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Recovering your debt in France is easiest this way.
Debitura specializes in debt recovery services in France, offering a wide variety of solutions including accounts receivables management, debt collection notices, pre-legal and legal debt collection, and enforcement court proceedings. Our team of experienced professionals possess extensive knowledge of France's debt collection laws and regulations, providing efficient and effective solutions to help businesses recover outstanding debts.
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The ultimate guide about debt collection in France
If you have money that you are owed from a business or customer in France, you have come to the right place! We have helped many other businesses get their money back from people who owe them.
It can be hard to collect a debt in France. Things like different languages, laws, and customs make it difficult. And if the person you owe money to lives far away, it can be even harder.
If you use a collection agency that knows the laws and customs of the country where the person who owes you money lives, it will be easier to get your money back.
At Debitura, we prioritize people. We do everything we can to get your money back while still maintaining a good relationship with the customer. Our PR efforts are fair and firm- making sure your reputation is our number one priority! If you want to learn more about how to collect debt in France, keep reading this guide. If you would rather work with a law firm that specializes in this, we can help you with that too.
We provide an easy way to collect your debt in France and other countries. Get started today by uploading your claim. Within 24 hours, we will assess your case and provide you with 3 free quotes from local debt collection lawyers in France. We use both people and technology to get the results we need. This includes maintaining customer relationships. In addition, we have a network of debt collectors, attorneys, suppliers and vendors that we work with. We value all of these relationships equally.
Begin collecting your debt in France immediately by creating a free profile and uploading your case in just two minutes. It's that simple and efficient.
Our proven pre-legal recovery process will be employed for the initial 3 months to collect your claim, with a guaranteed no-cure-no-pay policy.
If your debt remains unpaid during the initial phase, we offer you three quotes from our nearby debt collection attorneys.
You get access to our online portal where you can track your case in real-time
Introduction to collecting debt in France
Do you have a hard time getting paid by your French customers? Do not worry; we make it easy for you to collect debt in France.
In France, the person who owes money is called "the debtor." The person who gave them the money or bill is called "the creditor." If the creditor collects the debt themselves, this is called "first-party collection." If the creditor gives the job of collecting to someone else, this is called "third-party collections."
- The payment behaviour of domestic companies is good but there is some room for improvement. The average DSO does not match the standards set forth in the regulations stringently transposing EU payment standards into domestic law.
- French courts are good at solving disputes quickly. But once the debtor is declared insolvent, it becomes very hard to force them to pay a debt. This is because French law protects the debtor as long as insolvency proceedings have not ended.
Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)
The law from 2012 that made it easier for people to understand the law and made it so there were not as many steps to do things became active on January 1st, 2013.
This law says that businesses have to pay for the goods or services they receive within 30 days. But if the businesses have a contract that says differently, they can wait up to 60 days to pay.
In 2016, on average, payments for listed companies happened within 70 days. This number has been going down over the past few years. In some places where France has control, the French law applies most of the time. But there are some differences with tax laws.
Common payment types in France
The most common payment methods for buying a home are cash, a mortgage, or a combination of the two.
- Sepa bank transfers are used more and more. They are a good way to send money because they are fast and secure. You can use them for domestic and international payments.
- If someone doesn't pay you with a check, you can ask for the money that you are owed. After two times of not getting paid, the person who owes you money may have to give you a certificate that says they owe you money.
- Bills of exchange are a type of payment that is not as common as it used to be, but it is still a good option for businesses because it is a way to get short-term financing. This means that you can get money now and pay for it later. Bills of exchange are especially good for payments that are made in installments.
Main corporate structures
Business debts are the responsibility of the business, not the people who own it. The legal structure of the business determines who is responsible for the debts.
- Most businesses are now run by one person, who is responsible for all the debts of the business. This person is called a sole proprietor. In some cases, businesses may be incorporated, which means that the owner is only responsible for part of the debts.
- Partnerships (Société de Personnes) are started by at least two partners. They both agree to be responsible for the company's debts. But sometimes people only want to be responsible for a part of the company. This is called a Limited Partnership. In this type of partnership, there is one or more managing partners who agrees to be responsible for the company's operations and debts together with silent partners who are only liable for their capital contribution.
