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Becoming a freelancer or self-employed worker in France

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

There are new regulations in place for sole proprietors and small firms, which make it simpler to begin working independently or as a freelancer in France.


If looking for work in France is not something you are interested in doing, a recent change in French policy has made it easier for non-French citizens to establish a small company in France.


The previous auto-entrepreneur and micro-enterprise systems have been merged into the new micro-enterprise regime, which means that it is now possible to launch a micro-business, be self-employed, or work on a freelance basis in France. Some self-employed individuals in France also have the option of working via a route salary or becoming members of a workers' cooperative.


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Becoming a French micro-enterprise


It is not at all difficult to get your company registered as a micro-enterprise and to have it up and running. The tax and accounting obligations have been streamlined, and you may pay your taxes as well as your social charges online. On the other hand, you are responsible for paying taxes and social charges on any expenditures that you invoice; hence, if you anticipate incurring significant costs of this kind, you should look into other company structures.


It is still too early to tell exactly what the new legislation, which is being referred to as the Loi Pinel, would include, but you should check back for any fresh developments.


The term "working as a micro-enterprise" (formerly known as "micro-enterprise" or "auto-entrepreneur") refers to a tax status rather than a legal corporate structure. An individual operating a business under the guise of a sole proprietorship is considered to be operating under the legal framework of an Entreprise Individuelle (EI). If you establish a EURL or SARL, you will be exempt from paying taxes under this scheme. Please refer to our guide on establishing a company in France for more details on the aforementioned organizational frameworks for companies.


Check out Expatica's guide on taxation when starting up a company in France to learn about the many types of taxes and fees that apply to sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations in France.



Under the new micro-enterprise rules, who is eligible to work?


If your company has a turnover that is less than the levels specified, you may be eligible to organize it as a micro-enterprise or an auto-entrepreneur. If your company includes the purchasing and subsequent resale of products or materials, the establishment of a restaurant or bar, or the provision of furnished lodging, the barrier is below €82,200. The threshold cannot be more than €32,900 per year if you are considered a 'professional' or if you are giving services (professions liberals). You are allowed to continue participating in the micro-enterprise plan so long as you do not surpass the criteria for two years. In such a case, you will be required to adopt the conventional organizational structure for businesses (see setting up a business in France). Once your annual revenue reaches the threshold set by the new legislation, you will be eligible for optional assistance that will assist you in determining whether or not it would be beneficial for you to switch to a different kind of company structure.


Certain kinds of commercial enterprises do not qualify for this category (e.g., estate agents, lawyers, finance companies, and those who receive royalties). Check with your local Chambres du Commerce et de l'Industrie (CCI) or Chambres de Métiers et de l'Artisanat (CMA).


French freelancer liability and insurance


Because you have an infinite obligation, you must file a declaration of invisibility. This will prevent your creditors from seizing your house and any other assets you own. There is also something called the EIRL plan, which combines the characteristics of a sole proprietorship with those of a limited liability company. Please visit www.eirl.fr for any more information.


In France, a kind of professional liability insurance known as assurance responsabilité professionnelle is obligatory for all firms. If you are employed in the construction industry, then you are required to purchase an assurance décennal, which is a guarantee that is valid for ten years, and you are required to provide information on the insurance on your invoices.


How to set up a freelancing account in France


There are three different methods by that you may register your company:


1. You may visit the relevant Centre de Formalités des Entreprises (CFE). Find the CFE that corresponds to the nature of your company's operations, since there is a variety of CFEs available for many kinds of commercial endeavors. Take, for instance:


If you wish to open a store or a commercial enterprise that does not include "craft, trades, or artisan" work, you must register with the Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie (CCI).


Chambre de Métiers et de l'Artisanat (CMA), for manual/trades and crafts persons.


URSSAF for those working in professions and intellectual services such as translating or designing websites


1. Simply click on this list to locate the CFE that is most appropriate for the kind of company that you run.


2. Deliver this form to the CFE that is most relevant to your situation.


3. Via the internet, here, by completing several forms located on the official website for independent contractors.


When you register, you are required to either email a photocopy of your ID or passport or upload a scan of it. You can also be asked to provide evidence that you are covered by professional insurance, such as the assurance décennale that is required of builders.


Using this form, you will need to register your business with the Répertoire des Métiers (RM) if it is a trade. Registration with the RM is required. Using this form, you are required to report your company to the Registre Spécial des Agents Commerciaux (RSAC) via the Greffe de tribunal de commerce if you want to engage in the sale of tangible commodities.


Mandatory business administration course


You are required to take a stage de préalable à l'installation training course (also known as SPI) from the Chambres de Métiers et de l'Artisanat if you want to start your own business as a tradesperson. This course will teach you about the various aspects of managing your own company. The course lasts for four or five days. Those who are starting up commercial and industrial firms have access to elective training programs that are similar to this one. This course comes at a cost; check with the local Chamber of Commerce for details.


