REALWorld Law


Licences and permits

What official permissions, licences or consents are required by a building or engineering contractor before it can start work?



The erection of a building requires a building permit. The building permit is usually applied for by the owner or by the developer. It is very rare for a building permit to be issued to a contractor.

Under French law, it is a criminal offence to erect a building without a building permit. When the works are completed, the owner has the obligation to file a declaration of completion and compliance of the works with the administrative authorities. Upon receiving this declaration, the administrative authorities have three to five months (depending on the project or its location) to verify if the works are compliant with the building permit. After this time period, the owner can request a certificate from the authorities of non-opposition to the compliance of the works. A modification to a building permit may be applied for if discrepancies arise between the actual building and the building permit. 

A building permit can be challenged by third parties. From 1 October 2007, any such challenge must be lodged within two months from the first day the building permit is displayed on the site (the building permit must be posted on the site continuously during the relevant challenge period). Usually, the works start only when the beneficiary is certain that the building permit is final (ie the challenge period has passed).

Other planning or administrative authorizations may be required depending on the use of the building to be erected. For example, the erection of a building for retail use requires a specific retail authorization and the erection of a warehouse or facility may require an authorization for a classified installation for environmental protection (installations classées pour la protection de l'environnement).