France loves its form filling and box-ticking processes and while I’d love to tell you that setting up as self-employed in France, setting up a business and registering to work in France is all very straightforward, I can’t. If you’re employed by a company then they should help you which makes it a bit easier. But if you want to work as a freelancer or run your own business such as managing a gite then a bit of help from professional hand holders can made a huge difference.
Their expertise will make things run smoother and quicker. This will give you the chance you need to focus on what’s important – rather than dealing with administration processes that can take up heaps of time. Plus, an expert who knows how the system works can save you not just time, but money. Get the set up wrong at the start and you will be paying somewhere down the line. Either in time to sort it out which can be considerable. In potential fines. Or back payments if you’re in the wrong category (see more on that below), and costs to right the errors.
Setting up as a microentrepreneur in France
One of the most popular ways to set up a company for individuals in France, e.g. self-employed, freelancer or a small business, is to register as a microentrepreneur (Enterprise Individuelle – EI). This is a tax status, not a business structure – which requires a different set up. Setting up as EI is a relatively easy way to establish a business, with less complicated tax and accounting rules.
You’re assigned a unique tax number, called a Siren or a Siret. You pay social insurance each month or quarter, based on earnings. You pay your tax and social contributions via a system called URSSAF. And once a year you complete an annual tax form through the Government website impotsgouv.fr. There are, of course, rules about who can set up as EI. They cover a myriad of things from running a gite to being a writer. Getting the category classification right is critical at the set-up stage. As an example, a journalist is a different category from a ‘storyteller’ or blogger. Different categories pay different rates of tax.
You can be a commercial, industrial (BIC). For instance does your business involve buying and selling activities such as food supplies? Or commercial services e.g., insurance, real estate agent? Or are you in the liberal professions (BNC)? For instance designer, translator, consultant. Or agricultural (BA)? And you must be aware that if you reproduce your creations and sell them – even if you think it’s the liberal profession BNC category you want, you may be considered BIC. Only original, unique creations fall into BNC.
And there are limits on how much you can earn before you have to register as a different type of business.
There are far too many rules and regulations to go into here, but suffice to say, there’s a lot to deal with.
Get help to set up as a microentrepreneur
Setting up as a microentrepreneur takes time. You do need at least a basic understanding of French. And you need to be able to navigate French systems and know what type of EI you are – there are hundreds of categories.
And if all this doesn’t sound like something that appeals to you (and hats off to you if it does), there’s help at hand. John Dislins of Please Help says ‘it’s stressful enough trying to set up a new business in France so what we do is take away the pain. We’ve helped hundreds of people to register their business. We also help them complete their annual accounts and create thriving businesses. We’re really proud to have been there at the start with them.”
He and his team offer a professional hand holding service. They take care of every aspect of helping you set up your business – from choosing the correct category of microentrpreneur, translation services, joining you on calls with French administration services, helping you with your tax and annual returns. They set up an email address so that enquiries from tax offices go to them. .This way they help you keep on top of enquiries and requests from various officials, and make sure that they are dealt with in a timely manner.
As someone who has used their services myself (and continue to), I highly recommend Please Help to make sure you start your new business and life in France in a way that helps you live it to the full and without spending time you may not have on administration processes.
Find out more about how Please Help can support you with your business in France, as well as settling into a new life in France (Carte de sejours/health card etc): pleasehelp.eu Get 50€* off with the code TGL052023SM on purchase of a pack, valid till 16/9/2023.