Regulated businesses


Certain professions in France are subject to government oversight, including those of accountants, veterinarians, hairdressers, builders, and even wine merchants. Before you are allowed to begin working in your field of expertise if it is one of the regulated professions, you will be required to become registered with the appropriate organization and may be required to provide evidence that you have the necessary qualifications, experience, and insurance liability.


Check the APCE website to see whether the kind of company you wish to start up is subject to any regulations. Simply locate the letter of the alphabet that corresponds to the business sector that you are looking for and click on it.


SIREN, SIRET, and APE numbers


After you have completed the registration procedure and your declaration has been reviewed, you will be provided with a singular identifying SIREN number that consists of nine digits. This official business number is evidence that your firm has been registered, and it is the number that all official entities, including the government, will use whenever they refer to your business.


You will also be given a SIRET number, which is made up of a SIREN number and a five-digit number that specifies the location of your company's headquarters. This can be a helpful research tool if you want to learn more about your competitors. If you want to learn more about your competitors, you can enter their SIREN numbers into this website to find out when they started their business, how many employees they have, and, if they are a limited company, financial information such as their turnover, profit, and loss.


You will also get an APE number, which stands for "Activite Principale de l'Enterprise," or a NAF code, which will identify the primary activity of your company. These codes, which are made up of four numbers and a letter, are used by every single company in France.


Preparing freelance invoices (factures) in France


Estimates are called devices, while actual bills are called fractures. When you send out invoices in France, you are required to include the following information:


The date that appears on the invoice.


The date of the sale or the service.


a description of the product or service being sold


Pricing and any available savings


Completed amount.


Because you are unable to collect value-added tax (TVA), every invoice has to contain the phrase "TVA nonapplicable, article 293 B du CGI."


Client name and address.


Your company's name, as well as any pertinent information on your professional credentials.


SIREN number.


If you are a tradesperson, then please provide information on the required 10-year insurance (dates of validity, geographical area, insurer).


The statutory payment terms are thirty days after the delivery of the product or provision of the service.


Closing your business


If you no longer want to engage in business, all you need to do is fill out the form that can be found on this page of the official website for auto-entrepreneurs.


Freelance work through a portage salarial


It is possible to operate legally in France as a freelancer without registering as a company if one instead works via a portage salarial. This is one of the ways that this is feasible. In this model, you are required to enter into a contract with a portage business, often known as an umbrella company. This portage company will, in effect, become your employer and take care of the majority of the paperwork. You are still responsible for finding customers and negotiating payment arrangements on your own, but invoicing and payments (including paystubs) are handled separately by the portage business for which you work as an employee (salarié).


An umbrella firm, in its most basic form, acts as your employer for the period of your assignment, offers insurance coverage, and sends bills to either the end customer or the recruiting agency who found you the position. Your portage firm, in its capacity as your employer, is responsible for deducting social costs on your behalf. After that, they subtract their charge from your monthly income and pay you the remaining amount. The portage firm receives a charge equal to between 7 and 10 percent of your total monthly bills from you.


In contrast to a micro-enterprise, you could be able to write off a portion of each invoice as business expenditure if your operating costs are high enough.


Because you pay social costs, you are eligible for the same benefits regarding healthcare, unemployment, and retirement as any other employee working in France.


There are no predetermined working hours, and you are free to leave at any time. In most cases, social charges are only levied on those who have earned income. When there is a shortage of employment or when you take a break, you will temporarily cease being responsible for paying social expenses.


You must still pay your income tax (Impôt sur le Revenue) through a Déclaration de revenus pré-remplie form. This is something that the French tax officials deliver every spring. The income tax return, on the other hand, is often less comprehensive.


If you provide intellectual services such as writing, translating, telemarketing, business consulting, or information technology, then this system is appropriate for you.


The portage system is helpful for your customers or recruiting agency since it enables them to acquire your services without having to commit to the obligations of hiring personnel. This makes the portage system a useful tool. This provides you the option to work with customers in countries other than France.


Self-employed workers’ co-operative (SCOP)


Joining a workers' co-operative, also known as a société cooperative et participatory, is an additional choice available to freelancers as an alternative to establishing their own companies (SCOP). These operate in a manner quite similar to that of portage firms. When you sign a contract with the SCOP, they will handle your accounting, provide you with payslips, and pursue overdue payers on your behalf. You hand over around ten percent of your profits to the SCOP.


Useful resources


APCE is the French organization that helps new businesses get off the ground. It provides information on all elements of establishing a company in France, from analyzing the market to managing the company's expansion.


You may obtain information and assistance via the official site for sole traders and small firms in France, which can be found at www.lautoentrepreneur.fr. You can also register, make declarations, and pay online using this portal.


If you want in-depth information about the portage system, you should read Le Guide du Portage.


SCOP to get information on worker cooperatives.


Le syndicat des Professionnels de l'Emploi en Portage Salarial (PEPS) represents 90 percent of the portage salarial enterprises in France. Through their website, you will be able to locate a local portage firm.


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