Paying tax in France when self employed

17 Replies

Hi, need a little advice. I am moving to France in April 2022, and would like to continue with my self employed job in the UK. The majority of it is online so is easy to do in another country however I will be paid by a UK based company (not a limited company). I have just got use to completing my tax returns in the UK and moving to France scares me a bit with trying to complete my tax return. Appreciate that I will have to pay tax in France, I won’t need to pay tax in the UK as well will I?what will I need to do to register in France for tax return? I will probably still be paid into my UK bank account of that makes any difference at all? 

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Mad-Hatter-1017809 1639480700

You have some research to do before you move, because there are a few issues here.

First, a "self-employed job" is a contradiction in terms. You say you are self employed and then you say you are "paid by a UK based company", which the UK might let you get away with but France will not. France makes a clear distinction between being a salarié (a salaried worker/employee), and a non-salaired worker which covers what the UK calles freelance, self employed, sole trader etc.  As a self-employed person you trade under your own name or your own trading name, you market your services, you build up your own client base, you invoice each client for services provided and each client pays you direct. If you are employed by a company which pays you to provide services on its behalf to its (not your) clients, you are an employee. Claiming to be self employed when you are in fact an employee, is regarded as "salariat déguisé" or concealed employment, it is illegal and you and your employer can be fined. Concealed employment is in fact hard to conceal, it is very easily picked up by the authorities if they decide to check up because they willl see straight away that all the payments into your bank account come from the same source. So the first thing to do is, establish clearly whether you are self employed and running your own business, or whether you are providing service for the clients of the UK company that pays you.

So that is the first thing you need to be clear about. One way or the other, if you are working in France in any capacity, employed or self employed, including working online or remotely, you need to be registered with the French authorities. If you're self employed you need to set up some kind of business structure with your own SIRET number, and you will pay your French social security contributions, pension contributions etc through this structure. If you're an employee your employer needs to register you and again, pay French social security contributions on your wages, because once you leave the UK you can't stay on the UK payroll and carry on paying NICs except in certain very specific situations. There's no point really in going into more detail here without knowing which route you will take. But you need to register, you can't just move to France and work below the radar unknown to the authorities, because working unregistered in France and not paying your dues, or "working on the black" as it is often called, is bound to get you into trouble sooner or later. If you can't justify your status in France you won't be able to access healthcare, you won't be able to declare your income correctly, there will be all kinds of complications not to mention the potentially very large fines.

As a resident you will pay your in France. Again, the process for doing this will depend on how you are registered. Once you no longer live nor work in the UK, then unless you have some source of income that under the France-UK tax agreement is always taxed in the UK (e.g. UK rental income, certain pensions) you won't pay any tax in the UK, you'll declare all your income in France (earned income, investment income etc). You can still get paid in sterling into a UK bank account but obviously you need to declare the income in euros, and the papertrail (invoices issued by you or payslips issued by your employer) has to show all the information required under French law, again you can potentially be fined for any non-conformities.

Presumably you have an EU passport that gives you the right to live and work in France, if not you would need to arrange your visa/work permit before you move.

Hope some of that helps, but the important thing is, do not just come to France and start working and earning money without being correctly declared and registered because it can turn into a can of worms trying to sort it all out further down the line.

Matthew -Parris-992373 1639492215

I would endorse everything the Mad Hatter has said but the most important thing is to establish if you will be allowed to move to France ie you must be an EU citizen or married to one otherwise you will need a Visa #

You can get help from the French Chamber of Commerce to set up a business or you could consider "portage salariale" which is like an umbrella company that will take care of your cotisations etc but obviously you pay a fee for this

Alice-Bugden -1017755 1639498494

Hi, thank you both for your help with this, I appreciate how complex it may be. I think my only option is to ask if the company can employ me, if not I will no longer work with them.  

I have two young children so won’t be looking for work in France for a few month until the children have settled. 

I will be moving for my partners job. He has just gained a role in France so we will be moving with him. What visa do I need to move? We only found out this week so just trying to figure it all out now! We are not married? Would it be easier to move if we were married? 

I have just applied for passports for the children so we can get visas for them as well. 

Mad-Hatter-1017809 1639502457

I have a feeling that you do need to be married to qualify for family reunion. I don't think you can apply for a spouse visa, which is what you need, if you are not married.This may help

If the UK company you work for has no establishment in France, this may help with the process for employing a French resident worker

but to be honest, many UK employers don't want to get involved with employing somebody in France because under French labour law workers have a lot more rights than they do in the UK, and it involves more obligations and more expense and more hassle for the employer.

Matthew -Parris-992373 1639567831

OK we know why you are wanting to move however you have raised more issues

If you are not married/civil partnership then you cannot get a spouse visa on the back of your partner moving to France for a job(his employer should be sorting and applying for his visa) Is your partner an EU national if so there is no problem with you moving with him if you are married visa free initially but then applying for a Carte de Sejour as the wife of an EU citizen If not then you are treated as a girlfriend irrespective of how long you have been together and you will need to apply for your own visa in your own right.The reason for this of course is that if your relationship breaks down France is left to pick up the tab In addition not being married brings problems with french inheritance law and inheritance tax a partner could end up paying 60% IHT So IMO you have two sensible alternatives if your current company will not register you in France-get your partner to research if they have an EU heritage that might enable them to get an EU passport AND seriously consider marriage or a civil partnership 

I hope that does help in some respects but since Brexit it has become more and more difficult 

Matthew -Parris-992373 1639567950

PS if you do get married then you could still go to France on the back of a spouse visa even if your partner has no EU heritage I do not think I made that part clear 

Mad-Hatter-1017809 1639582508

I think in fact, the UK business would only be able to employ you in France once you have your spouse visa, which will give you the right to work in France.

