The registre du commerce et des sociétés


wb00882_.gif (970 octets) The Registre du Commerce et des Sociétés was created in France in 1919 to draw-up a register of companies and entrepreneurs, date and assure the storage of company documents.  In the beginning, it was a simple directory of information without a real guarantee or legal value.  Over time, legislation changed and the Registre du Commerce et des Sociétés (RCS) evolved.  Today, the register is able to offer the public information on the legal, financial and economic status of companies and, as such, plays an essential role as a source of formal publicity of legal acts.

Assigned to the Greffier of the Tribunal de Commerce who assures the verification and distribution of the information it contains, the Registre du Commerce et des Sociétés is placed under the supervision of a “juge-commis” nominated by the President of the Tribunal de Commerce.  Because of the rigorous verification of the information and supporting documents it receives, it constitutes an efficient means of assuring that businessmen and companies fulfil their legal obligations.

Registration at the Registre du Commerce et des Sociétés has important legal consequences:  it gives legal status to commercial companies and shopkeepers.

Each stage of a company’s existence – from its creation, changes in company management or structure, to its closing-down – must be declared to the Greffe:  shopkeepers, commercial and non-trading companies and economic interest groupings are obliged to report to the Greffe via their Centre de Formalités des Entreprises (CFE: centres for administrative formalities).  The Greffe is the CFE for non-trading companies and other non-commercial businesses.

Prior to registering a company, the Greffier verifies all elements of the company’s file, in order to assure that it conforms with legal and regulatory texts, and only then draws-up the “extrait du Registre de Commerce” (extrait K bis).  The K bis justifies the legal existence of a company and allows the entrepreneur to prove his or her status as a business person.  The K bis gives the latest recorded status of a company as known by the RCS at the date of publication.

A veritable company “identity card”, the K bis is widely used by a company’s competitors, partners, creditors, clients, etc. to check on the company’s financial standing.

As a company is also obliged to report its annual accounts to the Greffe, they also are made available to all interested parties.

wb00882_.gif (970 octets) What, exactly, can be found in the Registre de Commerce et des Sociétés?

It contains:

  • a chronological inventory of all declarations received daily by the Greffe – company registrations, modifications and deregistrations

  • individual files containing all the information given at the time of registration, later modifications to the company, up to the time of the closing down of the company

  • supporting documents included in the file of a legal entity

  • an alphabetically established list

A registration number (shown on the K bis) is given to each file based on the national identification number established by the INSEE[1].

The Greffier sends the BODACC [2] all registrations, as well as modifications and closures, for publication.  The Greffier also sends notice of all declarations, acts and annual accounts of commercial companies to the INPI[3] which centralises them in a national commercial register.

wb00882_.gif (970 octets) The register of sales representatives

The Greffe is also the CFE for sales representatives who are authorised agents working independently.  Whether the agents be a company, a legal entity or an individual businessperson, they are obliged to register in the “registre des agents commerciaux” held by the Greffe prior to starting their activity.

As the authorised depository of information which it certifies to be in accordance with the law, the Greffier thus has the task of assuring its distribution – which it accomplishes with the state-of-the-art technology required by the business world for rapid commercial transactions.

[1] INSEE:  Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques

[2] BODACC:  Bulletin Officiel des Annonces Commerciales

[3] INPI:  Insitut National de la Propriété Industrielle