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Registering as an auto-entrepreneur in France

*please note since  2016 the name was changed to micro-entrepreneur, you may still come across websites and printed forms referring to it under it’s original name of auto-entrepreneur.

Setting up as an auto-entrepreneur in France is a relatively straightforward process. However, as with all things French there is a certain amount of paperwork involved and you will require some level of French language comprehension*.

There are two types of business you can set up

  • Services- max turnover 32,600e
  • Re-sale – max turnover 81500e

You can remain with the micro-entreprise scheme for as long as you do not exceed the thresholds over a two-year period. If you do, then you have to change to the standard business structure.

Things you’ll need before you start:

  • You are almost certainly going to need a copy of your birth certificate. If you don’t have one to hand (mine was ‘safely’ filed in an attic back in the UK) then the UK government has made it really easy for you to order a replacement online.
  • A separate bank account** – you are now expected to have a bank account dedicated solely to your business.


How does the Auto-Entrepreneur system work?

Here is a brief run down of French auto-entrepreneur system. It was designed to be relatively straightforward.

  • You can register online (or make appointment to go in person to the appropriate office). Registering online is actually very straightforward.
  • You declare your turnover quarterly and this can now be done very quickly and easily online. The website will calculate what is due and it can be automatically deducted from your bank.
  • Social charges are applied on a pay-as-you-earn basis
  • Tax returns are due May of each year.
  • Auto-entrepreneurs pay an annual business tax in October / November called the CFE tax (Cotisation Fonciere des Entreprises)
  • You pay taxes and social charges as a percentage of your turnover so if you are likely to incur lots of expenses speak to an accountant to see what other options you have.
  • Please remember, the French deal in turnover, not profit.

How to register as an Auto-Entrepreneur (in brief)

  • Fill in an online declaration.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 17.32.54
  • As soon as you have done this you are considered an Auto-Entrepreneur.
  • Print out and send off your P0 form and a copy of your passport to complete the application.
  • URSSAF / RSI may ask for more information otherwise you will receive your SIRET number in the post within 2-4 weeks. This is your company number.

How to register as an Auto-Entrepreneur  (in detail)

You can register in three ways:

  1. You can visit the appropriate Centre de Formalités des Entreprises(CFE). There are different CFE for each type of business activity so find the right one for your business. For example:

To find the correct CFE for your type of business, click on this list.

  1. Send in this form to the appropriate CFE ….. OR
  2. Online, here, through a series of forms on the official portal for auto-entrepreneurs.

You’ll need to take in or send in a photocopy or upload a scan of your official ID or passport when you register. You may also have to prove that you have professional insurance for example, the assurance décennale for builders.

If your business is a trade then you also need to register with the Répertoire des Métiers (RM) using this form. If you will be selling goods, you must declare your business to the Registre Spécial des Agents Commerciaux (RSAC) through the Greffe de tribunal de commerce using this form.

After registering you will receive your SIRET number. This needs to be written on all quotes and material related to your business.

After you have registered

Invoicing

Please click here to see the rules for creating and sending out invoices in France

Business administration course
As from January 2015, if you set up a business as a trades person you will be required to undertake a four or five-day training course (stage de préalable à l’installation or SPI) organised by the Chambres de Métiers et de l’Artisanat. There are similar optional courses available to those setting up commercial and industrial businesses. You have to pay for this training – check with your Chamber.

Regulated businesses

Some occupations are regulated in France, including accountants, vets, Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 17.59.08hairdressers, builders. If your business is one of these you will have to be registered with the appropriate organisation and may need to prove that you have the right qualifications, experience and insurance liability before you can work. Find out if your business is regulated here via the APCE website  – just click on the appropriate letter of the alphabet to find the sector you need.

Insurance

All businesses in France need to have a liability insurance called assurance responsabilité professionnelle. If you’re going to be working in the building trade then you’ll need to take out assurance décennal which is a 10-year warranty and you have to put information about the insurance on your invoices.

Liability and insurance for freelancers

You have unlimited liability so you will need to make a déclaration d’insaisissabilité which will protect your home and other assets from being seized by creditors if you got into financial difficulties. There is also the EIRL scheme, which provides sole trader status with a form of limited liability.

 

Don’t fancy embarking on this alone?

The professionals***
If you don’t fancy embarking on this alone you can book appointments with companies such as the Alpine French School who will, during a one hour meeting, register you online, send off your first round of paperwork and leave you with a comprehensive check list of what to do next including how to register online for your quarterly tax returns.

* Fear not if language isn’t your forte there are professionals on hand who can help walk you through the process (see above).

** The new rule doesn’t specify that the bank account has to be a professional account which usually has higher bank charges so for now its still possible to keep two personal accounts, one for the business and one for the home

***As wonderful as it is to delegate the entire registration process to someone else it is really important to fully understand it yourself as you are expected, as in the UK to file returns and records of income on specified dates each year and are accountable for what you do, or don’t declare.

 

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