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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OMG. It is all so confusing and daunting!

Due to redundancy we have decided that it is time for us to live our own lives! We will both be in our late 50's so not yet ready (or able) to retire but with enough savings to get by for a couple of years.

Looking at all the threads to do with "Carte Vital", "starting a business ", "mobile phones" has got me into a hot sweat. Where do we start?

We are British but have been out of the UK for over 17years, firstly in Belgium and the last 6 years in Switzerland. We both have medical issues that require medication so need health cover from the start. Do we take a years private cover to give us plenty of time to get the CV or would a lesser time work? We are hoping to start a small business to help keep us going until our pensions kick in, start it up ASAP or wait a while?
We have already owned our French home for 10 years and have telephone and very slow Internet through "Orange". Do we just add a mobile to the package or is "Free" better. We have rubbish reception around the house as it is very rural and in the forest so the phone is for "emergencies" and the business if we start it.
We visit regularly and wonder if there is anything we can kickstart now that will help us when we arrive. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance
 

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You're going to be in a rather "awkward" position, given the timing and circumstances of your relocation to France. Brexit aside (as no one has a clue how that will affect things), you'll need to establish a "statut" (fancy way of saying "why are you here?") It can be difficult to establish yourselves as "inactif" unless your savings is generating enough income so that you're "living on the interest."

It might be a good idea to go for some sort of interim private health cover until you can get your business set up and running. (It avoids all the discussions about whether you're just "job seekers" which isn't a statut at all, apparently.) As part of registering your business, you'll register for the cotisations (social insurances) and start paying into the system - at which point you sign up for CPAM (the national system) and a mutuelle (the top up insurance), along with all the other social insurances.

You may want to start studying the CCI website for the departement where your house is located. They usually have a section devoted to helping people set up their own businesses, and they can advise you about the (many) options available for business entities.

As far as whether Orange or Free is your best option, you need to ask around among your neighbors. Service varies greatly by area.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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We have already owned our French home for 10 years and have telephone and very slow Internet through "Orange". Do we just add a mobile to the package or is "Free" better. We have rubbish reception around the house as it is very rural and in the forest so the phone is for "emergencies" and the business if we start it.
You might have trouble getting decent internet speed, unless perhaps you go 4G.
 

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Welcome to the forum!

Concerning setting up a business in France, Bev's advice to go directly to the CCI nearest your French domicile and make contact with their CFE (centre formalités entreprise) is very sound.

End of last month I decided to go modern and create another business through "guichet-entreprise.fr" website.
Very well laid out, in five (?) languages, clear and simple, step by step...
I uploaded the documents required and clicked on "send"!

Three weeks later I'm still waiting for returns from INSEE, greffe, CCI etc.

I phoned my CCI and explained...

"Well, any idiot can create a good-looking website but they just don't have the people or the technology behind it to make it function!" they said.
"Bring all the paperwork over here and we'll give you a receipt for it this afternoon and you can get on with your business!"

Seriously, inform your local centre des impots that you're permanently moving to your French address, ask Orange if they can upgrade your connexion or ask them about a box via 4G.
Free throw in a free mobile account if you have their box and Orange are advertising a similar deal this autumn for several mobiles.

Healthcare is tied to your activity but also to the amount of time that you've been resident in France (over 3 months). Your Swiss healthcare should still cover you awhile, no?
 

