No URSAAF / SIRET - Can I still get paid?
Thread poster: Caroline Schutte-Goby

Caroline Schutte-Goby
United States
Local time: 04:57
French to English
May 1

Hello all,

I'll cut right to the chase. I did a translation for a university in France a few years ago when I was just starting out as a freelancer. I mistakenly didn't ask for a down payment and once it came down to payment, the accountant told me that I had to provide a URSAAF and SIRET number, otherwise she could not pay me. I don't believe this is true, I think she just didn't know how to pay a foreign company.

Now that I have created a legitimate business based in the US, I plan on contacting her again and claiming my right to payment - any advice on what I should say to her? I know someone has had to have billed a French entity and been paid without having these two numbers to give them.

Thanks for your advice!

Caroline


 

Armine Abelyan
Armenia
Local time: 13:57
Member (2017)
English to Armenian
+ ...
always a way to be paid May 1

Hello Caroline,
there is always a way to be paid.
The accountant may have this right to ask you SIRET or anything other but it should be set up before to start to work with you. The payment conditions should be clarified before with the freelancer in order to include that in your agreement as well.

I think that you may contact anyway your client to set up the conditions and clarify the non payment issue that happens too much with the freelancers.

www.translations.am


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Typical French bureaucracy May 1

Of course you only need a French SIRET number and URSSAF (not URSAAF) registration if you are established in France, but many French bureaucrats only know the most basic rules for anything and just say no to anything they don't understand (a lot!) instead of looking into it. I hate to generalise, but this is my experience from 15 years in France.

You would need to have been working legally as a freelancer in the country where you were at the time. It varies which obligations different countries impose on freelancers.

You don't say where you were registered and resident when you provided the work to them. Any changes since then are probably irrelevant. You have a company in the US, but are resident in Madagascar now?

In the case of French bureaucracy, it may help to escalate it in the internal hierarchy by addressing a letter to whomever is at this top of this particular pile of bureaucrats, but don't expect any miracles.

You could also write directly to the Ministry of Education.

If that doesn't help, it is possible that the French equivalent to a government ombudsman, the Défenseur des Droits can help you.


 

nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:57
English to French
+ ...
yes and no May 2

A French university may contract with a French or EU resident quite easily. But if the supplier is outside EU it might need some specific procedure and authorization. Of course it is better to clarify this before working with them. I suppose nobody was aware of your situation at the moment (where were you registered?) and the usual accountant could not solve the matter.
Did you have a written contrat/agreement/PO form the university? Did you send a proper invoice, with all the relevant information (including your business name and address)?
How much is "a few years ago " ? The limitation period is 5 years between private companies, 2 years between a company and a private person.
Anyway only your status at the time of the job is relevant. If the period is not too long ago you can contact the head of the accountant department


 

Nikolaus Weimann
Switzerland
Local time: 10:57
English to German
+ ...
We need to know if you actually lived in France at the you did the translation. May 2

in case you lived in France when you did the translation there would have been a legal problem. If you were already established as a translator in another country you should have got paid.

Caroline Schutte-Goby wrote:

Hello all,

I'll cut right to the chase. I did a translation for a university in France a few years ago when I was just starting out as a freelancer. I mistakenly didn't ask for a down payment and once it came down to payment, the accountant told me that I had to provide a URSAAF and SIRET number, otherwise she could not pay me. I don't believe this is true, I think she just didn't know how to pay a foreign company.

Now that I have created a legitimate business based in the US, I plan on contacting her again and claiming my right to payment - any advice on what I should say to her? I know someone has had to have billed a French entity and been paid without having these two numbers to give them.

Thanks for your advice!

Caroline


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:57
French to English
Similar question here a year or so ago. May 2

There was an almost identical question on this forum last year, if my memory serves me right.

As others have said, both you and the university ought to have sorted this out beforehand. I also agree with the others that as long as you had some form of legal business structure at the time when the work was done, then you may be able to issue an invoice for payment. The university is clearly wrong in basing its refusal to pay you on the fact that you had no business structure in France (the SIRET number, etc.). You could technically have a business structure in another country and they would still have to pay. However, the university may have the right to refuse to pay you now as you may simply be out of time.

There are a number of other rules and regulations that may make this very difficult to be paid, not least the fact that you say the work was done a number of years ago:
- the basic rule is that an invoice has to be provided to the client when you complete the work (or supply the goods);
- if you supply a number of services (or goods) over a period of time, you can invoice the client at the end of a month, for example. These are "factures périodiques" or "récapitulatives".

https://www.service-public.fr/professionnels-entreprises/vosdroits/F23208

"Une facture doit être délivrée dès la réalisation de la vente (c'est-à-dire, en principe, au plus tard à la livraison de la marchandise) ou dès la prestation du service.

Un différé de 15 jours de la facturation peut être admis pour les nécessités de la gestion administrative des entreprises.

La facturation peut être établie de manière périodique pour plusieurs livraisons de biens ou prestations de services distinctes réalisées au profit d'un même client pour lesquelles la taxe devient exigible au cours d'un même mois civil. Cette facture périodique ou récapitulative doit être établie au plus tard à la fin de ce même mois : le délai de facturation ne peut pas dépasser un mois.

La date d'émission de la facture fait partie des mentions obligatoires.

À savoir :

les originaux ou les copies des factures doivent être conservés pendant 10 ans à partir de la vente ou de la prestation de service."

If you actually only have 15 days within which to present an invoice, you are way out of time.

You are now at the stage that you need to find out whether you are entitled to issue an invoice a few years down the line.
Just one quick point to make, by the way, about the university's obligations : current law indicates that the client has to request an invoice. If that was the case, then the university should have asked for one if you did not provide one with when you completed the job. Does that entitle you to submit an invoice several years later? I don't know.

This source may help:

https://www.economie.gouv.fr/dgccrf/Publications/Vie-pratique/Fiches-pratiques/Facturation-entre-professionnels

"Les dispositions essentielles
Elles sont au nombre de trois :

obligation pour le vendeur, à l'occasion de tout achat de produits ou de la réalisation d’une prestation de services « pour une activité professionnelle », de délivrer une facture et obligation pour l’acheteur de réclamer cette facture (conforme à la réglementation). Cette obligation n'est donc prévue par la loi que dans les relations entre professionnels (la délivrance de notes au consommateur est prévue par simple arrêté) ;

délivrance de la facture dès que la vente ou la prestation de services est réalisée (sous réserve des dispositions du Code général des impôts qui permettent dans certains cas spécifiques d’établir une facture périodique ou de manière différée) ;

obligation, pour le vendeur et l'acheteur, de conserver un exemplaire du document (le décret fixe la durée à trois ans)."

That is the current situation, so it may have been different at the time when you provided the translation. The laws, rules and regulations that apply are those at the time when you supplied the work.

The big simple question is, are you time-barred from issuing an invoice now? Certain rules have been harmonised for transactions between professionals in the European Union; was your business activity based in Europe at that time?

Another question you need to ask yourself is whether the amount of money involved actually makes it worthwhile spending time and maybe money to find this out.


 


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No URSAAF / SIRET - Can I still get paid?

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