Until you have that, they won't be able to register you as an employee without first obtaining a work permit for you, and it's very unlikely that a UK business would manage to obtain a work permit in this situation.

If you want to accompany your partner I don't see that you can achieve that without getting marrked. Go on, you know you want to...

Mad-Hatter-1017809 1639582711

I don't see any alternative to getting married, TBH.

Unless you have a spouse visa the UK business wouldn't be able to employ you in France without obtaining a work permit for your first, and I greatly doubt that they would be able to do that.

Mad-Hatter-1017809 1639582725

I don't see any alternative to getting married, TBH.

Unless you have a spouse visa the UK business wouldn't be able to employ you in France without obtaining a work permit for your first, and I greatly doubt that they would be able to do that.

Mad-Hatter-1017809 1639582801

Oh for goodness sake - it keeps saying Oops something went wrong, and not showing my post. Now it's posted all 3 attempts, just when I was about to give up!

infoanglo-390497 1639646767

I have agree with most of Mad-Hatter-1017809 's comments in the first post.

However I  worked for a UK company for years while in France, and I think the comments above overly complicate things.

I worked through my own company in UK, since brexit there is no way you can sensibly be paid wages in UK and comply with French laws. The Uk company is NOT subject to French law and therefore does not have to get involved with French laaw in any way. My "pay" was paid to my company, which then transferred dividends to me. Tax was payable wherever I was. Setting up a UK company is very simple compared with any French set up.

petermjdavies 1639648829

Alicia - you need to take some expert advice... even though nice people are trying to help you.

1. You need to find out how to move to France legally with your partner.

2. You need to look at your UK tax situation. In France you will be considered resident if you spend more than 183 days here. The UK is different. There are other criteria. 

3. You need to understand how salaried, contracted, and self employed work in France. They are different.

4. You may have to fill out two different tax forms but there is a double taxation treaty in effect between the two companies so you will NOT pay twice. But there are complexities. French taxes are Jan - Dec while UK is April - March, for example.

Start with your immigration status AFTER BREXIT.

Mad-Hatter-1017809 1639650380

Yes, the OP should take advice;

French labour law does in fact apply to everyone who works on French soil. A UK or other foreign company who employs a worker in France is subject to exactly the same obligations as a French company who employs a worker in France. This is all made clear in the France-UK tax treaty and the French labour code. However, before Brexit it was quite easy for UK companies to dodge their legal obligations simply by keeping their heads beneath the radar, because Brits had freedom of movement and there were no systematic checks that they were following the rules. Occasionally they were picked up by random checks (I know this because part of my work was to provide translation / interpretation services for British companies who were under investigation by DIRECCTE for breaches of the French labour and social security codes) but I am sure many got away with it. The laws haven't changed, the obligations for foreign employers are the same but the only thing that's changed is that Brits have lost freedom of movement so they can no longer get away with it. If they were working in France prior to the end of transition but not legally declared they may have had trouble qualifying for a carte de séjour, and now they're subject to the 90/180 days Schengen restrictions so it's no longer possible to stay and work below the radar.

Alice-Bugden -1017755 1639652169

Thank you all for all your help, I think I’m beginning to understand the procedures, if I am look for legal expert advice where should I go for this? 

Me and my partner are engaged anyway so getting married is in the further plans anyway 

infoanglo-390497 1640276606

Working "below the radar" is not something we would do, certainly would not recommend it.  In your situation the simplest and probably the only thing to do is to have your own UK company getting paid for your work, and then your UK country paying dividends. All totally legal and above board. You pay tax in UK and then under the double taxation laws you will probably have to 'top up' tax in France since French taxes are higher than anywhere else. (Note French taxes include so called 'social charges' which some people like to pretend are not taxes).

Re advice I have found UK based accountants/lawyers provide the most helpful advice, and the language is easier.

Mad-Hatter-1017809 1640279571


From the tax treaty.


1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term “permanent
establishment” means a fixed place of business through which the business
of an enterprise is wholly or partly carried on.

2. The term “permanent establishment” includes especially:
(a) a place of management;
(b) a branch;
(c) an office; ...... etc.


1. The profits of an enterprise of a Contracting State shall be taxable
only in that State unless the enterprise carries on business in the other
Contracting State through a permanent establishment situated therein. If the
enterprise carries on business as aforesaid, the profits of the enterprise may
be taxed in the other State but only so much of them as is attributable to that
permanent establishment.

2. Subject to the provisions of paragraph 3, where an enterprise of a
Contracting State carries on business in the other Contracting State through
a permanent establishment situated therein, there shall in each Contracting
State be attributed to that permanent establishment the profits which it might
be expected to make if it were a distinct and separate enterprise engaged in
the same or similar activities under the same or similar conditions and
dealing wholly independently with the enterprise of which it is a permanent


So I am wondering firstly, how a person living permanently in France and carrying on their business there, can claim not to have a place of business there; and secondly, accepting that they have an establishment in France, why Article 7 does not apply to them?

As a court interpreter/translator I have been involved in so many tax investigations and prosecutions where Brits thought (sometimes following bad advice from UK accountants) they could operate in France as a UK company and pay no tax in France. Some got away with it for years. But once the investigation started, it tended to end badly. There were actually cases where I thought the fisc were being unfair and it was very dubious whether there was a permanent establishment, but if they have decided there is, it isn't easy to change their mind. If you engage in economically activity in France on a regular basis and you have an office and a computer and a phone, that seems to be enough for them.

Mad-Hatter-1017809 1640335168

This is a better explanation

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