Creating an Association
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The French law 'Loi de 1901' is designed to allow a group of two or more
people to meet and to raise funds as well as having the advantage of being
a legal entity. The law allowed any group of individuals to set up a
legally-recognised association without incurring too much red tape or
expensive cotisations. Associations can make profits, but only for
re-investment or to cover costs.
The first thing to do is to decide whether or not you want to formally
register your association. The 1901 law allows any group of people to meet
and share common ideas without completing any legal formalities at all.
If you opt for this formula however, your association will have no legal
statute. This means it won't be able to open a bank account in its own
name, hire people or carry out any other activities that must be
undertaken by what French lawyers call a moral person (personne morale).
If you do decide to declare your association, you need to draw up a list
of statutes setting out exactly what your group intends to do. Counselling
in France statutes are here. If
necessary, your local prefecture can provide you with a series of standard
statutes that can be adapted to your association's needs.
It is important that the statutes take into account all of the possible
activities your association may want to carry out.
You must set out on a declaration what your activities and aims are to be.
Once you have formally registered your group it will only be allowed to do
what is mentioned in the statutes, which can only be changed by presenting
a new declaration to the authorities. Therefore it's a good idea to keep
the statutes as general as possible to cover everything you might decide
You will also have to write down the full name of the association and its
official address, which can be someone's house, an office, any building
where the activities might take place or where you live. You need to
provide the names, addresses, dates and places of birth and occupations of
the people who will be running the group.
The next step is to photocopy everything three times - one copy for you
and two for your local préfecture or sous-préfecture, making sure that the
statutes are signed and dated by at least two members of the association's
Finally, go along to your local préfecture to declare your association. It
will appear in the Journal Officiel, which records all legal matters
across the country. This step costs you approximately 35€ and a stamped
self-addressed A4 envelope.
The bureau is the association's management team. Most small associations
have a bureau made up of a President, Secretary and Treasurer, who are
appointed by the members. You can have more than these, of course, but you
will need these three, and each bureau member will have certain tasks.
The president heads the association, the secretary carries out secretarial
tasks like taking minutes of meetings and sending out correspondence to
members. The treasurer is in charge of the accounts.
At least once a year, all of an association's members MUST meet to discuss
the group's business, elect bureau members etc. It is also possible to
call extraordinary general assemblies if necessary.
Associations can make profits, but they must be re-invested in the
association or used to cover the group's costs. Classic profit-making
activities carried out by associations include organising dances, fêtes
and other social events in order to raise money for the group. However, if
profit-making becomes your association's primary activity, you could find
yourself in trouble.
It is possible for an association to have the pursuit of money as its
number one aim but this must be clearly mentioned in the statutes and
money-making groups must pay certain business taxes.
Registered associations have the right apply for subsidies from all of the
For more information
Contact your local préfecture - you can find telephone number in the
yellow pages at
http://www.pagesjaunes.fr or on the website
See also the 'vie associative' section of government's exhaustive
'Service-Public' website at