Working in France freelancing and self-employment (2023)

Becoming self-employed or working on a freelance basis is a popular option for many expats who need to earn a living after moving to France. Here’s what you need to know to get started

Opting to become self-employed or freelance is a popular option for many British residents in France and it makes sense on many levels. Those with prior experience of being self-employed in the UK will have a slight advantage. They will be familiar with all the potential pitfalls (as well as the plus point of being able to work while wearing pyjamas!); however, there are big differences in terms of rules and regulations when you work on a freelance basis in France and whether you are an old hand or just starting out in the world of self-employment, it’s well worth checking out French employment law and regulations for sole traders.


Start by checking whether you are allowed to carry out your chosen activity under one of the business structures that govern self-employed home workers in France. The most commonly used is the micro-entreprise (ME) regime formerly known as auto-entrepreneur. This is a simple and easy route to self-employment; however, certain professions such as estate agency are excluded as are those who receive royalties such as authors. The simplest way to find out whether you qualify is to check with your local Chambres de Commerce et d’Industrie (CCI) or Chambres de Métiers et de l’Artisanat (CMA). They are a valuable source of advice and information and will be able to inform you about any regulations that may affect your profession, as well as advising on any financial assistance that may be available for new businesses and putting you in touch with the appropriate bodies.


(Video) Becoming a freelancer or self employed worker in France

They will also be able to advise you on the type of business structure you need to create. While the ME scheme is simple and user-friendly it may not be appropriate if your turnover is likely to exceed certain thresholds (currently €70,000 for services and €170,000 for sales of goods and materials for example) or you are likely to incur significant expenses as the allowances for costs are inbuilt into the ME tax bands and no deductions for expenses are available. If your chosen activity falls into the regulated professions category which includes hairdressers, accountants, builders and wine importers, you will need to be registered with the appropriate body and may need to prove that you possess the necessary qualifications or experience before you are able to start up. Again, your local CCI or CMA will be able to advise. Certain professions, most notably artisans (trades) will also need to attend a training course known as a stage de préalable à l’installation. This usually lasts around four or five days, costs around €200, is organised by the CMA and covers the various aspects of running your own business.


You can also choose to use an umbrella company rather than register as a business in your own right. Once you have signed a contract with them, they act as your ‘employer’ and deal with all the paperwork, while you get on with finding the clients and doing the work. This is known as portage salarial and provides peace of mind in terms of invoicing and means that you are entitled to the same healthcare, unemployment and retirement benefits as any other employee. You may also be able to offset some costs (such as travel to client meetings), and it can be useful if you are working for overseas clients. However, these companies do take a percentage, usually between 7-10% and you will need to calculate potential earnings and see if it will be worth your while.


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Once you have decided what you are going to do and how you are going to set it up, you will need to register the business. Previously this involved a visit to the Centre de Formalités des Entreprises (CFE) and could have been the CCI, CMA or URSSAF depending on the activity; however the move to online formalities means that most people will be able to quickly and easily register their business using the Urssaf website. You will need to provide ID and you may also need proof of the appropriate insurance, most notably assurance décennale (a 10-year guarantee) for builders; other regulated professions will also require insurance. Processing your business registration usually happens quite quickly and you will then be allocated a unique SIREN number. This proves that you are a legitimate business and will be used by all government and official agencies. You will also get a SIRET number (which is your SIREN plus a five digit code which identifies the location of the business); clients and employers will often ask for this SIRET number, and you may also be asked for the APE or NAF codes which identify the main activity of your business and which will be issued at the same time. A list of the various CFE centres can be found online here.


Part of the responsibilities of being a freelancer is keeping track of paperwork and although the ME system is fairly simple, you will need to get organised. This includes keeping track of receipts (cahier de recettes), keeping expense records (if applicable), making monthly or quarterly income declarations, using a separate bank account (although this doesn’t need to be a designated business account and many of the online banks have suitable products), paying CFE tax (cotisation foncière des entreprises) every year in December and making sure that your invoices are fully compliant with French requirements. As well as the usual elements such as dates, client details, price, payment terms, description of goods or services etc, you also need to include your SIRET/SIREN number, and professional qualifications or insurance details if appropriate and as you are not charging TVA (VAT), the following phrase, ‘TVA non applicable, article 293 B du CGI’.


