Guide to Starting your Freelance Career in France

Written by Xolo
on July 07, 2022 5 minute read

Are you looking for a great way to earn a living doing what you love in France? Whether you are relocating to the country soon or you have already been enjoying all that France offers, doing freelance in France comes with many perks. For example, you can work in your desired field and earn a great living in the process. You can also set your own hours and rates. Whether you are a developer, a website designer or something else, there are a few important steps that you need to take before you become a freelancer or open a freelance business in France.

What’s the Best Way to Start Freelancing in France?

Before you become self-employed in France, you need to consider what it takes to start your business. Do you already have experience in the work activities that you plan to do? Do you have the proper certifications or education required? If not, now is the perfect time to pull together all of the credentials that you may need for success when you freelance in France.

You also need to consider how much money it will take to start your business. There may be upfront costs to set up the business as well as operational costs. For example, as you ramp up your business and before you can enjoy a full income, you may have to pay for your website, marketing and more.

Whether you are a foreigner or an established resident in France, you should prepare a business plan. Your business plan will cover all of these factors. It will also touch on other factors, such as how much you plan to charge for your freelancing activities, who your competition is and more. When you have all of the facts in front of you, you can walk through the setup process with complete confidence.

How to Register to Freelance in France

Before you register to work as a freelancer in France, spend a few minutes learning about registration requirements. For example, if you will spend fewer than six months working as a freelancer in France each year and France is not your primary residence, you may not need to register as a freelancer. However, if you own property in France, you may still need to register even if you spend time living abroad for a portion of the year.

Registering to work as a freelancer in France can be done in seven easy steps:

  1. Obtain the necessary work and residence visas, if applicable.
  2. Select the right CFE, or Centre de Formalités des Entreprises, which is appropriate for your desired business activity.
  3. Send the registration form to the CFE that you have selected.
  4. Provide all of the required documentation to formally register your business. This includes a copy of your passport or government-issued ID card and proof of insurance.
  5. If you plan to sell goods, you must also complete a separate form to send to the Registre Special des Agents Commerciaux. Otherwise, you must submit a registration form to the Repertoire des Metiers. Once you have registered your business, you will receive several identifying numbers, including APE, SIRET and SIREN.
  6. Complete the training course offered through the Chambres de Métiers et de l’Artisanat.
  7. Some types of businesses are regulated. Search for your business type through APCE to learn about regulated activities and how to register your specific activity.

Legal Status to Choose to Become a Freelancer in France

There are three primary legal types to consider as you set up your freelance business in France. A sole proprietor is essentially a self-employed individual who does not have employees. This is the least complex entity to consider, and it does not require you to file a separate business tax return. This business type, as well as the others that will be discussed, must comply with the SSI requirements. This includes registering with the Securite Social des Independants, declaring income annually and making regular contributions. By doing so, you can take advantage of family allowances, health and maternity coverage and a pension.

The other two legal types to consider are societies a responsabilite limitee (SARL) and enterprises unipersonnelle a responsabilite limitee (EURL). SARL is a limited liability company that may have multiple directors. EURL is an LLC with a single director. These entities require you to file separate business tax returns.

How to Pay Taxes When You Freelance in France

In addition to making your social security contributions, you must pay taxes on your income. If you choose to set up your business as a sole proprietor, you will disclose your freelance income on your personal tax return. This means that you will pay the personal income tax rate. The tax scheme is progressive, and the highest tax rate is 45%. Keep in mind that you can receive some tax credits, but you cannot deduct expenses.

Are you interested in setting up your business as a SARL? If this is the case, you can claim your income on your personal tax return for the first five years. Afterward, you must file a corporate tax return and will be taxed at the appropriate corporate rate. On the other hand, if you choose to start your business as an EURL, you will need to file a corporate tax return for your business and pay the corporate tax rate. The corporate tax rate is 26.5%. You can deduct business expenses when you file a corporate tax return.

How to Invoice Your Clients as a Freelancer in France

Staying compliant with France’s rules and regulations is essential, and this includes preparing invoices for each sale. An invoice, which is also known as a facture, must have several specific details. These are the date of the sale and the date the invoice was issued. Details also include the price per item, the total amount charged, the VAT amount and rate, the customer’s name and address, your company name and qualifications, the SIREN number and details about your insurance policy. You should not need to wait long to get paid because all invoices in France are payable within 30 days.

Are you interested in running your France freelance business from abroad? Your invoices must have these same details. They can be provided to the client digitally for your convenience.

How to Find Freelance Jobs and Clients in France

Are you ready to start freelancing? The strategies that you use to find freelance work in France will depend specifically on the type of work that you do. However, there are some general marketing efforts that you may consider, such as developing a website that is search engine optimized and taking advantage of social media marketing. Some freelancers may be able to find work through online job boards. Others may need to use marketing methods like postcards or other mailers. Once you start serving customers, you may develop regular customers who turn to you for all of their related needs.

How to Open your Freelance Business in France

While becoming a freelancer in France is a fairly straightforward process, there are a variety of steps that require your attention. What should you do to start a freelance business in this country?

  1. Apply for the necessary visas if you are a foreigner who plans to freelance in France.
  2. Follow the steps listed above to properly register your business in France.
  3. If you plan to operate your business as a SARL or EURL, you must prepare the necessary paperwork to formally establish the entity.
  4. Register to make social security contributions.
  5. Set up a template for your invoices, or use a convenient solution like Xolo Go.
  6. Create a system to track income and expenses.
  7. Research insurance requirements, and purchase insurance if it is required.
  8. Start searching for jobs and clients.


Did you know that you can run a freelance business in France from Estonia or from any other country? Through Xolo Leap, you can receive the full support and services necessary to set up your Estonian business even from France. Continued support is available to help you manage invoices and tackle other day-to-day tasks.

Start Freelancing in France Today

Opening a freelance business in France may be one of the best moves that you have made in a while. At Xolo, we want to help you get your business up and running easily. More than that, we want to support you with its daily operations by providing you with essential financial management solutions. Set up your own self-employed business with Xolo Leap today!

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