Setting up in France
Thread poster: MandyT

MandyT  Identity Verified
English to German
May 23, 2004


I wonder whether you could give me some advice. I (German national) have been working as an in-house translator and part-time freelance translator in the UK for the past 5 years. Now, I am planning to relocate to France to work as a freelance translator full-time.

Unfortunately, I don't really have any ideas on how to go about it.

Do I have to register somewhere? Can I work straight away when getting to France or do I need to register first? How do I pay social contributions and how much tax do I pay on my income?

Any information is greatly appreciated.




Anjo Sterringa  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:54
Member (2003)
English to Dutch
+ ...
answers on a website May 25, 2004

Prozians must be anti-France or the French Prozians do not read the forums ...

Here is a VERY useful link though about free-lancing in France with many other links:
(profession liberale / travailleur independant)
"It's very easy to establish ....... just pop down to the local URSSAF office and it takes 5 minutes. They give you a form saying you've applied and the final SIRET number etc. arrives in a couple of weeks.

You are 100% responsible for debts, like sole trader or partnership in UK.

The social costs are at a reduced rate in year 1, then are a % based on activity."

- La catégoriees des professions libérales "non réglementées" regroupe toutes les professions qui exercent une activité ni commerciale, ni artisanale, ni industrielle, ni agricole et qui n'entrent pas dans le domaine des professions libérales réglementées. Il s'agit des consultants, formateurs, experts, traducteurs...icon_smile.gificon_smile.gif (that's us - or perhaps only if you are translating books...)

Les termes "freelance", "solo", ou encore "indépendant", sont utilisés couramment pour désigner un professionnel exerçant seul, en toute indépendance, un métier jusqu'ici traditionnellement exercé en tant que salarié : consultant, informaticien, formateur, graphiste, technicien, traducteur...

[Edited at 2004-05-25 22:58]


Anjo Sterringa  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:54
Member (2003)
English to Dutch
+ ...
You are right of course - and it is not expensive! May 26, 2004

Of course you are right, there is a lot of info in the Proz link and you will find even some translators living in France you might drop a line for more info.... (needless to say I had not read it yet!)

Let me add that it sounds cheap compared to setting up in Spain, where you pay EUR 2700 a year just for Social Security (standard rate based on lowest 'income')...

I might move to France after all then!


MandyT  Identity Verified
English to German
Thank you May 26, 2004

Dear Anjo,

Thanks very much for your reply and the link. I will have a good read and hopefully it will answer all my questions. The only thing I am bit worried about is, as to whether I can actually already work before I am properly registered. Does this form, you mentioned, allow me to work freelance until I get this final SIRET number?

A big thankyou to Spain!!



Nicolette Ri (X)
Local time: 14:54
French to Dutch
+ ...
Normally May 27, 2004

It is unlegal to work without being registered, social charges (URSSAF etc.) are compulsory. When you begin, you have a month or two to complete your registration (you have just to state on your invoices: "Enregistrement à l'URSSAF en cours". There are some problems, though: URSSAF will ask you if you are tax-registered and the tax office will ask you to register at URSSAF first. And as long as you are not registered, French clients are very reluctant to give you work, they are just not allowed to (and severely punished in case of control).
It isn't really cheap either: 45 - 55% of your income will disappear in "charges sociales" and "impôts". That's one of the reasons why we have such high rates. Working below 0,12 €/word is suicidary at the long run. You can ask for more information at the SFT:

Good luck !


cvaudry (X)
French to English
book May 28, 2004

I recommend the book "Les Carnets du Solo" by M. Paysant. I found it to be an excellent source of information (and reassurance) when I changed my activity and became an independent translator.
I have learned to hate administration (bad and expensive experiences in the past) and the book made the whole process bearable. (Try and find a helpful and friendly person at URSSAF who will answer your questions and you will see what I mean! Or maybe I've just been especially unlucky over the past 4 years) I read the book and stopped worrying that by ticking the wrong box on an incomprehensible form I would be costing myslf a fortune.
However, I know that there are some people out there who sail through the administration with no problems at all! You may be one of those lucky people !
As far as I know the book is not on Amazon but you could try the site "freelance en europe".
ps I have absolutely no connection with the author !

Good luck


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