With everything set up and organised, you are ready to get your business off the ground and if you’ve been looking forward to a new morning routine of having a healthy breakfast and going for a run before settling down to a productive day’s work, the reality of working in isolation can prove quite different! It can be very difficult to switch off when you work from home, especially when you are starting out and it’s all too easy to find yourself working through mealtimes and at weekends. You need to be firm with yourself when it comes to taking breaks; create a routine and stick to it. Finding online support groups (industry specific or more general) is useful and make sure you voice any worries to family and friends. Making more effort to socialise outside work hours is key; both the CCI and CMA are a good resource for details of local events and groups, and attending networking events is a great way to make potential business contacts and new friends.

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Does freelancing count as self-employment? ›

While freelancers are technically self-employed, the main difference is that freelancers work from the direction of clients. Freelancers usually work on multiple projects at once for a range of clientele who, in turn, pay for specific products or services.

Can I work as a freelancer in France? ›

It is possible to work legally in France as a freelancer without registering as a business but by working through a portage salarial. Under this system, you sign a contract with a portage company (an umbrella company), who in effect becomes your employer and handles most paperwork.

How do I declare freelance income in France? ›

You will need to register with URSSAF, Chambre de Métiers or Chambre de Commerce and get your official business number called SIRET before you can start trading. Get in touch if you want help to register your freelancing activity.

Do freelancers pay taxes in France? ›

Freelance workers in France typically have to pay tax on their earnings and make social security contributions. There is a range of structures available to self-employed workers and business owners in France. The type of business you operate will dictate the taxes you'll need to pay on your income.

Should I put freelance or self-employed? ›

As a general rule, a freelancer is a person who works alone. They don't typically have any help to perform the work they do. Someone self-employed tends to have a team under their belt, helping them to keep their business going. This helps to lead to a larger-sized business than one that a freelancer operates.

Can you work freelance and be employed? ›

Can I work freelance while employed? Normally yes but you should check it's OK with your employer before you do so, particularly if your freelance work is likely to be in competition with your employer's business.

Is it legal to work remotely in France? ›

Working from Home Policy in France

They can inform their employer of their intention either verbally or in writing, and the employer who refuses must justify their reason. Employers do not need to make changes to the employment contract to allow an employee to telework.

Can I work remotely and live in France? ›

France is very welcoming place for digital nomads. French culture is famous for its flexible work-life balance, which is exactly what every remote worker needs. Paris is a popular spot for many digital nomads, though it tends to be more expensive than other cities in the country.

Can I work remotely in France short term? ›

If your plan is to come to be working remotely in France for under 3 months, you will likely get away with working under a tourist visa, even if this is not the recommended and compliant option. Always request the appropriate work visa if you plan to work in France or from France for more than three months.

How long can I work in France without paying tax? ›

An employee residing in France for less than 183 days does not owe tax on income earned through their work in the country, as long as their remuneration is paid by or on behalf of an employer which is not established in France.

Do foreign freelancers pay taxes? ›

If you work for yourself as a freelancer, independent contractor or sole proprietor — either full-time or part-time — while living in another country, and you meet the tax filing threshold, you are required to file U.S. self-employment tax on your foreign income.

Do freelancers pay taxes in Europe? ›

Who needs to pay taxes in Europe? Whether you are a self-employed remote worker, or you're being employed by a company outside of Europe, you are under the employment laws of the country you are residing in. An individual becomes a tax resident in Europe after spending six months, or 183 days in the country.

Do foreigners pay tax in France? ›

Unlike residents, non-residents in France are only taxed on their French-sourced income. Non-resident taxes are typically collected by withholding at the source. These withholding taxes are applied at progressive rates of 0%, 12%, and 20%, depending on the total amount of taxable income.

