Q: How do I Register as an Independent Contractor (Auto/Micro-Entrepreneur) in France?
Learn the basic steps of registering as an independent contractor (auto-entrepreneur/micro-entrepreneur) in France.
Here we break down the essential information and steps you’ll need to know to become an independent contractor (auto-entrepreneur/micro-entrepreneur) in France. Maybe you have dreams of becoming a writer, spending your days sipping wine and writing as you look over the glittery Paris skyline. Or perhaps you just need a quick and easy way to make money independently in France. Either way, you have come to the right place! The information here on becoming a micro-entrepreneur in France should not be used in place of legal or financial counsel.
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Self Employment in France
If you want to become a self-employed independent contractor in France, you need to register yourself appropriately. One option is “société pluripersonnelle” (if your business makes over €70,000 for sales of services or €170,000 for sales of goods) and the other option is “société unipersonnelle” which contains the classification we will be focusing on: micro-entrepreneur (previously known as auto-entrepreneur). In France, a micro-entrepreneur is not a legal business structure, but rather a tax status with practical and simple accounting rules.
There are some restrictions that come with being a micro-entrepreneur in France. First off, in addition to the limit on income amount, you cannot employ others (although working with your spouse is permitted). Secondly, since it’s only a tax status and not a work permit, you do need permission to work in France before applying. Lastly, certain businesses cannot work as micro-entrepreneurs (e.g., construction or activities that require investment). See a list of what businesses are suitable for micro-entrepreneurs in France (or not) here.
Benefits of Becoming a Micro-Entrepreneur in France
There are lots of benefits to becoming a micro-entrepreneur in France. Aside from the fact that it is probably the easiest way to create your own business in France (paperwork-wise), it is great for freelancing while setting your own hours. You can easily register yourself and get on your way to escaping that 9-to-5 grind. Or it can be a great option if you’re looking to supplement your regular pay with casual income from side gigs.
In addition, the tax rules are not as complicated as those of other business structures. Micro-entrepreneurship in France does not require as much bookkeeping of accounting as other business structures. You get to pay tax and social expenses online; however, you will have to pay tax/charges on any expenses you invoice, so if you will have lots of costs such as these, maybe look into other types of business structures.
Registering as a Micro-Entrepreneur in France
Applying to be an auto-entreprenuer/micro-entrepreneur in France is a fairly simple process:
Go to the auto-entrepreneur site and click “create” or “créer.” Fill out the form – you will need a photocopy scan of your ID or Passport for this. The appropriate Centre de Formalités des Entreprises (CFE) will examine your paperwork according to the nature of your work activities.
During this process, you should have the choice to make an EIRL, which will let you keep personal assets separate from business assets. As a micro-entrepreneur in France, you have unlimited liability so, even if you opt out of the EIRL scheme, you should still try to protect your home and other assets so that creditors cannot take them over.
Around 7-10 days after your request, the CFE should grant you micro-entrepreneur (auto-entrepreneur) status. You should receive your nine-digit SIREN number (personal ID) as well as your SIRET number (company ID number) in the mail. Your SIRET number should be your SIREN plus five extra digits. You can have multiple SIRETs for different business activities, but only one SIREN. The SIRET is what allows you to send invoices and get paid. You will also receive an APE code that specifies your primary business activity.
Great, now you’re making money on your own! As a micro-entrepreneur in France, this also means that you are personally responsible for paying taxes on everything you make (so the client who hired you is not responsible). For obvious reasons, companies/clients love this, making you an appealing hire prospect.
You will either have to declare your revenue monthly or quarterly, depending on what you choose when applying. For taxes, you can either declare online or through the mail. The online option is the same site where you pay your personal taxes.
If you have any confusion, please check out the official FAQs site here. And don’t forget, google translate is your friend here — go to translate.google.com and copy any link you need on the left-hand French side. If you click on the link on the right-hand English side, you will be able to access the site in English.
Voila! You Are Ready to be a Micro-Entrepreneur
There you have it, that’s all you really need to know to become a micro-entrepreneur in France. Whether you want to be an independent writer, au pair, web designer, or consultant, the information here will get you on your way. When you’re ready, just head to the application site to get started and get your work groove flowing.
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Updated: December 1, 2020
Quick note: This is not to be taken as tax advice or legal advice or payroll advice. Since tax rules and laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a CPA / tax advisor and/or attorney for specific guidance.