If you’re planning on doing any freelance work while living in France, you’ll need to register as an auto-entrepreneur in France in order to properly pay your taxes. Before hiring you, any reputable company will ask for your SIRET number, which you can obtain by following the déclaration de début d’activité (the declaration of your start of activity) outlined in this post.
Being an auto-entrepreneur allows quite a bit of freedom. You can have multiple clients, or earn money from your side hustle if you have a regular salaried job. You’re able to register two different types of activity if you do drastically different types of work, like photography and cooking. But as always, it’s best to do it all legally and to remain in good standing with the tax authorities!
Here I’ve screenshot the forms for registering your auto-entreprise (or micro-entreprise as it’s now officially called, though most French people still refer to it as an auto-entreprise), and explained how to fill out each section. The website to register as an auto-entrepreneur in France is lautoentrepreneur.fr– any other website, or any website that asks you to pay, is not the official site. If you’re still learning French or are unsure of the response to a question, hopefully this post will be helpful!
Disclaimer: I am not a French tax professional. This post is based on my personal experience alone and is intended to help those who may not understand some of the questions asked when registering as an auto-entrepreneur. It does not constitute legal or professional advice.
How to Register as an Auto-Entrepreneur in France
Once you get to the website lautoentrepreneur.fr, click on Créer mon entreprise to launch the declaration process.
Your first step is to choose your domaine d’activité, or your area of activity. Many are grouped together, so it might take you some time to find yours. For example, if you want to register as a photographer or as a graphic designer, you’ll need to choose INFORMATIQUE, MULTIMEDIA, DESSIN, PHOTOGRAPHIE. If you want to register as a blogger, you’ll need to choose INTERNET. Finding the correct domaine might take some trial and error to find the one that corresponds to your activity.
Once you choose your domaine, you have to choose your activity itself. There’s no initial dropdown in this section, so you can either begin typing in your activity, at which point a dropdown will appear with the different options; or you can click the box on the right that says Afficher toutes les activités du domaine, which brings up the dropdown shown above of all the options within that domaine. If you don’t find your activity, you may need to change your domaine.
Now you’ll begin filling in your personal information. The boxes that are outlined in red are required- those in green are recommended but not required.
DÉCLARATION RELATIVE À LA PERSONNE
1) The first question asks if you have ever done non-salaried activity in France. This includes any prior experience as an auto-entrepreneur, but also as a contractor. Check the box if you have.
2) This section is all about your personal information. Your nom de naissance is the last name you had at birth, or your maiden name if you’re married. Your nom d’usage is where you’ll put your married name, or leave blank if you’re not married or didn’t take your spouse’s name. Your prénoms are your first and any middle names (most French people have at least 3 total). You’re not required to include your middle name, but if it’s on your visa or carte de séjour, I would recommend including it.
The section under your name and nationality is for when and where you were born. Your birthdate goes after Né(e) le : in the DD/MM/YYYY format. If you were born outside of France, choose à l’étranger, and then enter your country and city of birth.
The last part of section 2 is your home address. The street number comes first (numéro dans la voie), then any addition to the street number (bis, ter, etc). The type de voie refers to the type of street (boulevard, rue, avenue) and the libellé de voie is the street name. The distribution spéciale is where you’ll put your mailbox number if your name is not on your home mailbox, and the complément de localisation could be your apartment number (but isn’t necessary to indicate). The next two boxes, your postal code and city (commune), are required. Most people do not live at a CEDEX address so you’ll likely leave that unchecked, as well as the bureau distributeur.
3) This section asks if you are working with your partner or PACSé (read more about the PACS here). Leave blank if you are not.
ENTREPRISE INDIVIDUEL À RESPONSABILITÉ LIMITÉE
5) The option EIRL essentially allows you to protect any significant personal assets if your business accrues any debt or goes into default. I chose not to opt for this personally, as I don’t own property and don’t have significant investments anywhere. If you do, you may want to consult with a French tax professional before beginning your auto-entrepreneur business, just to ensure everything is in line.
DÉCLARATION RELATIVE AU LIEU D’EXERCICE OU À L’ÉTABLISSEMENT
6) This question is asking where you will be doing your auto-entrepreneur related work. Option 1 is your home address (à votre adresse personnelle), option 2 is at an office (à une adresse professionnelle), and option 3 is at someone else’s residence (à une adresse de domiciliation). If you choose an option other than your home address, you will be prompted to fill out another address form.
