Guide to Starting a Business in France

7. Business Premises in France

  1. Running Your Business from Home
  2. Buying Business Premises

7.1. Running Your Business from Home in France

As a general rule, you do not need to seek any change of use from the planning authority if you propose to run your business from home, provided the principal use of the property continues to be your home, and you are not employing staff at the property.

Clearly, if you are making changes to the property, or constructing additional buildings that require prior approval, then you will need to make application for planning consent to the mairie in the normal manner.

If you live above the ground floor in an apartment block, and you intend to receive goods or clients at the property, then you are required to make application to the local mairie/préfecture for joint use of the property for professional and residential activity. This rule applies even though you may not be proposing to carry out building works requiring planning consent. No consent is required if you do not intend to receive visitors or goods.

If your property is located on the ground floor, then even if you intend to receive visitors and goods no such consent for change of use to mixed domestic and business is required.

If authorisation is required it will normally be personal only so will not run with the property if and when you sell it.

Whether or not such an application is required, you would do no harm to consult your mairie/préfecture at the outset if you consider the activities may cause a potential problem with your neighbours. Whatever right you may have to run a business from your home, your neighbours can still bring a legal action if they consider your business activities are causing a nuisance.

In addition, if you live in a block of flats or other shared accommodation, you cannot exercise any professional activities if the management regulations relating to the property do not permit you to do so. Some limited professional activity, such as writing or telephone work, may be permitted. You need to check with the syndic and/or the règlement de copropriété.

Other than the need for planning consent, depending on the type of business you propose to start, you need to consider other regulatory requirements of your proposed business activity. In particular, those concerning health and safety and food hygeine. France has its regulations in these areas like any other country.

You should contact a relevant professional association, the Chambre de Commerce/Metiers or préfecture to find out more.

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