The obligatory training course for those seeking registration as a new trade based business has been abolished.
Until now, anyone setting up an artisan business in France has been required to participate in a business training course at the Chambre de Metiers, called the Stage de Préparation à l'Installation (SPI).
The obligation applied to all trade based professions, whatever type of legal and tax structure that was to be adopted for the business.
Only those holding a business qualification, or who had at least three years previous experience running a business, were entitled to register their business without the need for prior attendance on the course.
The course lasted around 30 hours, taken over one week. In some departments it was also possible to do the course on-line.
The cost of the course varied across the country, but was generally around €250.
Of course, as the course was presented in French, attendance posed a problem for many prospective expatriate business owners who were not competent in the French language, particularly as participants were expected to do a test at the end of the course! Thankfully, many local chambres took a relaxed view of the test for English participants, meaning many simply came along each day, sitting at the back of the room and picked up their certificate at the end of the week!
Some local CdMs run the course in the English language, such as in the Dordogne, but the cost could be over €400.
Apart from the cost, many participants criticised the content of the course, which was frequently more appropriate for those setting up a limited company in France than a small business being run as a micro-entreprise. The course covers such topics as market surveys, accounting and finances, VAT, personal management, legal structures, and business planning.
In addition, the obligation to attend such a course did not apply to those setting up a sales based business through the Chambre de Commerce, or those setting up as one of the profession liberale, a difference in treatment that was never explained or justified.
The Loi PACTE law now puts an end to the obligatory nature of course, although it is still possible to attend it on a voluntary basis, with the cost now capped by the government at €194.