Buying through a company (SCI)

Buying a property in France through a French non-trading property company (Societe Civile Immobiliere or SCI) can be beneficial. The principal advantages of an SCI are that its shares can be simply transferred to new owners and after the company has been established for three years, stamp duty is lower than it is on direct transfers of property.

On the death of an owner, shares in an SCI are treated as movable assets and can be bequeathed in accordance with the laws of the owner's place of domicile, thus avoiding the restrictions of French succession law.

If you plan to buy a property through an SCI, this should be done at the outset and all advantages and disadvantages must be considered in advance.
One concern for example is that the British tax authorities consider that a taxpayer who owns shares in an SCI may be deemed to be an employee of the company and therefore receiving a taxable benefit in kind for the use of the property.

Please ask your notaire and your local tax authority for advice about this.