How much tax do foreigners pay in France? ›

When you file your income tax return, you can choose to have your tax calculated using the average rate. Otherwise, your income will be taxed at a minimum rate of 20% up to €26,070 for income received in 2021 and 30% for income above this threshold.

Is France the most taxed country? ›

France ranked 2nd out of 38 OECD countries in terms of the tax-to-GDP ratio in 2020. In 2020, France had a tax-to-GDP ratio of 45.4% compared with the OECD average of 33.5%. In 2019, France was also ranked 2nd out of the 38 OECD countries in terms of the tax-to-GDP ratio.

Do freelancers pay self-employment tax? ›

As a self-employed individual, generally you are required to file an annual return and pay estimated tax quarterly. Self-employed individuals generally must pay self-employment (SE) tax as well as income tax. SE tax is a Social Security and Medicare tax primarily for individuals who work for themselves.

Who pays more tax self-employed or employed? ›

Whether you are employed, self-employed, both or neither will make a difference to the amount of tax and National Insurance contributions (NIC) you have to pay, as well as how you pay. You need to know which of these apply to you, so that you can comply with your tax obligations and claim tax reliefs available to you.

What is downside to being self-employed? ›

Disadvantages of self-employment

Lack of employee benefits - You won't get sick pay, holiday pay or any other employee benefit. Long hours - Your working day may be much longer and more irregular than someone who isn't self-employed.

Can I have a full-time job and a freelance job? ›


You can have a full-time job but also work on the side as a freelancer. For example: Rebecca works as a full-time developer for TaxScouts but she also writes software for her own clients via PeoplePerHour. She needs to register as self-employed and declare her untaxed income.

Is freelancing considered as dual employment? ›

Moonlighting is also not necessarily dual employment, which is a formal employer-employee relationship, complete with legal obligations like minimum wage, provident fund, gratuity etc. It could also be side hustles or freelancing which can be with or without the knowledge of the primary employer.

Can you work full-time and freelance at the same time? ›

Learning how to balance freelance work with a full-time career is challenging, but can definitely be done. In this article, we'll help you learn some tips and tricks for balancing freelance work while maintaining your traditional career and for making both jobs work for you.

Can I be self-employed in the UK and live in France? ›

A self-employed worker habitually working in France who temporarily « self-posts » to the United Kingdom will remain a member of the French Social Security system and continue to pay contributions and charges in France ( CSG and CRDS if the worker is a tax resident of France).

Is it illegal to talk work on weekends in France? ›

French Law Bans Employers From Contacting Employees With Work During Weekends. In an increasingly work-focused culture, it can be pretty hard to disconnect and leave that stress at the office.

Where do I pay tax if I work remotely? ›

If you have a telecommuting employee in a different state than your location, or employees in multiple states, you must withhold income taxes for the state they live and work in. You'll pay unemployment taxes and report their income to the states where they live, not your state.

Can I move to France if I am self-employed? ›

To come to France as a self-employed worker, you must either obtain a multiyear “entrepreneur/liberal profession” residence permit card, a multiyear “passport talent” residence permit with the mention “business founder”, or a multiyear “passport talent” residence permit with the mention “innovative project recognised ...

Is it illegal to work remotely in another country? ›

It is legal to work from many countries throughout the world even if you aren't a resident of that country. However, you'll need to comply with your chosen country's visa and tax requirements in order to stay there legally. A compliance partner can help you sort through these requirements.

Can I live in Europe if I have a remote job? ›

The best thing about working remotely is that you can do it from anywhere in Europe. So, if you want to relocate to Europe and relish the luxury of life, Europe is a favorite destination for remote workers and digital nomads.

Can I work in France for 3 months? ›

If the duration of your employment contract exceeds three months, you will be issued with a long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit, bearing the statement “travailleur temporaire” (temporary worker). You must validate it within three months following your arrival in France.

Can I work remotely in the EU for a week? ›

In general, most countries in the EU do not have a special digital nomad or remote working visa. There are a few that do, but you will mostly depend on the Schengen tourist visa. This visa lets you move, live and work remotely within Europe for up to three months but only every 190 days.

