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Auto-Entrepreneur Business Registration

Setting up as an auto-entrepreneur in France used to be a very easy and inexpensive process, but it is beginning to lose some of that imperative.

Until recently, the simplicity of the formalities of business creation for auto-entrepreneurs has been one of the guiding design principles of this business status.

All that was required was to go to the official government website and complete the on-line application form for inclusion on to the Registre National des Entreprises (RNE), the national business register.

Once completed (including copy passport) you would be given a business number and you could start your business. No fees and no fuss.

Since last year that process has been replaced by the need to register with one of three official trade centres, a process that requires far greater effort.

The register and the registration centre (generically called 'Centres de Formalités des Entreprises - CFE') depends on the nature of your activity, as follows:

ArtisanRépertoire des Métiers (RM)
Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat (CMA).
Commercial Sales
Registre du Commerce et des Sociétés (RCS)Chambre du Commerce et de l'Industrie (CCI)
Sales Agent
Registre Spécial des Agents Commerciaux (RSAC)Tribunal de Commerce (Greffe)

Those in one of the professions libérales, affiliated to the Caisse Nationale d'Assurance Vieillesse des Professions Libérales (CIPAV), are not affected by this new requirement; their registration process remains unchanged.

If you are to be in one of the professions libérales send your application to URSSAF, the social security collections agency, although many local Chambre de Commerce are able to assist.

Indeed, whichever registration formalities you need to accomplish you are probably best advised to first make contact with your local 'Chambre', as in many departments the whole process can be accomplished through them, and their advice on a range of issues can be most useful.

All those setting up as an auto-entrepreneur in 2015 have already been obliged to undertake this 'immatriculation' process, but the requirement is retroactive and existing auto-entrepreneurs were given until 19th December to register with their CFE.

According to Grégoire Leclercq, President of the Fédération des Autoentrepreneurs (FEDAE), the process is by no means self-evident; "La démarche est censée être simple et gratuite; en réalité elle se révèle assez compliquée. C’est un retour en arrière", he has stated.

It has been introduced directly as a result of pressure from the building trades associations, who considered that there were not enough controls on the registration process for auto-entrepreneurs.

One of the key aspects of the new registration process is that it requires those engaged in a 'regulated' business activity to provide proof of qualifications or relevant experience.

There are very many business activities of this nature, although in the vast majority of cases the entry requirements are not substantial. Somewhat ironically, the government have also recently indicated that some activities will be deregulated in order to free up new business creation.

The registration process can be done by post or via the web, but in practice many will need to actually do it manually, with a visit to the local registration centre (which may not, incidentally, be very 'local').

Although in theory registration is à priori free of charge, a number of the centres impose a fee for assistance with the formalities. The Greffe do impose an obligatory token charge.

If you happen to be registering as an artisan you will also be required to attend a training course lasting 30 hours on running a business, organised by the chambre, which will cost around €200. However, if you can provide appropriate evidence of business experience and qualifications, there is an automatic exemption from this course.

Since 2015 all auto-entrepreneurs have also been required to pay a charge towards the running costs of the registration centres, called the taxe pour frais de chambre.

In fairness, the level of the contribution is not large; it is a percentage of turnover, which differs by business activity, as follows:

  • Services Business - 0.044%
  • Services Artisans - 0.48%
  • Sales, restaurants and furnished accommodation - 0.015%
  • Sales Artisans - 0.22%
  • CCI & CMA affiliated artisans - 0.007%

(Slightly different rates apply for Alsace and Moselle).

The contributions are payable on a monthly or quarterly basis, alongside payment of the cotisations sociales.

If you seek assistance in the registration process you can contact us at editor@french-property.com and we shall endeavour to help.

Related Reading:

This article was featured in our Newsletter dated 06/01/2016

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