- A Limited Liability Company is a company where the people running it are not responsible for the company's debts. Up to fifty people can own the company, and they can only be held responsible for the company's debts if they have put money into the company. This type of company is popular for businesses that are medium-sized.
- Public Limited Companies (Société Anonyme, SA) are the most common structures for larger businesses because it allows more people to own a part of the company. These are also available in simplified (Société par Action Simplifiée, SAS) and individual (Société par Action Simplifiée Unipersonnelle, SASU) formats.
The debt collection process in France
In France, debt collectors usually follow a few steps. The steps are shown in the picture.
1 Upload your claim:
If you want to get your money back from someone who owes you, you can find a company to help you. You give the company some information about the person who owes you, and then they try to get the money for you. If you use Debitura, we will give you 3 different quotes from local companies in Europe who can help you. This service is free - there is no catch.
2 Amicable collection:
The collection process typically begins with sending "friendly reminders" to the person who owes you money, via email, SMS, letter, or any other available communication channels in that country. The goal is to get them to pay the debt or at least acknowledge it, and then start a payment plan. Debitura offers a "no-cure-no-pay solution" for amicable collection cases, which means you only have to pay a small success fee if we actually recover your debt. Therefore, amicable collections with Debitura are 100% risk-free!
If the person you are owed money from has not paid you after you have talked to them, it is time to look at what to do next. We will look at how much money you are owed, the chance of getting paid, and other factors to help you decide what to do. There are three typical next steps:
If your claim is below 2.000-5000€, it is not worth it to take more legal actions. In this case, we recommend "debt surveillance", where we will keep trying to reach your debtor and try to negotiate a friendly agreement.
B: Legal collections:
If you have a big issue that you want to take to court, it is suggested to start a legal process. This process can differ depending on what you want to claim and how big of an issue it is. On average, it usually takes around 12-18 months to complete this process.
C: Debt enforcement:
If the person you are claiming money from has acknowledged your claim or if you have a court order, you can use the bailiff's court to get the money from them.
At Debitura, we can help you with all three steps of the process in France.
Amicable collection in France
At Debitura, we offer a 100% risk-free and efficient process for Amicable collections. This means that you can submit your claim to us, and we will get started on it within 24 hours.
We will try to reach your debtor in France through different ways, such as email, text messages, letters, phone calls, and social media.
The goal of this process is to either:
A) get the debtor to pay the full amount
B) get the debtor to agree that they owe money and start a plan to pay it back
If the person you are trying to get money from has said that they do not owe you money, you cannot try to resolve this peacefully. You must go straight to legal collections.
Late Payment Interest
If you don't pay on time, the company you owe money to can charge you interest. They have to tell you how much interest they will charge before you agree to anything. If they don't, the government says they can only charge what the European Central Bank charges, which changes every six months. If the company doesn't follow this rule, they might get in trouble with the law and have to pay a fine.
In practice, we collect interest and negotiate payment plans during the amicable phase. If the debtor pays the debt without a plan, then it is difficult to get them to pay interest. During the legal phase, we ask the court for permission to charge interest and any other contractual penalties. French law allows courts to postpone or spread out payments over two years for people who cannot afford to pay all at once.
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amicable debt collection
Upload your claim and get started with our 100% no-cure-no-pay collection solution.
Legal collection in France
If you have not been paid during the amicable phase or the debtor disputes your claim, we will provide you with 3 free quotes from our local debt collection attorneys. In the legal phase, our local attorney will reach out to your debtor and try to negotiate a payment. Our partners can also go to court and get a payment order via the legal system in France. This payment order can then be used to enforce your claim via enforcement court.
There are different types of proceedings available. If the debt is not a lot of money and there is no disagreement about it, you can first try to get a Payment Order from the Commerce Court. These proceedings are fast and cheap (less than EUR 75, not including bailiffs’ fees), and you do not need to go to court or have a lawyer. The judge may then give a formal Payment Order. The person who owes the money must be told about this decision within six months. They have one month to say they do not agree with it. If they do not say anything, the Payment Order may usually be enforced directly with a bailiff.
If you have a lot of debt that you dispute, you can use 'référé' fast-track proceedings to get a judgment quickly. This means that even though part of the dispute is not settled, the judge's decision can be enforced right away.
