To be able to practice and offer models, an agency must have a Model Agency Licence issued by the State.
These Licences are issued, among other things, after the head of the agency has provided a clean criminal record and the agency has provided a financial guarantee to cover the sums it owes to the models and to social organisations in the event of default. It is therefore what is known as a regulated profession. The State may at any time suspend or withdraw the Licence if the agency commits an offence or if the person in charge no longer presents the necessary character references.
If the agency also wishes to offer the services of minors under the age of 16, it must obtain, in addition to the Licence, a specific prefectoral approval which is only issued for one year, and after an enquiry by the DDASS and the opinion of a commission made up of, among others, a magistrate of the juvenile court, a health inspector and the inspector of the relevant school district.
Beware of pseudo-agencies that are not able to show their licence, or so-called casting agencies that try to get you to sign "service contracts" in which you have to pay to appear on a website or have photos taken.
In a legal agency, you do not have to pay anything in advance. Either they are interested in your profile and advance all the costs, which they will only be able to deduct from your future income, or they are not interested in you and do not take you on.
Most agencies have an application section on their websites and also have "open call" days, i.e. days and times when they receive applicants without an appointment and give them an immediate response.
In France in 2020, there are 99 modelling agencies with a licence.