Articles R. 123-220 to R. 123-234 of the French Commercial Code brought in a national system of identification of individuals and corporate bodies and of their establishments in the register of companies and establishments (Sirene: database for the register of companies and establishments). Maintaining this register is the responsibility of Insee.
As well as maintaining the register, Insee has three other missions:
Inter-administrative coordination and information:
- Insee attributes a unique identification number, the Siren number, to individuals and corporate bodies and a Siret number to each of their establishments.
- Insee constantly keeps associates and partners of Sirene informed of movements recorded in the register (creations, amendments, cessations).
- It is a tool providing knowledge of the production system. Insee determines and attributes to each company and establishment an APE code, which represents the principal activity carried out by the unit. Sirene also manages other economic data, the main ones being about location, salaried workforce, the nature of the movements that affect the units (e.g. origin of their creation) and their past history.
- It is a reference file that serves as a basis for all statistical investigations into companies, surveys or exploitation of administrative sources.
Informing the public:
- Article R123-232 of the French Commercial Code authorises Insee to pass on to individuals or official bodies, under certain conditions, certain information from the register.
Insee is responsible for identifying:
- individual entrepreneurs who are operating independently in a self-employed capacity (e.g. trader, doctor);
- corporate bodies under private law (e.g. a public limited company) or under public law, subject to commercial law (e.g. EDF);
- State bodies and departments and local authorities, as well as all their establishments
The Register therefore lists all individual entrepreneurs or corporate bodies that:
- are listed in the business and associations register;
- are listed in the trade directory;
- employ salaried workers;
- have tax obligations;
- receive public funding.
According to articles R. 123-1 to R. 123-30 of the French Commercial Code, centres for business formalities (CFE) receive a single file, which companies are obliged to provide, including declarations about their creation, amendments to their situation or to the cessation of their activity. The centres must then pass on the declarations to the administrations, individuals or bodies concerned.
Articles D. 123-235 and D. 123-236 of the French Commercial Code stipulate that the only identification number that a company can be required to give in its relations with administrations or official bodies is the identity number that is given when it registers in the companies and establishments register (Sirene).
Business formalities centres (CFE) receive a single file containing the declarations that companies must submit concerning their creation, changes in their situation or the cessation of their activity. The centres then pass these declarations on the appropriate administrations, individuals or bodies.
Categories and area of competence of the CFE
There are 7 categories of CFE:
- chambers of trade (CM);
- chambers of commerce and industry (CCI) ;
- commercial courts;
- chambers of agriculture (CA);
- tax offices (CDI);
- national chamber of inland waterway transport.
The area of competence of a CFE depends on the activity or the legal category of the company. Therefore in almost all cases the nature of the formality to be carried out, the event to be declared or the establishment concerned do not affect the choice of competent CFE: declarations regarding the employment of a first salaried worker or a suspension of employment are issued by Urssaf offices and are therefore not, strictly speaking, of concern for the CFE. These principles are set by articles R. 123-3 and R. 123-4 of the French Commercial Code.
The location of the company or the establishment provides the basis for finding the contact details of the appropriate CFE.
INSEE has designed a range of statistical products that can help anyone wanting to start their own business to prepare their project: