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France – Self-Employment

France is a country known for its vibrant culture and business environment, making it an attractive destination for expats looking to start their own businesses or work as self-employed individuals. In this article, we will explore how self-employment works for expats in France, how to register as self-employed, the possibility of working as a digital nomad, how to start a company, and whether there are any incentives or programs to encourage expats to become self-employed or set up a company in France.

How Self-Employment Works for Expats in France

Self-employment is a common option for expats in France, and there are no specific requirements or restrictions on foreign nationals registering as self-employed. Self-employed individuals in France are required to register with the URSSAF and pay social contributions on their income.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Register as Self-Employed in France

The process of registering as self-employed in France can be complicated, but it is manageable with the right guidance. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Choose your legal structure: Before registering as self-employed, you need to decide on your legal structure. The most common option for self-employed individuals in France is micro-entrepreneur.

  2. Obtain a SIRET number: All self-employed individuals in France are required to have a SIRET number. You can obtain a SIRET number by registering with the French Chamber of Commerce (Chambre de Commerce).

  3. Register with the URSSAF: All self-employed individuals are required to register with the URSSAF. You can do this online through their website.

  4. Register for social contributions: Once registered, self-employed individuals are required to register for social contributions and pay contributions on their income.

  5. Obtain any necessary permits and licenses: Depending on your business, you may need to obtain additional permits or licenses. This will vary depending on the type of business you are starting and the location.

Can You Work as a Digital Nomad in France?

Yes, it is possible to work as a digital nomad in France. However, the country’s tax and visa regulations can be complicated, and it is essential to consult with a tax professional to ensure compliance with the relevant laws and regulations.

How to Start a Company in France

Starting a company in France can be a complex process, with various legal structures and regulations to consider. Some of the most common legal structures include a limited liability company (SARL), a joint-stock company (SA), and a sole proprietorship (entreprise individuelle).

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Set Up a Company in France

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to set up a company in France:


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  1. Choose your legal structure: As mentioned, you will need to decide on your legal structure before setting up your company. This will depend on various factors, such as the number of shareholders, liability, and taxation.

  2. Obtain a SIRET number: All companies in France are required to have a SIRET number. You can obtain a SIRET number by registering with the French Chamber of Commerce.

  3. Register with the French Commercial Register: All companies in France are required to register with the French Commercial Register. You can do this online through the Infogreffe website.

  4. Obtain a VAT number: All companies are required to have a VAT number. You can obtain a VAT number by registering with the French tax authority (Direction Générale des Finances Publiques).

  5. Open a bank account: Once you have obtained your VAT number, you will need to open a bank account for your company. This will be used to deposit and withdraw funds related to your business.

  6. Obtain any necessary permits and licenses: Depending on your business, you may need to obtain additional permits or licenses. This will vary depending on the type of business you are starting and the location.

Incentives or Programs to Encourage Expats to Become Self-Employed or Set Up a Company in France

France has several programs and incentives designed to encourage entrepreneurship and foreign investment in the country. Here are some of the most notable:

  1. La French Tech: La French Tech is a government-backed program that supports the development of innovative start-ups in France. The program offers a range of resources and support for entrepreneurs, including funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities.

  2. Bpifrance: Bpifrance is a French public investment bank that offers funding and support for innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The bank offers a range of financing solutions, including loans, guarantees, and equity investments.

  3. Jeune Entreprise Innovante (JEI): JEI is a tax incentive program that offers tax breaks to innovative start-ups that meet certain criteria. To be eligible, your company must have fewer than eight years of existence and be engaged in research and development activities.

  4. CIR and CII tax credits: CIR (Crédit Impôt Recherche) and CII (Crédit Impôt Innovation) are tax credits that are available to companies engaged in research and development activities. The credits can be used to offset tax liabilities and reduce the cost of R&D.

In conclusion, France offers a favorable environment for self-employment and business start-ups, with a range of resources and support available for entrepreneurs and foreign investors. Whether you are looking to work as a self-employed individual or start your own company, France is an attractive destination with a vibrant business culture and a reputation for innovation and creativity. However, it is important to be aware of the country’s complex tax and legal regulations and to seek professional guidance when navigating the process of starting a business in France.


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