Registering as self-employed in France can be complicated if you don’t speak French or know the administrative procedures to follow. In this article, we’ll explain the jargon and the steps you need to go through to register yourself as self-employed. Registering as self-employed in France used to be called becoming an auto-entrepreneur. This has now changed to the status of micro-entrepreneur.
Becoming a micro-entrepreneur is designed to make it easy for people to set themselves up as self-employed for tax and social security contributions purposes. In comparison with all other business setups in France, the micro-entrepreneur setup is the most straightforward.
Note: working as a micro-entrepreneur is a tax status, not a legal business.
Before you Register as Self Employed in France - FAQ
Before you register as a micro-entrepreneur, check that this is the right setup for your situation. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
How many customers will you have?
Be aware that you have to invoice at least 3 people / companies per year. Invoicing only one person/company can be perceived as “disguised employment” which is heavily sanctioned by French law.
How much are you likely to earn?
There is a limit to the amount you can earn as a micro-entrepreneur. The threshold varies according to your type of activity as follows:
“Profession liberale” (rental of classified furnished tourist accommodation or provision of a service) : €72,600 € HT (before tax) per year
Purchase/resale activity, sale of food for consumption on the premises and accommodation services (BIC) : €176,200 HT (before tax) per year
Mixed activities (services & sales) : €176,200 HT (before tax) per year maximum of which €72,600 maximum in services
Will you need to claim back expenses?
Expenses can’t be claimed back under the micro-entrepreneur tax status.
Registering Your Self-Employed Activity
You’ve confirmed that micro-entrepreneurship is the right set up for you. The next step is to register with the appropriate Centre des Formalités des Entreprises (CFE). There are 3 different CFEs as follows:
Chambre des Métiers et de l’artisanat (CMA) for manual/trades and craftsman (eg. builders, carpenters)
Chambre de commerce et l’Industrie (CCI) if you have a shop or a commercial company (eg. conciergerie service)
URSSAF – for intellectual services and those who can’t register with the above (eg. web developers, bloggers)
If you’re clear on which CFE applies to your type of activity, you can register with them directly. If not, you can register with guichet-entreprises.fr, and they should refer your application to the correct CFE. This link may also help: Liste des Centres de formalités des entreprises (CFE)
Useful Information When Registering
It's possible to be a micro-entrepreneur and an employee of a company at the same time. This means you can be exclusively self-employed as a micro-entrepreneur OR have your micro-entrepreneurship as a complementary activity in parallel with your status as an employee, pensioner, student, etc.
As a micro-entrepreneur you can have multiple activities. You should register the profession which generates the most income.
If you set up as a tradesperson, you're likely to be required to complete a course (in French) to certify that you know how to run your business.
Some professions are regulated in France, such as tradesman, accountants and hairdressers. If your activity falls under the regulated activities, you’ll have to provide proof of your qualification.
Revenue Declarations & Social Charges
Bear in mind that it's your responsibility to declare your revenue and pay the associated social charges. You can choose to do this monthly or quarterly. This involves declaring the amounts paid into your bank account each month/quarter (as opposed to the amounts invoiced).
If you don’t earn anything, you don’t have any social charges to pay. However, you must still declare your revenue monthly/quarterly even if you have no earnings.
Social charges vary based on your type of activity to get an idea (so you can factor this cost into your pricing) check out the table below:
In addition to paying social charges, all French residents must complete a yearly tax return. Every May, you’ll declare your household income covering the period from January to December of the year before.
When you set up your micro-entrepreneur status, you can opt to pay your income tax at the same time as your social charges through the autoentrepreneur.urssaf portal. This is called “versement libératoire de l’impôt sur le revenu”. However, you’ll still need to complete a yearly tax return.
If you haven’t opted for the versement libératoire de l’impôt sur le revenu you can use this table to estimate how much income tax you're likely to pay (based on a single person).
When completing your income tax declaration, you’ll inform the tax office of your yearly micro-entrepreneur income. You can’t claim back expenses, but the tax office will automatically reduce your yearly income by 34% to 71% (depending on your activity) when calculating your taxable income.
Insurance For Micro-Entrepreneurs
All businesses in France are required to have liability insurance - assurance responsabilité professionnelle. If you’re working in the building trade, you’ll also need assurance décennal.
Getting Your Invoicing Right
In France, invoices have to have the following information on them by law:
Names of the parties and their addresses,
Date of sale or provision of services and the quantity, the precise name, and the unit price excluding VAT of the products sold and the services rendered, any price reduction acquired on the date of the sale or provision of services and directly linked to that sale or provision of services, excluding discounts not provided for on the invoice,
Date on which payment is to be made,
Discount conditions applicable in the event of payment on a date prior to that resulting from the application of the general conditions of sale,
Rate of penalties payable on the day following the payment date indicated on the invoice,
Amount of the fixed compensation for collection costs due to the creditor in the event of late payment,
The number of the purchase order when it has been previously established by the buyer, and;
The billing address of the seller and the buyer if the latter is different from the address of the registered office.
We recommend you keep your self-employed activity and your personal income in separate bank accounts. You don’t need a business account - an ordinary account dedicated to your professional income will be sufficient. If you decide to have just one bank account, the tax office may consider all your income as self-employed income and therefore request additional social charges.
Help Setting Up As A Micro-Entrepreneur
If you need help registering as self-employed, get in touch. We can set you up with the correct CFE for a fixed price that allows you to call us as many times as you need to in the first year until you’re comfortable using the online portal to complete your own declarations.