For cases that are disputed or complex, we use something called ordinary proceedings. This is when someone starts a lawsuit by giving the person they are suing (the defendant) a summons through a bailiff. Then, the court looks at the claim to see if it is valid (receivable). After that, the court hears from both sides and then makes a decision. If the defendant does not say anything to defend themselves, the court can make a decision based on just the claimant's arguments.
If the debt is not disputed, the courts can issue European Payment Orders that are effective in all European Union countries (except Denmark) without exequatur proceedings (Regulation 1896/2006/EC).
The Commercial Courts are responsible for solving business disputes. These courts have judges who were not professionally trained, but were elected by their peers. This system is effective because decisions are made in a reasonable amount of time.
The amount of money you will need to pay a lawyer depends on how difficult your case is and how big your claim is. To get the best price, it is a good idea to ask more than one lawyer for their estimate. You can do this easily by using Debitura.
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legal debt collection
Upload your claim and get 3 FREE quotes from our local collection partners.
Debt enforcement in France
If you have written proof that the person you are asking for money owes you money, or if a court has said they owe you money, you can go to the bailiff's court in France to get your money.
If the court's decision is not temporarily enforceable, enforcement may begin once a judgment is final (for example, if no appeal is filed within one month). Enforcement must occur within ten years of notification of the court's decision.
If the person who lost the case does not pay what they owe, the winning person can ask for help from the government. The government will make the losing person pay by taking their money from their bank account or getting paid from someone who owes them money. If the losing person needs to do something or stop doing something, they will usually have to pay a fine.
The process and how much it costs vary depending on your situation. You can upload your case to Debitura. They will give you 3 quotes within 24 hours.
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Upload your claim and get 3 FREE quotes from our local collection partners.
European Late Payment Directive in France
France is a part of the European Union, so the laws that are in place to stop late payments in commercial transactions across Europe apply to France as well.
The directive includes the following:
- Public authorities cannot require payment terms of more than 30 days.
- Private enterprises cannot require payment terms that are longer than 60 days.
- If the person who owes you money is a business, you can charge them an extra fee of €40 for paying late.
- The interest rates for late payments must be at least 8% above the European Central Banks reference rate.
The Danish government cannot make any rules that would be less favorable for creditors than the EEU-wide rules.
Credit risk and payment behaviour in France
- French businesses are cautious about using trade credit, both domestically and abroad.
- The average payment term for domestic B2B customers is 35 days from the invoice date.
- For foreign B2B customers, the average payment term is 34 days.
- Two-fifths of the total value of B2B sales on credit in France remained unpaid after the due date.
- On average, French respondents receive domestic and foreign payments 57 days after invoicing.
- Most of the respondents in France said that domestic B2B customers delay invoice payment due to liquidity constraints.
- An average of 0.9% of B2B receivables was written off as uncollectable in France.
Our analysis concludes that the risk of doing business in France is low. Based on this low score, You can feel reasonably confident that you will be able to get paid when trading with customers in France. Nonetheless, we always recommend doing a specific credit analysis on an individual customer basis before offering any credit. The low risk score is based on the following factors:
The economic risk in France
Economic risk in France is very low (1 out of 6). An economic risk of 1 out of 6 is low in Europe.
GDP and economic growth are critical drivers for economic risk.
The GDP of France is 2937,47 bn. USD (2021), growing by 6,96% per year.
In terms of the size of its economy, France ranks #8 out of 183 countries and has a large economy.
Looking at the growth rate, it is ranked #47 out of 183 countries and is therefore considered a fast-growing economy.
GDP per capita is 43519 USD, ranking France number #24 out of 183 countries. This means the purchasing power of citizens in France is high compared to the rest of the world.
You get a more detailed idea of GDP and economic growth in France in the table below:
Another significant influencer for the economic risk score is the inflation rate and the interest rates. You get a more detailed idea of monetary KPIs in France in the table below:
The inflation in France was 1,6% in 2021 which is considered a very low inflation rate.
The business environment risk in France
Our analysis shows that the business environment risk in France is very low (1 out of 6), which is a relatively low risk score in Europe.