How long can you work in another country without tax implications? ›

In most cases, you must file as a tax resident and pay income tax if you stay for more than six consecutive months in a year. Tax-residency rules also apply to contractors and part-time workers, especially in regards to reporting taxes.

How can I avoid paying tax in France? ›

  1. Donations and grants to a charitable organisation.
  2. The cost of employing help in the home.
  3. The purchase of shares in small and medium enterprises.
  4. Subscription to mutual fund units for innovation (Fonds Commun de Placement dans l'Innovation – FCPI)

What happens if you don't declare tax in France? ›

Increases and penalties for late or non-declaration

40% if the declaration has not been filed within 30 days of receiving a formal notice. – 80% if the administration discovers that a hidden activity (undeclared or illegal) is being carried out.

What happens if you work illegally in France? ›

The penalty for illegal employment is of 3 years of imprisonment and a 45 000€ fine for an individual. The fine is increased to 225 000€ if the offender is a company. The penalty is increase to 5 years of imprisonment and a 75 000€ fine in case of illegal employment of an underage.

Do I need to declare freelance income? ›

As an employee, your company sorts all this out for you. Freelancers, instead, pay estimated taxes twice a year, known as “payments on account” (more on this later). Tax payments for the self-employed are based on “profit”, which is total income minus expenses.

How do freelancers get paid internationally? ›

You can use your business bank account to transfer payment to the bank account of your freelance employee. While this is safe, the only downside is that overseas bank transfers are slow and expensive. Your freelancer most of the time would need to wait for up to a week for your payment to arrive in their account.

How much can a freelancer make without paying taxes? ›

Freelancers can't avoid dealing with taxes. If you make any freelance income over $400, you must report it to the IRS. Fortunately, the IRS treats your freelance career as a business, which means you can deduct expenses from the income.

Which EU country is best for freelancers? ›

The 5 Best Freelancing Countries in the European Union
  • Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Tallinn, Estonia.
  • Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
  • Birgu, Malta.
  • Ayia Napa, Cyprus.
31 Aug 2022

Where do I pay taxes if I work remotely in Europe? ›

Which country can tax you? There are no EU-wide rules that say how EU nationals who live, work or spend time outside their home countries are to be taxed on their income. However, the country where you are resident for tax purposes can usually tax your total worldwide income, earned or unearned.

How do I pay tax if I am self-employed? ›

Income tax when self-employed

When you're self-employed, you pay income tax on your trading profits – not your total income. To work out your trading profits, simply deduct your business expenses from your total income. This is the amount you'll pay Income Tax on.

How much of salary is taxed in France? ›

The minimum 20% tax rate (or 14.4% for income earned in France's overseas départements) is increased to 30% (or 20% for income earned in France's overseas départements) above a certain threshold of net taxable income (set at €26,070 for income received in 2021).

What happens if you don't declare earnings? ›

If you're resident in the UK, you may need to report foreign income in a Self Assessment tax return. If you do not report this, you may have to pay both: the undeclared tax. a penalty worth up to double the tax you owe.

Can you be resident in France without being tax resident? ›

Strictly speaking, the French authorities state that if your family home is in France, even though you may work outside of France and spend most of your own time out of the country, you are considered to be resident in France for tax purposes, although not necessarily for social security obligations.

Does France pay more tax than UK? ›

Most couples pay less income tax or “impôts sur le revenu” in France than they would as a resident of the UK. This is not an outrageous claim but a statement of fact.

Which country is tax free for foreigners? ›

Currently, Oman is a tax-free nation, as there is no taxation on personal income. Moreover, there are no taxes on income from property, wealth, capital gains or death. However, the Oman Government is currently evaluating a Personal Income Tax Regime as a part of its 2020-2024 Medium Term Fiscal Plan.

Is healthcare free in France? ›

You must have health insurance cover to live in France. State healthcare in France is not free. Healthcare costs are covered by both the state and through patient contributions. These are known as co-payments.

