Here’s how you can work in France using a long-stay visa, so you can make your dream of working from a French villa a reality, by Diana Nyerges
Question: Everybody I talk to seems to give me different advice. Please can you clarify whether I am allowed to live in France on a visitor’s visa and work for overseas clients?
This is a question we are frequently asked and it is easy to understand your frustration! The reason it is so hard to find out accurate information from talking to other people is that everybody’s situation is different, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. However, there are fixed rules when it comes to visas and that’s where you will find your answer. Basically, the type of visa you apply for depends on what you are intending to do when you arrive in France.
If you are not planning to work at all and will not be receiving a salary of any sort within France, the simple long-stay visitor’s visa is all you need. It allows you to stay for a year, at the end of which you can apply for health cover and a carte de séjour if you intend to make France your home.
If you are planning to work in France, you will need a business visa and there are many different types depending on your circumstances. For example, you may want to set up your own company, or move your company to France, or perhaps the company you work for is relocating you to France. If you fall into any of those categories, it’s a good idea to get good advice from a barrister or lawyer to make sure you have the correct legal documentation. At French Connections HCB, we work with trusted legal partners in those instances.
However, your question specifically asks about working for non-French clients, and that is an important distinction.
The good news is that the simple long-stay visitor’s visa is perfect for people who are working in the UK or the US, for instance, and whose employer is happy for them to work remotely from France. There are a couple of provisos, of course (this is France, after all!)
You cannot work out of an office, be it your own or anybody else’s. You need to be working from the comfort of your own home to stay within the regulations.
You cannot have meetings with any clients here in France. And you cannot receive any sort of salary within France. As long as you fulfil those conditions, yes, you can live in France and continue to work for a company outside of France.
Question: Can I enrol in the French social security system while working remotely in France for a non-French employer?
No, I’m afraid not. That’s simply because you cannot belong to two social security systems in two different countries at the same time. In practical terms, you’ll need private insurance to cover the length of your visa.
We are sometimes asked why people are allowed to work remotely for non-French companies when the laws covering working in France are so strict. It all comes down to the nature of freelance work. Whether you are freelancing out of the UK or the US, you are obliged to pay tax somewhere.
Question: What if I decide I’d like to work for clients within France?
In that case, the rules change dramatically and you will need to apply for an entrepreneur visa and set up as a micro-entrepreneur, which is how freelancers are described in France. Becoming a micro-entrepreneur is not too complicated but you must make sure that your type of work falls within a very specific list of businesses permitted in France.
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