4. Business Activities and Professions in France

  1. Business Professions
  2. Regulated Activities
  3. Artisan Business Activities
  4. Profession Libérale Business Activities

4.3. Artisan Business Activities

The current legal definition of an 'artisan' dates from 1996, and covers a person or company employing less than 10 people engaged in 'an independent professional activity of production, processing, repair or provision of services.'

In the legislation this is expressed as 'une activité professionnelle indépendante de production, de transformation, de réparation ou de prestation de service'.

There are around 250 artisanale activities, which can be divided into four main categories:

i. Food Processing

As well as the manufacture of food and drink products, this category includes the retail sale of meat and fish in specialist stores and on market stalls.

  • Manufacture of food products;
  • Meat processing and preparation of meat products;
  • Preservation and transformation of seafood products;
  • Retail sale of meat and fish products;
  • Preservation and processing of fruits and vegetables;
  • Manufacture of water, beverages, wines and spirits;
  • Catering;
  • Special food retail store.

ii. Building and Construction

As might be expected all building trades are covered here, but it also includes alarm installation, civil engineering, mining and quarrying.

  • Internal decoration;
  • Roofing;
  • Plumbing and heating;
  • Masonry and related activities;
  • Painting;
  • Plastering;
  • Joinery and locksmith;
  • Carpet and floor laying;
  • Site preparation and excavation;
  • Electrician;
  • Telecoms engineer;
  • Mining and quarrying.

iii. Manufacturing

The whole range of small scale manufacturing activities, other than food, are contained within this category, eg textiles, furniture, clothes, machinery, printing.

  • Manufacture of textiles;
  • Medical, precision and optical instruments, glasses and photographic equipment;
  • Manufacturer of musical instruments;
  • Manufacturer and repair of watches and jewellery;
  • Manufacturer and repair computer and electrical products;
  • Manufacturer and repair of furniture;
  • Stone masonry;
  • Manufacturer and conversion of metals, chemical products, rubber, plastic and construction materials;
  • Commercial printing and binding;
  • Recycling;
  • Taxidermist;
  • Manufacture of clothing;
  • Leather work and shoe manufacture;
  • Glass and ceramics fabrication.

iv. Services

Finally, there is the category of 'services', which includes repair and maintenance of vehicles, florist, removals, taxi, hairdressing, antique restoration, cleaning, and beauty care.

  • Ambulance services;
  • Laundry and dry-cleaners;
  • Hairdressing;
  • Flower and floral composition;
  • Vehicle road-worthiness testing;
  • Shoe and leather repairs;
  • House removals;
  • Funeral services;
  • Repair of office and IT equipment;
  • Window displays;
  • Furniture restoration;
  • Blacksmith;
  • Poster hanging;
  • Packaging;
  • Chimney sweeping;
  • Septic tank maintenance;
  • Pest control;
  • Repair of cars, cycles and motorcycles;
  • Roadside assistance;
  • General building cleaning services;
  • Art restoration;
  • Puppets shows;
  • Skin care;
  • Taxis;
  • Pet grooming;
  • Photography work;
  • Car rental.

Regulated Activities

Regulations provide for how to become an 'artisan' in France for those relocating from within the European Community.

The regulations implement a European directive dating from 2005 on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications in order to give greater freedom to establish a business in any country in the EU.

The framework makes a distinction between those professions where access is restricted by an appropriate qualification or experience, and those where there are no restrictions on exercising the business activity in France

Where the artisanal activity is not ‘regulated’, then no major formalities are required, other than to register with the local Chambre de métiers et de l'artisanat .

This requirement to register the business applies to whatever type of business structure that is adopted, whether micro-entrepreneur or limited company.

In relation to 'regulated' business activities the requirement is for a relevant professional qualification, or at least three years experience during the past 10 years.

In such cases, as part of the business registration process, you will need to complete the form “justification de qualification professionnelle artisanale - JPQA.

If the activity is regulated in your home country a certificate is also required confirming that you are entitled to exercise the activity in your country.

These documents normally need to be translated into French and certified by a qualified and registered translator, although, strictly speaking, under EU regulations this is not obligatory.

The Chambre de Metiers is granted the right to examine the qualification in detail to establish whether the level of competence established by it is sufficient to give access to the profession in France, as occurs with even a French national seeking to register as an artisan.

The regulations make no mention of any language requirement, although the commercial reality of things is that few expats who relocate to France to run their own business are unlikely to be able to do so successfully without at least a reasonable knowledge of the language.

In practice, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the local Chambres do vary substantially in their approach to the verification of qualifications and experience, although since 2017 it has been tightened up.

Part of the problem in contained in the original legislation dating from 1996 on access to regulated artisanal professions, where it provides that the activities can be carried out by a person not holding the relevant qualifications or experience, provided it occurs under the permanent and direct control and of a person who is qualified.

However, in the absence of such a supervisory structure, then where registration takes place without the access requirements having been met it may not be possible to obtain professional indemnity insurance, or the insurer may refuse to pay out in the event of a claim on the policy. The Chambre de Metiers have the right to request evidence of professional insurance cover at the time of business registration.

The main artisanal professions that are regulated in France are: hairdresser, taxi driver, ambulance operator, MOT technician, car repairs, construction, repairs and renovation of buildings, plumber, heating engineer, electrician, gas installer, chimney sweep, baker, butcher, fishmonger, ice cream maker, and blacksmith.

Next: 'Profession Libérale' Business Activities

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