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What is a SIRET number and why is it crucial when hiring French tradesmen?

There is one all-important number that is essential for anyone who is hiring tradesmen to renovate their home in France to know about and understand. Here's all you need to know about the SIRET number.

What is a SIRET number and why is it crucial when hiring French tradesmen?

What is a SIRET number?

The SIRET is basically a business registration number that allows you to check that a person is registered in their trade.

It shows that the person's business is registered with the Chambre de Commerce (RCS) for trade or Chambre de Metiers for crafts and manual work. There are also SIRET numbers for translators and people in similar lines of work although these probably won't be much use to you when it comes to your property renovations. 

A SIRET is 14 digits long and so might look something like this: 362 521 879 00034.

The first nine numbers are the company's unique French business identification number, known as a SIREN.

One business may have several SIRET numbers depending on how many different trades they are registered for but it will only have one SIREN number. 


Living in France: How to avoid being conned by rogue tradesmenPhoto: AFP

What the SIRET doesn't tell you

Unfortunately it isn't enough to simply check someone has a SIRET number, you also need to make sure that they are registered for the kind of work you need them to carry out. 

If people are going through difficult times, they may be inclined to put themselves up for work they are not strictly qualified to do, so be sure to check so that you don't end up employing someone registered as a plumber to do electrical works.

How can I check whether tradespeople are registered for the right job?

If you go to the website of your local Chamber of Commerce or Chambre de Metiers you can enter the first nine digits of the SIRET number (which is actually the SIREN number of the business) and check what they are registered to do. 

“You'll hear some of them say 'I'm siretted', but what does that mean,” says Artisan Central's Wilkins. “It's no use them having a Siret number for being a translator, if they are a builder.”
If you'd rather do it over the phone, there's no harm in calling the organisations with the business and name of the person you are about to employ and asking them if they are registered and whether they have any information on them, good or bad.
Alternatively, you may be able to get hold of a list of registered tradespeople at your local mairie. 
But remember that just because a person is registered does not mean they are bonafide and there are still some precautions you should take when it comes to renovating in France.

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For members


French police launch new service to keep empty homes secure

Leaving your property empty puts it at risk of burglars or squatters and this is a particular worry for second-home owners, whose homes are often vacant for prolonged periods.

French police launch new service to keep empty homes secure

French police run a scheme called Opération Tranquillité Vacances which involves householders telling their local police that they will be away, so they can keep an eye on the property.

The scheme has run in various forms since 1974, but now an online platform has been set up allowing property owners to make their declaration in just a few clicks.

It’s largely targeted at French people who are going away over the summer and leaving their homes empty, but it’s not limited to French nationals and can be used all year around.

Under the scheme, householders and businesses can ask their local gendarmes to keep a watch over their properties while they are away for a period of up to three months.

READ ALSO How to get rid of squatters from your French property

Police and gendarmes patrols visit houses on their list at various times during the day or night, checking shutters, gates, and back gardens to make sure all is as it should be – and to act as a deterrent to any criminal groups checking the area.

The new online service is not limited to French nationals or French residents, but it does require a FranceConnect account to operate, meaning that you need to be registered in at least one French database (eg the tax office, benefits office or in the health system).

The form can be used to cover both main residences and second homes (résidence secondaire) but there is a limit of three months at a time for the property to be vacant.

You can find the form HERE and it can be completed between three and 45 days before your departure.

You can also register in person at your nearest police station or gendarmerie unit. Take ID and proof of address, such as a recent utility bill, if you do it this way.

Summertime is high-season for criminals in France, who target homes that have been left vacant while their owners are away on holiday.

Opération Tranquillité Vacances was introduced in 1974 as a means to keep crime rates down during the summer holiday period. It was extended to include other school holidays in 2009, and is now available all year round.