What is the average salary in France? ›

What is the average salary in France in 2022? In 2022, the average salary in France is €2,340 net per month or €39,300 net per year. Due to the differences in the cost of living across different French cities, the average salary in Paris is €2,570 net per month, 9.8% higher than the national average.

What is the best country in Europe for taxes? ›


At a flat 10%, Bulgaria has the European Union's lowest personal income tax rate. Corporate income tax rates are the same flat rate of 10% (tied with Cyprus), and Bulgaria maintains tax treaties with many countries that could allow for special tax treatment for some international entrepreneurs.

Which is the highest tax paid country in the world? ›

Sweden has a developed post-industrial society with an advanced welfare state and the highest income tax rate in the world, with as much as 52.9% deducted from annual income.

What counts as a self-employment? ›

Generally, you are self-employed if any of the following apply to you. You carry on a trade or business as a sole proprietor or an independent contractor. You are a member of a partnership that carries on a trade or business. You are otherwise in business for yourself (including a part-time business or a gig worker).

What counts as self-employed work? ›

The general rule is that you will be: An employee if you work for someone and do not have the risks of running a business. Self-employed if you have a trade, profession or vocation, are in business on your own account and are responsible for the success or failure of that business.

Who is considered as self-employed? ›

The Self-employed definition describes a self-employed person as someone who earns his income by taking contracts with a business rather than working for a particular employer. They do not get consistent salaries or wages from a particular employer because they usually work for more than one employer.

What are the 3 types of self-employment? ›

The three types of self-employed individuals include:
  • Independent contractors. Independent contractors are individuals hired to perform specific jobs for clients, meaning that they are only paid for their jobs. ...
  • Sole proprietors. ...
  • Partnerships.
17 Oct 2022

What proof do I need for self-employment? ›

Some ways to prove self-employment income include:
  • Annual Tax Return. This is the most credible and straightforward way to demonstrate your income over the last year since it's an official legal document recognized by the IRS. ...
  • 1099 Forms. ...
  • Bank Statements. ...
  • Profit/Loss Statements. ...
  • Self-Employed Pay Stubs.

How do I know if I'm self-employed? ›

You're self-employed if you run your business for yourself and 'take responsibility for its success or failure'. Another clue is how you're earning money for your work. If you're self-employed, you won't be paid through employee Pay As You Earn (PAYE).

Do international freelancers pay taxes? ›

No, overseas contractors don't pay U.S. taxes. However, the U.S. company that hires a foreign contractor or freelancer should require the contractor to file IRS Form W-8BEN. The contractor may then be subject to taxes in their home country.

How much money can you make freelance before paying tax? ›

If you earn $400 or more from freelance work in any given year, you are responsible for paying taxes on those earnings.

Do I have to declare self-employed income under 1000? ›

The exemption is automatic and if your self employed income is £1,000 or less you do not need to tell HMRC or file a tax return. It applies to individuals only,not partnerships (e.g husband and wife trading in partnership).

How long can I freelance for one company? ›

The question of how long a contractor can work for the same company has a surprisingly simple answer. There is no maximum time limit. If a contractor and a company are both happy to continue working with each other then that's perfectly fine.

What are the disadvantages of self-employment? ›

Disadvantages of Self-Employment
  • Less security - It will be your responsibility to make sure you always have work to do. ...
  • Fewer free benefits - You will have to pay for your own vacation time, fund your own retirement plans, and buy your own dental, disability and life insurance.
7 Mar 2022

How much tax do you pay if self-employed and employed? ›

UK income tax rates and bands for 2022/23 are:

0% tax on income up to the tax threshold of £12,570. 20% tax on earnings between £12,571 and £50,270. 40% tax on earnings between £50,271 and £150,000. 45% on earning over £150,000.

What is not considered self-employed? ›

The key to determining if you're self-employed is to assess whether you're in business for yourself or are the owner of your own business. This includes any part-time businesses or private “side jobs” where you're performing services in addition to a regular job or business.


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