Guide to Legal Process of Buying Property in France
9. Société Civile Immobilière (SCI)
This is merely a summary of our detailed guide to SCIs, which you can find at Société Civile Immobilière.
Broadly speaking, there are three different legal structures that can be used for the joint or multiple ownership of French property.
You can own French property in one of three ways:
- 'En tontine'
- 'Société Civile Immobilière (SCI)'
It is also possible to buy property in France using a UK limited company, but there seems no obvious reason to do so, and there are fiscal disadvantages, notably in relation to capital gains tax.
We provide a detailed consideration of the first two forms of ownership at ownership indivision and ownership en tontine.
An SCI is a rather specialist type of French company (société) that is constituted for the ownership and management of property (immobilière).
The company will have a distinct legal identity from that of its shareholders, although except in very particular circumstances, it has no separate fiscal identity. For this reason it is said to be 'fiscally transparent'.
Many French and international buyers choose to buy a French property through an SCI because of the advantages it offers over the other two forms of ownership.
The main reasons are:
- To allow purchase of the property by multiple persons;
- To provide stability and continuity in the ownership and management of family property;
- To facilitate the transfer and ownership of property;
- To avoid the constraints of French inheritance laws;
- To create tax advantages;
- To protect the family home from business creditors.
You can read more about all of these issues, as well as a consideration of how to set up and run an SCI, in our full Guide to a Société Civile Immobilière.
Next: Conclusion - Ownership Structures and Inheritance
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