Creating an Association in France

Associations under the law

Office Address France, Association France

An "association under law 1901" is placed under the regime of this law. It must meet several conditions :

Pursuant to the principle of freedom of association, an association may be formed freely, without control of the administration; it may be recognized by the State following a declaration procedure.

1. Undeclared associations

If an association is not declared, it is a association of fact, i. e. it does not exist as a legal person and all its assets, as well as its means of operation, are the collective property of all members.

A de facto association may collect dues, but it cannot receive public subsidies. It can open a postal or bank check account. The representatives of this de facto association to the banking institutions will be individuals.

2. Associations declared

In order to have legal capacity, i. e., for example, to apply for subsidies, to support a legal action, to buy or sell on its behalf, an association must be declared. To obtain declared association status, any association must :

Please note : in Alsace-Moselle, the creation of an association does not fall under the 1901 law, but under the provisions of the local civil code. The district court is competent to receive the application for registration; it must be published in a newspaper of legal announcements.

A declared association 1 has its own "personality ", distinct from that of its members; it may, in particular, as specified in Article 6 of the the law of 1 July 1901 :

It can also own and administer :

3. Association: the statutes

Statutes are mandatory for registered associations. Their content is completely free. They are subject to the law of contracts and obligations, i. e. to the Civil Code.

All changes in the administration of the association, as well as all changes to its statutes, must be declared to the prefecture within 3 months. They must also be recorded in a special register. This register shall be made available to the administrative or judicial authorities whenever they so request.

Any change can be published in the Official Journal, but it is not mandatory.

4. Association: constitution of civil party

An association may form a civil party :

In many cases, in order for an action to be admissible, the association must prove that it has received the victim's consent or, if the victim is a minor or a protected adult, the consent of the holder of parental authority or legal representative.

Some associations may be sued, as long as their subject matter falls within the scope of the law. These may include associations that :

Other cases of associations that may constitute civil party :

At last are concerned the departmental associations of mayors regularly declared and affiliated with the Association des maires de France, for the proceedings brought by elected representatives who are victims of offences in the course of their duties, as well as associations defending the moral and material interests of tenants, owners and lessors of apartment buildings in the event of deliberate attacks on the integrity of the person or of destruction or degradation committed in a building forming part of the associative object.

5. Association : criminal liability

As legal persons, associations are criminally liable for the offences committed:

Since 1 July 2006, associations can be prosecuted for all types of offences.

Associations that are found criminally responsible for a crime or misdemeanour are liable to fines, but also to other penalties, in particular :

Reference texts :

Penal Code: articles 121-2 to 121-7

Penal Code: articles 131-37 to 131-39-1


  1. There is another category of associations provided for by Law 1901: the association recognized as "of public utility" (art. 10). Associations applying for public utility recognition must have previously completed the formalities imposed on registered associations. This recognition is granted in the form of a decree issued by the Ministry of the Interior after consultation with the Council of State. The association must have been in operation for three years and have compiled a file containing a certain number of documents. It must follow standard statutes imposed by the Council of State. The main advantage of this recognition is the ability to receive donations and bequests after authorization.

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