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Definitions

Principal activity (APE)

Legal category

Termination of a company

French Official Geographic Code

Creation of a company

Company

Establishment

French classification of activities - NAF rev 2, 2008

Registered office

Siren

Sirene

Siret

Principal activity (APE)

As part of its responsibility to maintain the Sirene register, Insee assigns a principal activity code (APE) for statistical purposes to the company and to each of the companys establishments, based on the French Classification of Activities (NAF) as defined by decree.

The APE is determined separately for the company as a whole and for each establishment (based on a breakdown of the companys activities). This code consists of four digits and one letter, in line with the current classification scheme. It is assigned for statistical purposes and is only one element that is used when appraising a regulation or contract.

Legal category

The legal category describes the legal status of the company. For corporate bodies it is determined from the declaration completed when the company is created. For public bodies, the legal category is determined from the regulatory text produced when it was created.

The interadministrative nomenclature of legal categories acts as a common reference for all administrations, bodies associated with the Sirene register and with procedures at centres for business formalities.

It is organised into three successive levels:  aggregated, intermediate and detailed

In the Sirene® database, legal nature corresponds only to the legal category for corporate bodies.

Termination of a company

The cessation of a company is taken in the broadest sense to mean companies that cease their activity and cease to exist legally. The cessation of a company represents the end of the life of a legal entity. In every case, in a company that ceases to exist, all its establishments will close.

The Siren identifier is associated with the legal existence of the company and dies with the company. To balance legal requirements and economic realities, there are two categories of cessations: 

  • legal cessation of the company:  a company ceases to exist after dissolution in the case of a corporate body, and on death or when all activity ceases in the case of a self-employed worker; 
  • cessation of activity by the company:  the companys activities cease. This is also described as economic cessation when all the compnays establishments have closed

French Official Geographic Code

The Official Geographic Code contains all the codes and the names of municipalities, cantons, districts, departments, regions, overseas authorities, foreign countries and territories.

Creation of a company

The creation of a company is the creation of a new legal entity, and a new Siren number is attributed. The creation of a company is always associated with the creation of at least one economically active establishment.

A company is created when: 

  • there is a new registration in the Sirene register. The means of production associated with the creation of a company may be created and are therefore truly new; 
  • a company is economically reactivated. The means of production associated with the creation of a company may be reactivated, i.e. operations start up again after activity had ceased.

Company

A company is a legally autonomous economic unit organised to produce goods or services for the market.

There are two main categories (or families): 

  • individual company, which has no legal personality distinct from that of the person running it (trader, craftsperson, professions); 
  • what is called a corporate body:  public limited company (SA), limited liability company (SARL).

Establishment

An establishment is a unit of operation or production in a specific geogaphic location, individual but legally dependent on a company. This is the place where the activity is actually carried out (shop, workshop, etc.).

French classification of activities - NAF rev 2, 2008

The principal activity (APE) of companies and establishments in the Sirene register is coded according to the French classification of activities (NAF), a national adaptation of the European Community nomenclature of economic activities (NACE).

The new version (rev. 2, 2008) is the latest national statistical nomenclature, in force since 1st January 2008. It includes all the levels in the European nomenclature and adds a national level to take account specifically of French features and habits (four digits and one letter).

Registered office

A registered office is an establishment that has the status of main establishment. This is the place where the administration and the real running of the company are centralised. A registered office is defined only for corporate bodies. In this case, each company has only one establishment that is the registered office. For a company with only one establishment, then this is also the registered office.

Siren

Nine-digit identifying number assigned by Insee to all natural persons or corporate bodies recorded in the register of companies and establishments.

Sirene

Computer system for the register of companies and their establishments from which Insee creates the Sirene® database.

Siret

The Siret number is a unique identification number attributed to each establishment by Insee. It is simply a sequential number, made up of 14 non-significant digits:  the first nine digits correspond to the Siren number of the company on which the establishment depends and the last five to an internal classification number (NIC).

A company is made up of as many establishments as there are different places where it carries out its activities. The establishment closes when activity ceases in the establishment concerned or when it has a change of address.