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LIVING IN FRANCE

Micro-entrepreneur: How to set up as a small business in France

In an attempt to boost new businesses and start-ups, France has a special status known as 'micro-entrepreneur'. Here's how it works, from someone who has experience in going through the process.

Micro-entrepreneur: How to set up as a small business in France
Photo: 1Tomm/Depositphotos

The micro-entrepreneur status (formerly known an auto-entrepreneur) is intended for people starting out a business in a small way or operating a freelancer. It gives you a simplified structure for taxes and employment rules, and if your business later takes off and you go over the earning threshold you can simply re-register the business.

But like everything in France, setting yourself up under this regime involves a fair amount of paperwork and patience.

We asked micro-entrepreneur Claire Trévien,  a freelance content marketer based in Quimper in Brittany, for her tips on the process:

Check that you are eligible

There are different rules depending on what your business is, and which Chamber you fall under (commercial/industrial, artisanal, or liberal profession).

Finance companies, hire companies and estate agents are some of the jobs excluded from micro-entrepreneur status.

Your yearly earning should not exceed €170,000 for those re-selling goods or materials (micro-BIC) and €70,000 for those offering services (micro-BNC).

READ ALSO How does France's auto entrepreneur system work?

 

Why would I want to be an micro entrepreneur?

It's still definitely better to be salaried in France, but if you're self-employed and starting out, being an micro-entrepreneur is the best option as it's simplified to the max.

There are fixed reductions for income taxes and it is also quick to set up and easy to close down or modify your business.

READ ALSO The drawbacks of France's auto entrepreneur system

Complete the declaration for micro-entrepreneur status

You can sign up to be a micro entrepreneur online with a declaration.

This can also be done in person at the Centre de Formalités des Entreprises (CFE) or by posting the Micro-entrepreneur Déclaration de Début d’Activité form to the CFE.

Make sure you can have a scanned copy of an approved piece of ID (carte de séjour residency card or passport) when completing the self-declaration via the internet.

Once the declaration has been processed, you will then receive your unique business registration number (SIREN and SIRET).

This number is important as it proves you are a legally registered French business, listed on the national business directory.

Claire Trévien is a freelance content marketer based in Quimper, France. Photo : Claire Trévien

Consider enlisting the services of a hand holder

I took a shortcut to signing up and enlisted the services of a hand-holder, a person who does the bureaucratic legwork for you to help you set up things.

I figured it’d save me a lot of time and hassle and it did, as she not only registered me but also set me up to receive my carte vitale for my healthcare.

You might also consider going with a portage company, where you pay a higher percentage of your earnings but also get a lot of support and resources, and the benefits of being treated like a salaried employee whilst developing your business.

Of course you do have to pay for this service.

Set up a separate bank account

I already had a French bank account but if you are a micro entrepreneur you need a separate one for your business (though it can still be a personal one).

Opening a new bank account was a bit of a struggle at first as they wanted me to have papers that I didn’t have – a French tax return for example.

That’s a pretty recurring theme, a lot of bureaucracy. It can be a lot less painful if you have a personal connection.

You’ll also have to decide whether you declare your earnings every month or every three months.

READ ALSO Is my work 'genuine and effective' enough for me to stay in France?

Network to help your business grow

Don’t underestimate the power of a network for everything. It’s particularly the case here in Brittany, perhaps less so in bigger towns.

The biggest challenge for me is that I’m an introverted digital person who hates talking on the phone and isn’t a great fan of networking. 

Unfortunately, the way to do business in my part of Brittany is completely dependent on phones and networking, so I’ve had to adapt!

The human connection is everything – so go out, meet people, support other freelancers!

It’s also really worth being a part of Facebook groups dedicated to being an auto entrepreneur (several exist for English speakers) as they give you advice.

Claire's work includes project managing new websites, creating social media strategies and helping businesses grow. Recently, she also opened up a coworking space called L’Atelier Corail.

Member comments

  1. Hi, do you need to register for entrepreneur status if your business is a side huddle? For example, a salaried employee with an Etsy shop? Thank you!

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For members

LIVING IN FRANCE

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer

Strikes

But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.

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