Foreigner in France: can I be self-employed “auto-entrepreneur” ?


auto-entrepreneurDo you have the right to create an auto-entrepreneur status (self-employed) as a foreigner who wants to work in France? If so, under what conditions? What if you are a student? The answers to these questions depend mainly on your residence permit.

Let’s take a closer look at the different possibilities available to you to create your auto-entrepreneur (micro-entrepreneur) status in France.

Note that you cannot request a change of status if you have not already requested the renewal of your residence permit at least once. You can request the status change from the second VLS VTS.

1. Self-employed and foreigner. What are the conditions ?

You can create your self-employed “auto-entrepreneur” status freely if you are a European national (country of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland), or if you are a national of another country in the world with a title residence permit which authorizes you to carry out a self-employed activity in France. Clearly, you do not have to take any special steps with the prefecture if you are:

  • A European national (EU, EEA or Switzerland), whether you have a residence permit or not. Indeed, as a European, the residence permit is not compulsory (but you can still apply for it)
  • A non-European national and if you have one of these residence permits:
    • A resident card
    • A long-term resident card – EU
    • A permanent resident
    • card A private and family life residence card
    • A talent passport with the mention “business creation” 
    • An APS (Temporary residence permit for students, under certain conditions)

2 How to prepare your application for an “entrepreneur / liberal”

Since 2016, it is possible for a foreigner to apply for a temporary residence permit with the specific mention “entrepreneur / liberal” (or “liberal entrepreneur” residence permit) to create its auto-entrepreneur status (micro-entrepreneur). It allows the practice of commercial, industrial, craft, agricultural or liberal activities, and has a term of up to one year.

If you live in France and if your residence permit does not authorize the exercise of a self-employed “auto-entrepreneur” activity, such as the “employee”, “artist” or “student” residence permits, you will therefore have to request a change of status to obtain this type of residence permit.

2.1 The conditions to be fulfilled.

  • To benefit from this residence permit, you must be able to show that your future activity is viable and will allow you to have sufficient income to live in France and sustain yourself. Your income must be higher than the minimum wage. I recommend getting at least 1500 euros monthly.
  • Your activity must be “safe” and not disturb public peace.
  • You must respect the obligations related to your activity (if it requires for example certain diplomas, or levels of professional experience)
  • You must not have been the subject of a conviction or ban from practicing.

2.2 The procedure to follow

  • Schedule a meeting at your prefecture with the following documents (the original and a copy for each of them), in French:
    • Your current residence permit and your valid passport
    • Proof of address of less than 3 months (one rental agreement, a deed of ownership or an accommodation certificate with the proof of address of the person hosting you and a copy of both sides of their identity document)
    • The application form for a temporary residence card (cerfa 13473)
    • If you have resided in another country for the past 10 years, a sworn statement of non-conviction in these countries and a sworn statement of non-bankruptcy (also for the country of origin if it is not part of countries in which you have resided for the past 10 years).
    • A document that certifies that you are up to date with the various taxes that you must pay (this is called “bordereau de situation – or tax status slip).
    • Documents that justify your ability to carry out the desired activity. Generally, a presentation of your business plan is requested (business model and annual budget estimate)
    • 3 identity photos
    • > For more information, here is the detailed list of documents to be provided.
    • If your file is complete, you will then be given a receipt for your residence permit. This receipt does not authorize you to set up your business.
    • If you receive a new receipt with a favorable decision from the prefect, then you get your temporary residence permit and you can set up your business.

2.3 What to do when the “entrepreneur / liberal” residence permit expires?

At the end of the first year, if you continue to fulfill the conditions necessary to obtain the “entrepreneur / liberal” residence permit for the first time, that is to say if you continue to have an economically viable activity which allows you to have sufficient income to live, you can apply for a multi-year residence permit for a period of 4 years!

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