Cultural Association

Verified 27 December 2021 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

The purpose of a religious association is to ensure the public exercise of religious worship. It is subject not only to the rules applicable to associations (Law 1901), but also to specific provisions (in particular as regards creation, modification, declaration of cultural status). The latter are also applicable in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion, Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin.

Cultural Association

An association is considered to be a cultural one if it meets the following conditions:

1. The sole purpose of public worship

2. The following activities shall be carried out:

  • Celebration of ceremonies organized for the performance of certain rites or practices by persons of the same religious belief
  • Acquisition, rental, construction, fitting-out and maintenance of buildings used for worship
  • Maintenance and training of ministers and other persons involved in worship

3. Its activities (ceremonies, processions and other external events) shall be carried out in accordance with public order and fundamental freedoms (i.e. essential and protected).


a local law of worship is in force Alsace-Moselle, French Guiana, Mayotte and Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna Islands, French Polynesia and New Caledonia.

Cultural associations benefit from the following:

  • Possibility of receiving donations and bequests (donations decided upon during a person's lifetime and which will take place following his death)
  • Property Tax Exemption on Built Property

Other association for religious purposes

The practice of a cult may also be ensured by associations which do not have as their exclusive object this activity. For example, they may have the following other objects:

  • Moral and material assistance to the poor
  • Promotion of the spiritual, educational, social and cultural life of a community
  • Study of a religion

On the other hand, these associations cannot benefit from the advantages accorded to religious associations.

Religious Congregation

A congregation is an association of faithful or priests subject to a particular legal regime.

Members of a congregation express vows indicating their willingness to do the following:

  • Submit to religious authority
  • Constrain yourself to the actual practice of vows
  • Participate in the activities of the congregation in exchange for taking care of all their needs (housing, food, ...)

When they are created, cultural associations are subject to the ordinary reporting requirements except for 2 differences.

The prior declaration duty be accompanied by the following 2 documents:

  • List of places where public worship is usually organized
  • List with a minimum number of 7 members who are of age and who are domiciled or resident in the religious district defined by the statutes

During their developments (changes in their administration, amendments to their statutes, dissolution, etc.), religious associations are subject to the obligations of ordinary declaration.

In addition to these changes, the cultural association must make a supplementary declaration, within 3 months, where it is in one of the following situations:

  • Sale or disposal of all movable property and buildings (attributed to the association)
  • Changes to the list of places where public worship is normally held

If after resignation, death or any other reason, the number of members falls below the minimum number required, the association must also declare in the 3 months the new list of members.

Any supplementary declaration shall be made in the same form as the initial declaration.

In order to benefit from the advantages of a faith-based association, the association must make a other declaration to the prefecture. of the department or to the sub-prefecture of the arrondissement where the association has its headquarters.

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The declaration duty be accompanied by the following:

  • Statutes of the association
  • Name, first name(s), occupation, domicile and nationality of the persons responsible for its administration
  • Estimated budget for the current year
  • Annual accounts for the last three financial years ended or, if the association has been established for less than three years, the accounts for the financial years ended since its creation
  • Justification(s) to establish that the association meets the conditions required to be classified as a cultural association
  • List of places where public worship is usually organized
  • For unions, list of member associations

The prefect acknowledges receipt of the request.

The declaration shall take effect from the date of receipt and for a period of 5 years, unless the Prefect decides to oppose or withdraw.

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The prefect is planning to make use of the right of opposition 

If the prefect considers that the association does not meet all the conditions, he can oppose his request.

In this case, he must send him a registered letter, with notice of receipt informing him of the possibility to submit his observations within a period of 1 month.

2 hypotheses are possible:

  • The prefect confirms his opposition and sends a rejection decision. The association shall be informed by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.
  • The prefect did not respond to the association's comments. After 1 month, the association may consider that its request has received a positive response.

The Prefect is considering withdrawing the status of cultural association 

It shall inform the association by registered letter with notice of receipt.

The association has a period of1 month to make its comments.

If she does not, the prefect again has a period of 1 month to confirm his decision.

In any case, no response from administration within 2 months following the acknowledgement of receipt sent to the association, it may consider that its request is accepted.

She can then ask the prefect to issue her with a document certifying that she meets the conditions required to be classified as a cultural association.

The association duty apply for renewal after 5 years, under the same conditions as the initial declaration.

If the request for renewal is made less than 6 months after the end of the five-year period, the association does not have to provide all the documents requested at the time of its first request.

If it has filed its accounts, the association does not have to submit its accounts for the last 3 fiscal years for the renewal of its return.

The financial management and property administration acts performed by the managers must be approved each year by the general assembly of the members of the association.

The association must draw up an annual inventory of its movable and immovable property.

Cultural associations are subject to financial control by the tax authorities.

The association is obliged to have its accounts audited when it receives benefits or funds from foreigner countries (State, legal person or natural person) in excess of €50,000.

It may be money or real or movable property given to it.

Religious associations may receive:

  • Contributions by their members
  • Manual donations, donations and bequests
  • Proceeds from quests and collections for the costs of worship
  • Remuneration (for ceremonies and religious services, rental of benches and seats, supply of objects at funerals, decoration of buildings)

They cannot receive a public subsidy.

However, the State and local and regional authorities may grant them financial aid for the repair of cultural buildings, whether or not they are classified as historic monuments.

The only work involved is the work necessary to preserve the buildings (keeping them out of water, making the building safe, etc.).

Municipalities and departments may, under certain conditions, guarantee loans taken to finance the construction of religious buildings by religious associations.

These communities may authorize a religious association that wishes to construct a religious building to occupy land owned by them as part of a emphyteotic lease.

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