Coronavirus: All you need to know about financial help in France for self-employed and business owners

The French government is to expand the financial help offered to the country's businesses and self-employed workers to help them cope with the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus lockdown.

Coronavirus: All you need to know about financial help in France for self-employed and business owners
Businesses that were told to close during the coronavirus epidemic could be eligible for financial state. Photo:AFP

Some of the information in this article is outdated and you can find new and updated information here.


Thousands of self-employed workers and small business owners have suffered heavy economic losses since the beginning of the lockdown on March 17th.

The French government put in place schemes to help them stay afloat during the lockdown, an effort that is part of a now €110 billion emergency plan.

A big chunk of the plan funds the 'partial unemployment' scheme for employees that now has more than 9 million French workers claim benefits while employers hold their jobs open during the lockdown.

But the pot of cash set aside to support the country's independent workforce has also been significantly increased since its launch, and has now passed €7 billion.

On Friday, the government said it would strengthen this economic support further.

“Starting on June 1st, we will reinforce the solidarity fund,” said Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire during a press conference.

Le Maire said more groups of workers would be getting access to help – especially those in the hotel, restaurant and event industry that would be hard hit also after May 11th, as they would need to keep stay for longer than the rest of the country's businesses.

The government said it would set a date “by the end of May” for when the restaurant, event and hotel sector could reopen.

He also said one of the packages set in place to help these economic groups would be doubled.

What is the government doing to help the self-employed?

Self-employed people belonging to either the category micro-entrepreneur (formerly auto-entrepreneurs), indépendant or TPE (small business owners) could be entitled to financial compensation.

The government has supplemented the initial €1,500 help package with another one. This second economic help was first elevated from €2,000 to €5,000, but Economy Minister this Friday said it would now be doubled to up to €10,000. 

However the requirements for the two packages differ and the €1,500 help package is much easier to obtain. This funding is given directly by the government, whereas the second help package needs to be requested from each business' regional authority. 

The steps for requesting each package are laid out below.

€1,500 help package

Only businesses counting less than 10 employees and earning less than €1 million a year are eligible for this aid package. 

The business also needs to tick at least one of the two following boxes.

  • It was asked to close during the coronavirus lockdown due to health reasons (as has been the case for many business in the tourist sector, restaurant sector and other)

  • Its income in March 2020 amounted to less than 50 percent of that in March 2019. Businesses that were created after March 2019 may also be eligible for the help package if their income in March 2020 amounted to less than 50 percent of their average monthly earnings since the business was launched. 

Note: a previous version of this article stated that the requirement was an income loss of 70 percent or more than the previous year. This is because the government changed the initial required loss of income from minimum 70 to 50 percent on March 31st, after a first version of this article was published.

The government has also opened this fund up for businesses that have lost 50 percent or more of their average annual income, after receiving complains that comparing with April would be misleading due to the 'yellow vest' riots having caused numbers to tumble in 2019.

Note: starting June 1st, the fund will be accessible to all hotel, restaurant and event businesses – all the businesses that needed to keep shut after May 11th – would be able to access the fund if they had up to 20 employees and were earning up to €2 million a year.

Does everyone get €1,500?

No. Only businesses where the financial loss during the lockdown amounts to at least €1,500 will get a full €1,500 in financial compensation. That means that your income in March 2020 must be at least €1,500 less than in March 2019 (or €1,500 less than the average income if the business is new).

Businesses having lost less also qualify for help, but will get smaller amounts that correspond to what they have lost.

Is this help package renewable?

Yes, the government first extended the help package to include April and now also for May. Businesses can reapply for the fund for the month of April starting May 1st and for May on June 1st.

Who does not qualify for this help?

Anyone ticking the following boxes do however not qualify for aid.

  • Small business where the owner has supplementary income sources
  • Businesses that pay dividends to shareholders
  • Business owners who launched their business after February 1st 2020 
  • Self-employed on a contract type CDD or CDI (these people can claim chômage partiel instead)
  • Anyone benefiting from a pension vieillesse (pension for the elderly)
  • Anyone who received more than €800 in social security help in March 2020

How do I access it?

If you meet the criteria above, you will get up to €1,500 automatically extended to you by French tax authorities.
To apply, click here and log in to your espace particulier to fill out the required form.
You will need to upload an attestation sur l'honneur confirming that your business did not have any fiscal or social debt remaining on December 31st 2019.
You will have to upload the following documents:
  • Your SIRET number (comprising your SIREN number)
  • Your bank RIB
  • Proof of your earnings in March 2020
  • Proof of your earnings that will be used as reference to calculate if your March 2020 income was lest than 50 percent of the previous year (or the average of the months before if your business is new).

€2,000 – €10,000 help package

This aid package is for “the businesses facing most difficulties,” according to the government's website.

Starting Wednesday, April 15th, businesses may apply for a supplementary help package from their “regional services where they exercise their activities.”

The requirements for getting this money are much stricter and few self-employed will actually qualify.

You will need to

  • Have at least one employee
  • Be unable to pay your debt for 30 days
  • Your bank has declined you a loan
Rent, gas and electricity

Businesses and self employed will also be able to suspend payments on rent, gas and electricity.

Member comments

  1. As in the Yosemite park in the USA ,more life appeared and it become much better,I think bears and wolves should be introduced into France,and we must protect Farmers and their livestock as much as we can ,but good corporation between both sides their must be a way to work on improvement of bioavailability of France.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


What to expect from your 2023 French property tax bills

The annual demands for property taxes have begun arriving at households across France - and many people will notice quite a difference to last year's bill.

What to expect from your 2023 French property tax bills

Every year in September and October the French tax office sends out bills to households across France relating to property taxes – these are separate to income tax bills, which arrive over the summer.

The autumn bills are usually made up of three parts; taxe foncière, taxe d’habitation and the redevance audiovisuelle.

However, system changes to all three parts mean that for some people bills will be be much lower than last year, while others will have nothing at all to pay.

Here’s what changes;

Redevance audiovisuelle – this was the TV licence and was charged at €138 per household, with some exceptions for pensioners or people who had no TV.

This year, it has been scrapped for everyone (including second-home owners) so most people’s bills are €138 less than last year.

Taxe d’habitation – this is the householder’s tax, paid by the inhabitant of the property – whether you rent it or own it. This is gradually being phased out, a process that started in 2019. It has been done based on income, with those on lower incomes having the charge scrapped first until it is gradually scrapped for everyone – with the exception of very high earners and second home owners.

So depending on your income level, you may have already had the tax phased out, or it may be phased out for you this year, or you may be paying a reduced rate this year.

These two changes are part of a tax giveaway from president Emmanuel Macron, and at the bottom of your tax bill you will find a note explaining how the charges have changed this year, and what you would have paid without the reductions.

It will look something like this;

Taxe foncière – this is the property owners’ tax and is paid on any property that you own – if you own the home you live in you may need to pay both taxe d’habitation and taxe foncière and if you are a second-home owner you will also pay both.

In contrast to the other two taxes, however, this one has been going up in many areas.

In fact, it’s connected to the taxe d’habitation cut – local authorities used to benefit from taxe d’habitation, so the phasing out has left many of them short of money. In some areas, they have reacted by raising taxe foncière.

This tax is calculated based partly on the size and value of the property you own (which is why if you do any major renovations or add a swimming pool you need to tell the tax office) and partly on the tax level decided by your local authority. 

This means that the actual rate varies quite widely between different parts of France, but in some areas it has gone up by 20 percent.

You can find more about how the tax is calculated, and how to challenge your bill if you think it is excessive, HERE.