An introductory course in management is also offered to the creators of commercial or industrial companies, but it remains optional.

Reimbursement of internship fees

In some cases, these courses can be paid back:

  • If you are a job seeker, for example, Pôle Emploi (The French Employment Agency) can grant you Individual Training Assistance (AIF), after validation by your Pôle Emploi advisor.

However, remember that you need to ask to be reimbursed at least 15 days before the start of the internship.

  • If you have to follow an SPI (Instalment Preparation Internship), the cost of this internship can be supported by your training council instituted at your regional chamber of trades and crafts.

Be careful! The request must be submitted at least 1 month before the start of the training.

4- Find an office

You can exercise your activity, or set up your office in:

  • a specific room that you can rent or buy,
  • a domiciliation company, in a nursery, …
  • at home, under certain conditions.

Whatever your situation is, you will have to prove to the CFE that he does indeed use this office.  (lease, contract of provision, sublease contract, domiciliation contract, etc).

You need to remember that setting up an office can be particularly tedious, time-consuming and expensive, though. You can always find help by visiting

5- Choose a company name

For liberal professions, there’s no notion of “equity”, and from a legal point of view, there’s no difference between the individual and the company. As such, there’s no need for the company to have a name. However, it’s always possible to add a business name for commercial purposes.
Traders and craftsmen are free to define a business name (identifying the business capital). It can be descriptive, it can be fancy; your choice!

As a precaution, you should always check with the INPI (National Institute of Industrial Property) that the name chosen for your company is not already used by another company or has not been the subject of a trademark deposit.

If you want to create a website, it’s also worth your time to check that the domain name is available.

6- Finish the paperwork for the creation of the company at the CFE

Once these steps have been completed, You have to:

Either go to the CFE to file the complete file of his declaration of activity…

The application form must include a number of supporting documents that the CFE will send to the various bodies concerned: Urssaf, Tax Services, Social Security for the self-employed (formerly RSI), etc.

The sole proprietorship will be “officially born” when it is registered.

Once the complete file has been filed, the CFE will soon give you a “Business Creation File Receipt” (RDDCE) including the mention “pending registration” and, possibly, the identification number of the company that the INSEE gave you. This RDDCE is valid until the notification of the registration of the company to the head of the enterprise or at most for 1 month from its issuance. It enables it to carry out the steps necessary to start up the company’s activity with public and private organizations (EDF, La Poste, etc.).

From this moment, the company is in the process of registration. It will be officially born on the day of her registration in the Trade and Companies Register.

Note: the CFE also plays the role of a one-stop shop and can receive all the applications for registration, authorization or declaration necessary to start certain activities, beyond the actual creation (ex: authorization of exercise, registration on professional registers, a declaration in town hall or prefecture related to the opening, etc.).

…Or declare your business online

The file sent electronically must contain:

  • a digital form containing all the information declared,
  • the digital or digitized documents to be provided (including the mandates given to carry out the formalities of the creation of the company) as well as the constituent authentic acts, except if they must be presented in original or in paper form,
  • and, if applicable, a proof of payment of the additional costs incurred.
  • The CFE will give you an electronic acknowledgment of receipt as soon as the file is received.

The business-to-business website also enables businesses to complete business declaration formalities online, regardless of the activity they perform, and to apply for cards, authorizations, registration with a professional order, etc. in the context of the creation of a business engaged in certain regulated service activities.

If you’re a micro-entrepreneur, you can declare your activity for free over the internet on the websites or