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I know plenty of people who have moved to France as inactiffs and live off savings. As far as I know they are all covered by what is now PUMA but the problem is you won't know if they will accept you until after you apply and that's three months after you establish residence. To access PUMA you usually need to prove that you have an income of over about @€9600 (€15,000 for a couple?) and that would mean a lot of savings but they do use a formula for people in your position. Another thing to be wary of is your first year's cover. Your contributions will be based on your previous year's income and if you are both leaving well paid jobs that could work out to be expensive. Have a look at the ameli.fr site for all the details.
Your choice of mobile phone connection depends on your needs. A lot of people take advantage of the cheap options like Free and Leclerc whereas others go for more substantial contracts. I have a contract that has unlimited calls and a reasonable data allowance. That option suits me because I use my smartphone online a lot when I'm away from home. It's a personal choice. I was looking at a great map showing mobile coverage earlier this week. I was interested to see that my house has excellent Orange coverage but nothing from Free. That was a surprise as I'd been led to believe that Free used the Orange network. Having said that I'm not sure that having an excellent mobile signal at home is vital, I use my mobile away from home a lot more than I do here.
Re the Orange Internet, if you have a slow connection there's not a lot that you can do about it, changing providers won't help. There is a huge initiative taking place putting fibre optics into rural France. The centre of my commune has it now but my village will have to wait until 2020. Something to look forward to.
As far as Brexit is concerned who knows. If you have set your heart on living in France get here sooner than later. Life might be harder for British citizens in the future but it certainly won't be difficult. Get here, settle in then watch the future unfold along with the rest of us.
 

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I know plenty of people who have moved to France as inactiffs and live off savings. As far as I know they are all covered by what is now PUMA but the problem is you won't know if they will accept you until after you apply and that's three months after you establish residence. To access PUMA you usually need to prove that you have an income of over about @€9600 (€15,000 for a couple?) and that would mean a lot of savings but they do use a formula for people in your position. Another thing to be wary of is your first year's cover. Your contributions will be based on your previous year's income and if you are both leaving well paid jobs that could work out to be expensive. Have a look at the ameli.fr site for all the details.
Your choice of mobile phone connection depends on your needs. A lot of people take advantage of the cheap options like Free and Leclerc whereas others go for more substantial contracts. I have a contract that has unlimited calls and a reasonable data allowance. That option suits me because I use my smartphone online a lot when I'm away from home. It's a personal choice. I was looking at a great map showing mobile coverage earlier this week. I was interested to see that my house has excellent Orange coverage but nothing from Free. That was a surprise as I'd been led to believe that Free used the Orange network. Having said that I'm not sure that having an excellent mobile signal at home is vital, I use my mobile away from home a lot more than I do here.
Re the Orange Internet, if you have a slow connection there's not a lot that you can do about it, changing providers won't help. There is a huge initiative taking place putting fibre optics into rural France. The centre of my commune has it now but my village will have to wait until 2020. Something to look forward to.
As far as Brexit is concerned who knows. If you have set your heart on living in France get here sooner than later. Life might be harder for British citizens in the future but it certainly won't be difficult. Get here, settle in then watch the future unfold along with the rest of us.
However, and just as an update, the government has just stated that it will now not be fibre for many locations after all (project to big and expensive) and is looking to fill the gap via more satellites and ADSL. That said, the current governments increased focus on improving high speed internet across France does seem to have spurred the providers into faster action to introduce fibre. The Dordogne seems by all reports to be the area that suffers most from lack of fast internet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I know plenty of people who have moved to France as inactiffs and live off savings. As far as I know they are all covered by what is now PUMA but the problem is you won't know if they will accept you until after you apply and that's three months after you establish residence. To access PUMA you usually need to prove that you have an income of over about @€9600 (€15,000 for a couple?) and that would mean a lot of savings but they do use a formula for people in your position. Another thing to be wary of is your first year's cover. Your contributions will be based on your previous year's income and if you are both leaving well paid jobs that could work out to be expensive. Have a look at the ameli.fr site for all the details.

Thank you all for your input so far.

We were planning to arrive as inactiffs but to quite quickly set up our small business. Your and others comments on accessing PUMA have really got me worried though. Having had a quick look at the ameli.fr site and other commentators it seems that for 2018 contributions they will look at 2016 income, so that suggests 2 years not last years. I also read that if you can show that your income has reduced significantly then they may look favourably and reduce your contributions accordingly. Our income would be almost zero until we started earning, interest rates on savings being next to nothing.

We are coming from Switzerland where wages are high as are the costs of living. Only one of us was working. We could stay and claim benefits for 2 years but with the cost of housing, health insurance, other insurances and food we would still be dipping into our savings and would be restricted on how much we could travel outside the country, 4 weeks a year. We prefer to get to France, especially with the Brexit situation, and try to start a new chapter.

