Declaring beneficial owners to avoid troubles with the French law

Beneficial owners in French companies

In the recent years, countries have adopted a pretty harsh stance on money laundering. As you might expect, France is no exception. In 2016, the Sapin Bill was passed to help prevent money-laundering and terrorism. How do they do that? By having all company creators declare every beneficial owner.



  1. What’s a beneficial owner?
  2. When should I declare them?
  3. How do I declare them?
  4. Is there any added cost when declaring them?
  5. What happens if I don’t do it?


What’s a beneficial owner?

A beneficial owner of a company refers to: “An individual who owns, directly or indirectly, more than 25% of the company’s shares or voting rights, or that possesses some sort of control over the management, administration or direction body of the company, or over the General Meeting”. Basically, if someone in your company has any sort of power, the authorities should probably learn about them.

This obligation concerns companies, economic interest groups, associations, and foundations that have been entered in the Companies Register. In other words, it concerns just about everybody.


When should I declare them?

For companies in formation, this document must either be filed when registering the company, or within 15 days after receiving the receipt of registration.


How do I declare them?

The legal representative just has to send a couple of documents to the registry:


In said declaration, there must be information on the company/legal entity, and on the beneficial owners themselves:

  • Information on the company/legal entity:
    • Its name or corporate name
    • Its company type
    • The address of the registered office
    • If applicable, its identification and RCS numbers, as well as the city where the registry is located
  • Information on the beneficial owners:
    • First names, last name, date and place of birth, nationality, personal address of the natural person(s)
    • The methods of control exercised over the company/legal entity
    • The date on which the natural person (s) became the beneficial owner of the company or legal entity.

The original copy of this document must be dated and signed by the legal representative of the company


Is there any added cost when declaring them?

  • For the initial registration, the one done within 15 days of receiving the receipt, the price is € 24.80
  • If you want to modify the document the document related to the beneficial owner, the price is € 48.49


What happens if I don’t do it?

If you fail to file the declaration, or if some of the information is wrong or missing, it doesn’t matter whether or not it was voluntary: regardless, it counts as an offense, and you can be jailed for up to 6 months, and pay a fine of up to € 7 500.

In other words: pay attention when you do it!