The business environment risk are determined by the level of economic freedom and rights in a country. You can see the critical facts for France in the table below:
As you can see in the table, the property rights index is 82 in France, which is considered quite good in Europe.
The business freedom index is based on 10 indicators, using data from the World Bank’s Doing Business study. The Index is 80 in France, a quite good score for a country in Europe.
France's overall economic freedom index is 66 out of 100 and is based on factors such as the rule of law, regulatory efficiency, and market openness.
The political risk in France
The political risk in France is very low, with a score of 1/6. This is a low political risk score in Europe.
The governance and political stability indicators are vital drivers for political risk. An overview of France can be seen in the graphs below:
The rule of law index analyses to which extent agents have confidence in and abide by the rules of society, in particular the quality of contract enforcement, property rights, the quality of the courts, and the police's ability to enforce court orders.
When transacting business in a country, the rule of law index is critical as it describes your ability to enforce commercial contracts.
In France, the rule of law index is at 1,29 points, with the score going from -2.5 (weak) to 2.5 (strong). France has, therefore, a very high rule of law index, which means you have a very good chance of enforcing your contracts. If your individual customers have good creditworthiness, you should therefore feel relatively safe when providing credit.
Other drivers for the very low political risks are the strong control of corruption, the weak political stability index, and the normal shadow economy that is 11,65% of France's GDP.
The commercial risk in France
In France, the commercial risk score is 3/4, which in our model is a medium score. This medium commercial risk score is pretty average compared to the average in Europe.
The commercial risk is influenced by a country's international trade relationships. You can see some of the key facts for France in the table below:
France has a foreign exchange reserve of 244.28 bn. USD.
France has a negative trade balance of -2,07% of GDP. What this means is that France imports more goods and services than the country exports.
The annual growth of exports of goods and services has been growing 9,31% annually - now 29,95% of GDP. Import of goods and services represents 32,02% of the GDP in France.
The financing risk in France
We have calculated the financing risk to be 1/4, which equals a very low risk. A very low financing risk score is relatively low for countries in Europe.
The country's banking system, efficiency, and stability influence the financing risk. Additional facts and info can be found for France in the table below:
In France, the credit information sharing index is 6 on a scale from 0 (low) to 8 (high). This means the accessibility and quality of credit information available in France is medium.
This makes it easy for you to understand the credit risk of your counterpart in France. You should therefore be able to find a good local credit rating agency that can help you analyse the creditworthiness of your specific customers.
Your legal rights as a creditor (and as a borrower) are 4 out of 12 and, therefore, very weak.
Debt Collection in France: Frequently Asked Questions
If you are having trouble getting paid by a French customer, you can use first-party collection or third-party collection to collect debt. In France, businesses must pay for goods and services within 30 days, but can wait up to 60 days if agreed upon. The debt collection process in France usually begins with friendly reminders to the debtor and may progress to legal action or debt enforcement. Debitura can help you with all three steps of the process in France.
The debt collection process in France usually involves three steps: pre-legal collection, legal debt collection, and debt enforcement. Pre-legal collection involves friendly reminders to the debtor to pay the debt or start a payment plan. Legal debt collection is an option for larger issues and can take around 12-18 months. Debt enforcement can be used when the debtor acknowledges the claim or when a court order is obtained. Debitura can assist with all three steps of the debt collection process in France.
In France, legal options for debt collection include civil lawsuits, debt enforcement, and insolvency proceedings. For disputed debts, a civil lawsuit is required. Legal actions need a local lawyer. Payment orders can be obtained via fast-track or ordinary proceedings. Commercial Courts are responsible for business disputes. European Payment Orders can be issued for non-disputed debts effective in all EU countries without exequatur proceedings. Lawyer fees depend on the case's complexity and claim size. Debitura can help you get free quotes from local debt collection attorneys.
The cost of debt collection in France varies depending on the case. However, at Debitura, we offer a no-cure-no-pay model for pre-legal collection with a success fee between 10-20%. Legal actions costs varies, but we can provide you with 3 quotes from the best debt collection lawyers in France.
The duration of debt collection in France depends on the debtor and the case. If the case is resolved in the pre-legal phase, the process typically lasts 3-6 months. However, if legal action is required, it may take 12-18 months to collect the debt.