French VAT registration for foreign companies

French VAT is called ‘Taxe sur la Valeur Ajoutée’, or ‘TVA’, and foreign companies providing taxable supplies of goods or services in France are required to obtain a French VAT number.  If your company is registered in the EU and needs to register for VAT in France, including obtaining an EU Intracommunity number, the process is reasonably straightforward.

In this article, we will cover the following questions:

  1. How do I register for VAT in France as a foreign company? What documentation is required?
  2. How long does it take to get a French VAT number?
  3. How often do I need to file a French VAT return?
  4. How do I pay VAT in France? 
  5. What is the VAT rate in France?
  6. How do I claim a VAT refund?
1. How do I register for VAT in France as a foreign company? What documentation is required?

French VAT registration is effected via the department of the Tax Office that deals with foreign companies, la Service des Impòts des Entreprises Etrangêres. The application involves the completion of Form EE0 which should be submitted by post.

The following documents may be required for registration. Additional documents may also be requested depending on the trading activities of the company.

  • a copy of the certificate of incorporation of your company
  • a copy of the Memorandum and Articles of association
  • any proof that you are already carrying out, or planning to do so, your activity in France (e.g contract, invoice);
  • a copy of the official documents showing the names of the directors, share capital, and activities of the company;
  • a copy of the identity documents of the director of the company;
  • an original mandate signed by both the agent and the director

The French Tax Office will accept company documents in their original language and only request a brief translation of the key points.

2. How long does it take to get a French VAT number?

Although the registration process is relatively straightforward, it can take up to 1-3 months for the French Tax Office to process your application from the point of submission.

Once the French VAT application has been accepted, a French tax code (SIRET) is issued, and automatically validated for intracommunity transactions on the VIES register.

3. How often do I need to file a French VAT return?

It is compulsory to file all VAT returns online through the Tax Office Website. The frequency of returns depends on the expected turnover of your company. Monthly VAT filing is required as standard for all registered companies, and quarterly filing is allowed when the annual VAT payable does not exceed 4,000 Euros.

The deadline to submit your returns and pay the VAT due is the 19th of the month following the period end.

If you are looking for assistance with filing your French VAT returns, we can offer this service at a charge of 130 Euros per return, whether it is monthly or quarterly. Alternatively, and to help you save costs, we can give you some consultancy time to prepare you to file and pay the tax yourselves. Please contact us at if any of these services would be of interest to you.

4. How do I pay VAT in France? 

Any VAT due must be settled through your monthly/quarterly VAT returns via direct debit. The Tax Office will debit your company bank account (SEPA bank accounts are included in this) on or after the 20th of each month/quarter.

5. What are the VAT rates in France?
20% Standard rate applying to the supply of goods and services
10% and 5.5% Reduced rate for certain goods and services including food products, Gas and electricity, passenger transport, hotels, pensions, gîtes ruraux, cultural activities (e.g. books, cinema, theatre), certain repair works and renovations carried out on private residence, some domestic waste collection, certain domestic care services
2.1% A special reduced rate, which applies to a limited scope of goods and services such as socialised medication and television licences
0% Zero rate – Intra-community and international transport
6. How do I claim a VAT refund?

VAT credits are usually carried forward to the following month and offset against the VAT due in the following return. EU companies can request VAT refunds online via your Tax Office account – the maximum period for each refund request is 12 months.

The deadline to submit the VAT recovery form is 30 September of the following year in which the VAT was incurred. You must include the original invoices or documents as supporting evidence showing that VAT has been paid.

Ready to register for VAT or have any questions?

If you want to register for a French VAT number or would like us to take care of your French VAT compliance, please contact us and we will guide you on the next steps. A summary of our French Tax services can also be found here.

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