Creating and Running a Non-Profit Association in France

Information on how to form and run a non-profit association (Association Loi 1901) in France. This simple, legal organisation is appropriate for sports clubs, national groups, community and social organisations…

An Association Loi 1901 is the term used in France for a non-profit-making organisation of two or more people. The name comes for the convention having entered into French law on 1 July 1901.

A non-profit association created in France can function without being declared. In this case it does not exist as a legal entity and falls under the collective ownership of all its members.

However, the association must be declared if a bank account is needed, if it collects membership fees or arranges fundraising, or if the members undertake any legal action or buy or sell on its behalf.

Declaration requires the following:

  • Declaration with the Préfecture or Sous-Préfecture
  • Declaration of the association's creation in the Official Journal (Journal Officiel). The official journal is a daily paper edited by the French government containing legal information, official declarations and information concerning new associations

Note: In Alsace and Moselle, the situation is different, see below.

Declaration Procedures

Declaration is free. It should be made at the Préfecture or Sous-Préfecture of the department where the association is located, or directly online

The declaration must contain the following information:

  • The exact name of the association followed by its abbreviation if there is one
  • The object or aim of the association
  • The address of the main office (a physical address, not post box)
  • The full names, addresses, birth dates and birthplaces of the people in charge of the administration
  • A copy of its statute dated and certified by at least two people
  • A compte rendu signed by a person in charge of the administration
  • A list of association members
  • Addresses

Other information which may be included:

  • Website
  • Email address

A receipt (récépissé) of declaration is sent by the administration within 5 days.

Official Journal

An application form to declare the creation of the association in the Journal Officiel can be filled in at the same time as the declaration is made. Publication of the new association must appear in the Journal Officiel within a month following the declaration at the Préfecture.

There is a fee to be paid for this publication.

Management and the AGM

The structure of the management team (president, treasurer etc.) can be arranged as best suits the association - there are no rules on this - although all members must be invited to attend an Annual General Meeting held by the Association's management.

Staff and salaries

The Chèque Emploi Associatif (CEA) service can be used by registered non-profit associations in France to simplify the process of employing and paying staff. Under the CEA system, social security, pension and unemployment contributions are made to one agency, the Centre National Chèque Emploi Associatif. The service can only be used by associations which make no profit, are registered in France as an Association Loi 1901 and have a SIRET number.

Registration for the Chèque Emploi Associatif service requires a SIRET number.

The Chèque Emploi Associatif is available for non-profit associations employing people for a maximum of 14,463 hours per year. This represents 9 full time employees, but the association can split the hours between full time or part time employees.

How it works

Eligible associations may register for the Chèque Emploi Associatif service online or by post.

  • Sign up online at CEA (in French)

After registration for the service is completed, the Centre National Chèque Emploi Associatif sends a book of vouchers called the “identification du salarié”. A voucher must be completed for each salaried employee, whether new or existing, which serves as a declaration of the employee and also serves as the employment contract. Vouchers may be submitted online or sent via post.

The association is also sent, from their bank, a Chèque Emploi Associatif book, which includes:

  • Cheques to pay the employee, which are used like normal bank cheques. The association is not obliged to use them to pay the salary, and can use association cheques, direct deposit or cash (there is a cap for cash payments) instead
  • Vouchers for employee social charges (le volet social) which has information about the employment contract and salary already filled in

After the employee is paid, the employer must submit the pay information to the Centre National Chèque Emploi Associatif, which will then calculate the compulsory social contributions to be made and send the payslip. Pay information can be submitted online through the CEA website.

Social security, pension and unemployment charges are levied by URSSAF each month and paid by the association by automatic bank withdrawal.

Modification or Dissolution of the Association

Any changes that occur in the Association must be declared at the Préfecture within 3 months. They should be noted in a register that the Association must be able to produce on request to the administrative and legal authorities.

Changes made in the Association may be published in the Journal Officiel although this is not compulsory.

There are three kinds of dissolution:

  • Voluntary dissolution (dissolution volontaire)
  • Legal dissolution (dissolution judiciaire)
  • Administrative dissolution (dissolution administrative)

This region does not fall under the 1901 Association law. For associations with a head office in the Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin or Moselle, the magistrate's court is qualified to receive the inscription of an association. This must be followed by an announcement in a newspaper of legal advertisements.

  • Visit the French Government website for more information on the rules applying to associations in Alsace-Moselle (in French)

The main differences from the Loi 1901 are:

  • Seven people are necessary to create an association
  • Associations can be profit making as long as they are not in direct competition with a business
  • Profit-making associations may be subject to business tax
Further Information
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