Registration in the SIRENE register is compulsory for associations only if they intend to hire employees, if they are subject to VAT, or if they receive subsidies from the State or local authorities. Outside these three situations, however, it is strongly recommended. In any case, if an association wishes to register with the Prefecture, which is always preferable, it will automatically be entered in the National Directory of Associations (RNA). The RNA lists all associations governed by the 1901 law, as well as associations recognized as being of public utility (ARUP) in France. The association receives an RNA number or a file number consisting of the letter W and 9 digits. Why then, if an association does not meet one of the above conditions, should it also apply for a SIRET (Système d'identification du répertoire des établissements) number? What are the reasons for this?
Why do associations need SIREN and SIRET numbers?
While the RNA number is automatically assigned on creation, SIREN and SIRET numbers should be requested from URSSAF for associations with employees, from the commercial court clerk's office for those with an economic activity subject to VAT, or from Le Compte Asso, the official association management website for subsidized associations.
Since January 1, 2023, the guichet unique has become the essential digital tool for carrying out all procedures relating to the creation, modification or cessation of businesses. In the future, the government plans to extend its use to associations.
What are SIREN and SIRET numbers?
The SIRENE register, managed by INSEE (the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies), contains information on all companies and associations operating in France. Registration in this register is compulsory, and free of charge for certain associations.
INSEE assigns a 9-digit number called SIREN, followed by a SIRET number for each establishment. The 14-digit SIRET number is the same as the SIREN number, plus 5 digits specific to each place of business. The identifier is assigned to the association only once, at the time of registration, and is deleted only if the association is dissolved. In the event of relocation, only the SIRET number is changed.
INSEE also provides an APE code designating the company's main activity.
The information contained in the SIRENE register is accessible to all, with the exception of information on the association's representatives, which remains confidential.
How do I register an association?
The steps involved in setting up an association are simpler than for a company. Article 2 of the 1901 law on associations clearly states that "associations of persons may be freely formed without prior authorization or declaration". However, for an association to be able to accept donations and collect membership fees, it must at the very least be registered with the registry of associations in its département. The declaration is made using a specific Cerfa form.
For SIREN and SIRET numbers, the association must apply online, either to the relevant CFE (URSSAF and commercial court clerk's office), or to INSEE's Pôle SIRENE Association, enclosing the following supporting documents:
- Receipt of declaration from the prefecture or extract from the Journal Officiel des associations,
- Copy of articles of association.
The application is sent to INSEE. A registration certificate is issued as soon as the file has been validated.
Any change in the name, address, purpose, activity, opening or closing of an establishment must be reported.
Why register an association in the SIRENE register?
Aside from the compulsory nature of registration for certain associations, registering offers greater development potential. In fact, having an SIREN number facilitates exchanges with the various parties involved. For a contract with a third party to be valid, for example, the presence of an SIREN or SIRET number is required. It is also required for invoicing purposes.
Even the smallest subsidy will not be granted without a SIREN number. Nor will the association be able to opt for the tax regime for non-profit associations, or obtain the status of social economy entrepreneur.
Thanks to its RNA number, the association still has legal personality. It can own personal assets and open a pro association account online.
The National Directory of Associations is managed by the Registrar of Associations. All associations must be listed in this directory, otherwise they would not be considered legal entities in their own right. As soon as the association's representatives have registered it with the prefecture, it is published in the JOAFE (official journal for associations and company foundations). Once these formalities have been completed, the association is recognized.
An association has a special legal status. It is not required to register with the RCS or RM. So registration is simplified and free of charge. Why not?