Creating an individual business with simplified status in France

If you want to sell your products or services in France, you can start your small business as a sole proprietor with a simplified corporate regime called a “micro-entreprise”, also known as an “auto-entreprise”.

Verified by Chiara Condi on 30/05/2022

If you want to set up your business to sell your products or services in France, it is often advisable to start with the status of “micro-entrepreneur”, formerly known as “auto-entrepreneur”. This is a simplified sole proprietorship scheme.

This status makes it possible to create a company in France by benefiting from simplified administrative procedures, and tax and social security rules. 

However it does not allow you to hire employees or work with others within the same company.

Conditions

If you are a citizen of a member state of the European Union or the European Economic Area, you simply need a valid identity document.

If you are a citizen of another country, you must also have a residence permit or “titre de séjour”, which authorises you to set up a company. This residence permit can be:

  • a residence permit card or “carte de séjour” bearing the words “toute profession en France”, or “entrepreneur / profession libérale
  • a “carte de séjour” bearing the words “vie privée et familiale” or private and family life
  • a specific “titre de séjour” for Algerian citizens called a “carte de résident algérien”.

If you are unsure of the rules that apply to your “titre de séjour”, you can contact the local French administrative authorities known as the “préfecture” who issued it to you:

  • you will find their contact details in this directory.
  • if you are not authorised to set up a company, you will probably have to apply for a specific residence permit authorising self-employed activity.

How to proceed

The procedures can be complex, especially if you do not speak French. It is recommended that you get help so that you do not make a mistake when declaring your business activity. 

For example, you can contact an organisation called “Centres de formalités des entreprises (CFE)” by searching this directory for advice on your situation.

  • The procedures for creating a “micro-enterprise” take place online:

    When you register, you will need to provide the following:

    • Your current valid residence permit or “titre de séjour”. If it expires soon, your application may not be accepted. Remember to renew it. 
    • Your registration number for the state health insurance system known as your social security number or “numéro de sécurité sociale”. If you don’t have it, you can tick a box in your application indicating this, and finish the declaration of your business activity anyway.

    When setting up your business, you will have to choose whether you want to pay your social security contributions every month or every three months. It is mandatory to pay these charges.

  • Once you have declared your business activity, follow these steps:

    • Send the declaration of your activity to the centre responsible for administrative procedures for companies called the “Centre de Formalité des Entreprises”. The centre to which you belong may vary depending on your activity.
    • If you are going to carry out a commercial, industrial or artisanal business activity, you must register your company with the “Registre du Commerce et des Sociétés (RCS)”. An explanation of how to do this can be found on this website.
    • If you are going to perform an artisanal business activity, you must also do a self-employment course. You will receive information on this when you declare your company.

After setting up your company

Once your company has been created, you will receive a document by post within the next few days stating your company’s official business number, known as its “SIRET”. 

Please keep this document in a safe place, as it will help you with everything you need to do in relation to your company. You must include this number on your invoices.

  • If you have not already done so, you will then have to create an online account on the Urssaf” website

    You can declare your income and pay your social security contributions online on this website:

    • If you have chosen to declare and pay your contributions every month, they will be payable before the end of each month. 
    • If you have opted to pay and declare your income and pay your contributions every three months, they must be declared and are payable from your business' second quarter.
    • If you haven’t made any money, it’s important that you still submit a declaration of €0. You will then have no charges to pay.

    You can also choose to declare and pay your social security contributions via post. In this case, you will receive the documents to be completed and sent to your home address.

  • The town or city that appears on your “auto-entrepreneur” registration will ask you to pay a tax called “Cotisation Foncière des Entreprises (CFE)”.

    This tax must be paid above a certain income threshold. The amount varies depending on the town or city you live in. 

    At the end of the year, you will receive a form to fill in at your home address. It is important that you complete and return this document before the specified deadline, even if you have not generated any income.

Find support

In France, there are many services that can support you, give you advice, and assist you with procedures and paperwork. Most of them are free of charge.

  • ADIE” is an organisation which offers micro-financing for all types of professional projects.

    • If you are unable to obtain a loan from a bank, they can offer you loans ranging from 100 to 12,000 euros with certain conditions. 
    • They can also offer support creating a business. They have a free project creation tool online.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • Contact: by chat or by phone on 09 69 32 81 10. Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can also contact an agency near you.
  • Pôle Emploi” helps people find employment, and can advise on business creation. They also manage French unemployment payments or “allocations de retour à l’emploi” commonly known as “chômage”.

    • This service is free of charge.
    • To use this service, you must first register with them online. You will then receive an appointment at an agency near you.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • Contact: registration is done online on their website. If you need to contact them, there are several ways:
      • you can send them an e-mail from your personal space after creating your online profile
      • you can call them on 3949, a free number available Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
      • you can visit an agency near you, in person, without an appointment in the morning.

While the utmost care has gone into providing you with the most accurate and up to date information, this page is not intended to replace legal or professional advice. Laws and procedures change regularly so it is important to consult qualified professionals.

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