7) Here they ask for more information about your activity. You’ll need to indicate the starting date of your business (date de début d’activité), which needs to be dated within 30 days of submitting this form. If you’re doing a seasonal activity, like something holiday or summer related, check oui on the next line (vous exercez une activité saisonnière).
The activité la plus importante will already be populated from the activity you chose at the beginning, but you can include any other side activities in the next line (Indiquez l’ensemble des activités exercées). For the next lines Sa nature and Précisez cette nature, you can indicate Autre in the dropdown, and N/A on the second line.
8) You have two payment options (option de versement)- trimestriel or mensuel (quarterly or monthly). This is when you will pay your social charges that would normally come out of a salaried paycheck. Choose the option that best suits you and your finances. It’s important to remember as well that once you’re registered as an auto-entrepreneur, you’ll need to do this declaration every month/quarter even if you haven’t earned anything during the declaration period (in which case you won’t have anything to pay anyways).
Next, you’re prompted to enter your 15-digit social security number. If you haven’t applied for or received one yet, you can check the box labeled Ce numéro ne m’a jamais été attribué.
If you also have a regular job (Exercez-vous simultanément une autre activité ?), check yes, and indicate if you’re salaried, retired (retraité), or other. Underneath, indicate which social security regime you’re currently using (for most people, this will be the régime general des salariés).
9) This section asks if you would like to pay your income taxes (impôts sur le revenu) when you do your monthly/quarterly declarations. I would advise you to check yes to avoid paying all your income taxes at one time, usually in September, after doing your yearly declaration.
11) Indicate the address at which you’d like to receive any letters from URSSAF (the tax services)- either your personal or professional address, or a third party address you can enter here. Next, enter some general contact information- your landline or mobile phone number (téléphone fixe or portable), fax number if you have one, and the best email address to reach you. This is important because if you forget to make a declaration or have any message correspondance with URSSAF, this is the email address they’ll use to contact you.
12) This line is important, particularly if you’re a woman working from home. By checking this box, you ensure that your business’s information isn’t listed on the INSEE website, which contains information about all types of businesses in France. If you don’t, that information will be publicly available on the internet.
13) Filling out this section constitutes your signature, and that to your knowledge the forms have been filled out completely and correctly. If you’re creating the business on someone else’s behalf, check the right hand box (Le mandataire); if it’s your own business and your name back up in section 2 (Le déclarant désigné au cadre 2), you’ll check this box. Add where you’re signing the form (fait à Paris, Marseille, etc) and today’s date.
In the next two boxes, include your email address- this is where they’ll send your file number and your password, which you’ll need to log back into your account and make any modifications, or to upload your ID (which I’ll explain in a moment).
You have two options with the buttons at the bottom- you can choose an enregistrement provisoire, which will save your data and allow you to modify it for up to 30 days. If you choose validation, you won’t be able to edit any of your information, so check over the forms to ensure that you didn’t make any mistakes.
If you click Validation, this screen will come up next. Your file number (n° de dossier) and password (mot de passe) are listed on the left. Your declaration isn’t complete yet though- you need to upload a scan of an ID card (justificatif d’identité). This could be your passport, carte de séjour, or any other government-issued ID (not including a non-French driver’s license).
On the same page as the scan of your ID, you need to write “J’atteste sur l’honneur que la copie de cette pièce d’identité est conforme à l’original. Fait à location le today’s date“. This means “I attest on my honor that this copy of my ID is the same as the original. Signed in location on today’s date“.
Once you’ve uploaded this document, check the box next to “Je déclare sur l’honneur…“, indicating that the information you entered in the forms on previous pages, as well as your ID, is all correct.
The last step is to click Télédeclarer at the bottom of the page, which you’ll be able to do once all three steps are completed- the forms, the ID, and checking the box. This submits all the information to URSSAF to create your enterprise.
If you don’t have a copy of your ID with the attestation sur l’honneur already available, you have 30 days after clicking Validation to upload it, using your file number and password to log in. If you’d prefer to send it in by mail, this is the address you need to send it to, along with a print-out of the completed forms (click Envoi papier) so they can register your request to create your business.
And that’s it! It will take up to a month for you to receive your SIRET number, and then you’ll be officially registered as your own buisness in France.
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