Becoming a freelancer in France

How to Get Your Visa to Work In France ? [Self-Employed Edition]

How to Get Your Visa to Work In France ? [Self-Employed Edition]

Nom de l'auteur

By

Kezia Varde

With an expertise in business law, Kezia specialized in accompanying small businesses and freelancers in their entrepreneurial journey

Published on

10/13/2023

-

Updated on

12/21/2023

Do you plan to come to live and launch your business in France soon ? If you find yourself in that description, congratulations!

You have laid the groundwork for your future success.

However, working in France as a foreign freelance entrepreneur can bring its share of administrative complications. 

And France is not a country known for simplifying paperwork ! On the contrary, the required type of visa to work in France can be a source of stress for any entrepreneur desiring to settle in France.

If you want to know everything concerning the work permit and visa you need as a freelancer in France, this article is for you.

How to require your work permit as a foreign freelancer in France

First, to start the process of becoming self-employed in France you will probably have to ask for a work permit to get your visa and start your company in France. Before you engage in the layers of the French administrative labyrinth, you must assess the situation of your business.

You are a newcomer

If this is your first business, you must prove the viability of your company. That means that you must check the following elements:

  • Your project is technically feasible in France
  • You have carried out market research on the sector related to your company in France
  • Your company has already a sufficient visibility in several distribution and communication channels
  • Your project is financially balanced: forecasted balance sheets and income statements, existing and forecasted cash flows…

You are a seasoned entrepreneur

If you already have an existing company, you must produce evidence that your income equals the minimum wage per annum in France. As of 1st May 2022, the annual gross minimum wage in France is €15,943.20. 

What to prepare ? Prepare your last three tax reports to justify your revenue to the French authorities if need be.

Request your work permit with the French authorities

Depending on your citizenship, the next step is to know how to get a work permit in France as a foreign freelancer. In your position, you may ask for the temporary work permit (travailleur temporaire) which lasts one year. 

When?

The request for a work permit must be done at least two months before the forecasted start date of your activity in France.

How?

Once you have assessed the state of your company, you can connect to the French Home Secretary’s website: administration-etrangers-en-france.interieur.gouv.fr and fill-in an online application. 

Most of your visa process will be online, prepare a scan version of all your documents

The good news

In case you need regular breaks to complete your application, you will be happy to know that all the information you enter are saved at each step of your application, for 14 days (but if you want to play smarter - not longer - you can download the complete checklist of all the documents you will need for your application).  

Be careful

If you request a work permit in an overseas department or region (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Reunion, and French Guiana), your work permit will be valid only in that department.

You must apply for your work permit with the following documents :

  • A copy of an identity document (ID card, passport)
  • Your last tax reports showcasing your revenues
  • An up-to-date excerpt of the commercial register for legal entities, sole proprietors, or a craft license (titre d’artisan)
  • A management mandate filled in and signed
  • A résumé showing your skills and qualifications
  • A copy of any qualifications or certificates required for the occupation if need be
  • Proof that the required regulatory conditions are met in case of regulated occupations (e.g., lawyer, certified public accountant, health professions…)
  • The applicable work permit application form

Once you have filled in your request online, you can download the document confirming your deposit with the French authorities.

This document will also be sent to your email address. Once your request is examined by the authorities, you will be informed of the result by a formal mail.

Please note that you can potentially pay a special tax as a self-employed person if you come to France for the first time.

In any case, don’t hesitate to ask for more information to the French Home Secretary Office according to your situation.

The steps to request for your work permit

A work permit is necessary to get your long-stay visa and carry out a business in France as a freelancer, especially if you are a non-EU citizen. That’s why you must be compliant with this document and request it as soon as possible. 

Whenever you want to settle in France as a freelancer do not miss this step

Here is where you have to go on the government website to start your request process

Prepare and scan all the documents you need in advance and follow the following steps:

  • Get all your documents ready and scan them if necessary 
  • Go on the website: administration-etrangers-en-france.interieur.gouv.fr
  • Click on ‘I would like to apply for a work permit” 
  • After you click, you’ll have three choices. Click on “I request a notice for my business project” (je sollicite un avis sur mon projet CST entrepreneur / profession libérale). 
  • You will land on an informative page and can click on the button “Je commence” in the right corner when you scroll down the page. 
  • Fill in your information related to your identity, contact information and your business online
  • Join the justifying documentation 
  • Validate your work permit request
  • Get your receipt

Good to know : whether you are planning on becoming an auto-entrepreneur, creating your own business structure or relying on portage salarial for your legal status, you will always be considered as an independent worker.

Which visa for whom?

Now that you have filed your request for work permit, you may ask for a visa to work in France. As a foreign freelancer, you must examine the three following situations, according to your citizenship.

You are a EU citizen

EU citizens, EEA citizens as well as Swiss citizens are exempt from getting visas to work in France. Therefore, you can carry out your freelance business like any French citizen in this country.

You are a non-EU citizen

If you are a non-EU citizen, you will have to request a long-stay visa (VLS-TS) to work in France as a foreign freelancer, except for citizens from Monaco, Andorra, the Vatican, and San Marino. Thus, you can work in France up to 12 months and create your freelance business. If you want to live in France after your first year, you must request a residence permit.

You are from the United Kingdom

Are you a British citizen launching your freelance activity in France? The post-Brexit transition period expired on December 31st, 2020. 

If you resided in France before January 1st, 20021, you will be able to perform your freelance activity without asking for a visa or work permit. However, if you want to reside in France after January 1st, 2021, you will have to apply for a work permit and a visa like any other non-EU citizen.

Where can you ask for your work visa?

Foreign freelancers can deposit their visa requests at the French diplomatic or consular offices located in their countries. 

Make yourself a favor and be sure to have a checklist of all your requested documents to forget nothing

What documents should you produce for your visa request?

The request for a work visa must be carried out at least three months before the forecasted arrival date in France.  You must produce the following supporting documents:

  • A valid passport
  • The dedicated visa application form filled in and signed through France Visas
  • The OFII application form
  • Two photographs compliant with OACI recommendations
  • Supporting documents related to your situation (e.g., work permit application)

You may also be summoned for a medical check within the three months following your arrival in France.

How much does a visa cost?

A long-stay visa in France costs €99, but it is free for the spouses of French citizens. If you want to have more precisions about your individual case, don’t hesitate to visit France Visas’ website: france-visas.gouv.fr.

Now you know everything about the obtention of a visa to work in France as a foreign freelancer. 

Little tip : make sure you have enough cash on you on the day of your appointment to prevent any card issue

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