Overview of the Self Employed Visa France
France is a popular destination for individuals who freelance to make a living; typically, they benefit from lower tax rates and special tax deductions in France, earn more than salaried employees, and experience reduced rates when setting up their business.
Citizens from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland are exempt from requiring a visa to work in France; however, now that the United Kingdom has left the EU, as a British citizen, you will have to apply for a visa to enjoy the benefits of living and working in France.
- Overview of the Self Employed Visa France
- What Visa Is Needed to Be Self Employed in France?
- Eligibility Criteria for France Long Stay Visa (VLS/TS)
- Documents Required
- How to Apply for a France Self Employed Visa
- How to Register as a Self Employed Person
- Immigration Integration Pathway
- French Language
- Do I Pay Taxes as a Freelancer in France?
- How Can Total Law Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Visa Is Needed to Be Self Employed in France?
To move to France as a freelancer, or work remotely in France for a limited time, there is no digital nomad visa available and you will have to apply for a long stay visa equivalent, known as an “Entrepreneur/Profession Libérale” VLS/TS residence permit.
When you arrive in France, you will have to have your visa converted into a residence permit. Upon arrival, it is essential that you have booked an appointment to have your visa validated within 15 days; you must also register your activities as a freelancer as soon as you arrive.
When applying for your visa, if you are not looking to stay in France beyond one year, you can alternatively choose between a 90-day non-renewable short stay visa and a one-year non-renewable visa instead of the VLS/TS residence permit.
Provided you follow the VLS/TS visa and residence permit process correctly, this Self Employment visa may lead you to eventually being eligible for French citizenship.
You will have to live in France under this self employment status for a minimum of five years and complete any required integration training before either applying for a ten-year residence permit or submitting a French citizenship request.
To apply for a VLS/TS Profession Liberale visa, you must prove that you earn enough or have sufficient financial resources to carry out your activity in France. This amount is measured as the equivalent of the minimum legal wage in France for a full-time employed worker.
This amount at the time of your application is listed on the French National Institute of Statistic and Economic Studies (Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques) but, for example, between May and December 2023, the minimum wage was €1,383.08 per month.
Many professions are regulated in France and, if you plan to freelance in specific industries, you will have to acquire authorisation in advance of your visa application from the governmental body of that industry before being able to practise your trade.
If your activity is regulated, you will also have to meet the conditions of the regulatory body, which may be educational or professional qualifications in your line of work. The complete list of regulated activities is on the BPIFrance website; examples include hairdressers, driving instructors, and architects.
To apply for your Profession Liberale visa, you will have to submit the following documents:
- Your passport, which must be valid for three months after your French visa would be due to expire
- Three photos meeting the passport requirements
- A completed Long Stay visa application form
- All documents required to justify your professional activity, for example, diplomas, professional experience or qualifications
- Evidence of authorisation from the governing body of your freelancing activities, if you require specific authorisation
- Evidence that your freelance job earns at least the minimum wage in France, which could be invoices, bank statements, or receipts of previous client agreements
- Proof of health insurance during your stay in France
- Payment for the application fee, which is €99
- A certificate to show you have a clean criminal record
Any documents not in French must be officially translated into French and notarised.
How to Apply for a France Self Employed Visa
To begin the process of applying for a French Self Employment visa, you must first check and obtain the required authorisation for your profession.
Next, you must gather all your required documents and apply for your Profession Liberale visa online on the French government website.
You can expect to wait up to two months to receive a decision on your visa. If your application is successful, you will need to:
- Convert your Self Employment visa into a residence permit upon arrival in the country
- Register as a self employed person as soon as you arrive in France
- Book an appointment to validate your visa within 15 days of your arrival in France
- Validate your visa within three months of your arrival to receive your residence permit
How to Register as a Self Employed Person
You must register as a self employed person; this can either be done by completing an online application form and sending it to the relevant person by post, or by completing the process online through the entrepreneur French website.
You will have to declare your activity and submit any required documents. Within two weeks you will receive your social security registration and a unique SIRET number. Once you receive this, you will be able to start invoicing clients, declaring turnover, and paying taxes and social contributions.
Immigration Integration Pathway
When you arrive in France and you convert your long stay visa into a residence permit, you will have to have an appointment with the French Office of Immigration and Integra. They will facilitate your integration into French culture following your immigration.
The office’s primary objectives are to facilitate any training to support your integration, provide French language courses if necessary, and check you are medically healthy on arrival. Unless you were already in France under a different visa, you will need a medical appointment for the profession libérale visa.
Once these three criteria are met, your residence permit will be validated; if you are looking to more permanently settle in France, you will have to complete the training and accept the values of the French Republic.
You do not need to evidence your French language level in order to apply for a freelance visa; however, when you have your integration interview, you will have a French assessment test. If you already have a French diploma, you can take this to your interview and it may exempt you from taking the test.
The interviewer will evaluate your French level and decide how many hours of French lessons you require; this could vary between 50 to 200 hours of French classes. Evidence that you have completed your courses, alongside any other required civic classes, will be needed if you wish to renew your residence permit.
Do I Pay Taxes as a Freelancer in France?
Freelancers in France are responsible for declaring their income to the French government and paying taxes. Your contributions will include employment taxes, social security contributions, and VAT charges.
You do not need to report your income or pay any taxes until you have been working for three months and, as a freelancer in France, you will benefit from tax deductions depending on your industry. In some cases, these tax deductions can be up to 71%.
You will have to make social security contributions if you have earnt income and are between 12.8% and 22.2%, again, depending on your industry. Your social security contributions will cover different things versus salaried employees, and you may still need to rely on insurance for things like workplace accidents.
With respect to VAT, self-employed businesses are exempt from VAT if their turnover is between €34,400 and €85,800, depending on the business activity. Any turnovers above the threshold are mostly charged at 20%.
How Can Total Law Help?
Moving from the UK to France can be a very stressful process and applying for a French visa can add more stress to that mental load. Moving to France as a freelancer involves many additional steps to your visa application, such as checking the requirements of your industry and collating any required evidence of qualification. It is essential that you fill in your application completely and correctly to increase your chances of a positive decision.
Total Law is an experienced law firm that specialises in global immigration. Our immigration experts have decades of experience and can provide you with personalised support specific to your circumstances, whether you have any questions about the visa process or would like someone to complete your visa application on your behalf.
Call us today on 0333 305 9375, or contact us online, to hear about our full range of services or how we can help you maximise the likelihood of being accepted for a visa.
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Yes, unless you have a bank account from another country in the EEA, you will need to open a French bank account in order to receive payment and pay taxes. However, if your turnover is above €10,000 for two consecutive years, it is a legal requirement to open a French business account.
Entrepreneur/profession libérale VLS/TS residence permits also cover people who want to set up their own business in France. You must be able to show that your business is economically viable and provide specific supporting documents related to your personal and professional situation.
If your business will be covered by specific French regulations, you must meet the qualification requirements of that industry and meet any additional conditions.