My consequent question is: are we better to come and be inactiffs, take out private insurance for a year and then go down the route of starting our business the following year, applying for the carte vitale etc or just come and start as we were planning?
 

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In very general terms, I'd say your "Plan B" would be a good approach. Health care isn't the only thing you'll have to set up and learn to live with on arrival - and it gives you a chance to do some research regarding the whole subject of business entities and how that all works here in France, establish some ties to the CCI, get your cartes de séjour, etc.

OTOH, if you both have health issues, it could make it that much more difficult to find affordable private insurance for that first year. (Then again, if it's only for that one year....) We've recently had at least one person who reported that their CPAM would not take their application for a carte vitale unless they have a carte de séjour - and there are some prefectures who want to see that you have health coverage if you're an EU national asking for a carte de séjour. It's not the case everywhere, but getting private insurance for that first year could give you a certain "grace period" to attend to other matters before you tackle either the business set-up or the PUMA registration. It's sometimes the case that having to do everything all at once is the big problem.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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If you are planning to run a business in France consider starting it straight away as that will allow you to enter the health system straight away. I'm no expert but you can go a fair time declaring nill profit before anyone will question the viability of your enterprise. If you arrive with private insurance, then move to PUMA, then set up a business and have to move your health care yet again you could encounter problems.
 

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Or perhaps take out private insurance for 6 months and use the time to start up your business. If you find it will take you time to get the business set up, you can apply for PUMA. I don't see why it would be a problem to move your cotisations to the business, as you would have your social security number (especially since the government is doing away with the RSI caisse). In any case, health insurance cotisations and the income tax system are now linked in France and any deficit in cotisations will be picked up and subsequently billed. Plus, of course, getting your business established sooner will get you into the pension system sooner - every little bit counts :)
 

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If you are planning to run a business in France consider starting it straight away as that will allow you to enter the health system straight away. I'm no expert but you can go a fair time declaring nill profit before anyone will question the viability of your enterprise. If you arrive with private insurance, then move to PUMA, then set up a business and have to move your health care yet again you could encounter problems.
Actually, you can go pretty much indefinitely without declaring profit in certain types of business entities, so long as you're paying your cotisations. That may not be true for the auto-entrepreneur category, but it certainly works for the EURL, EIRL, SARL businesses. There is also the option of having a spouse as an unpaid collaborator, which would give her credits toward a pension - perhaps only a small one, but better than the proverbial "poke in the eye with a sharp stick."

However, it takes a while to learn your way around the various options, along with the advantages and pitfalls of each of them. That's the main reason I suggested giving yourselves some breathing space on arrival to get set up and deciding on the right path for what you want to do. (Thanks to various treaties, it is usually possible to count working time in other EU countries toward a pension entitlement in France.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you all.
We have cogitated, ruminated and generally had a good think about things. We have come to the conclusion that it we have so many things we want and need to do to make the house a home rather than a holiday home that we will need a few months so.....
We intend to arrive as inactifs, talk to Madame la Maire and confirm we are now permanent residents, go to the Tresor publique and change our status from secondaries to permanent and then maybe start a discussion with the relevant bodies about starting a business in the future. We will come with a years health cover which we can shorten if we do apply and get the Carte Vital earlier, and a hope that as we settle in as residents rather than frequent visitors, things become more clear.
Really looking forward to the new chapter of our lives, the last 2 years have been crap!!!
 

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Congratulations on having a plan! Most expats will tell you that moving to France is a life changing, headbanging and surprise laden undertaking. I'm sure you will change your plans once you are here, but you have a sound basis to start.

As General Eisenhower said ((afterwards!) of his plans for the D Day landings......the plans were not much help....we threw them away very quickly because things changed....it was the PLANNING that was important.

Good luck....DejW
 

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go to the Tresor publique and change our status from secondaries to permanent
The Tresor Public (you're lucky if you still have one!) aren't likely to take any action on this, basically they're a local office that does admin work on behalf of the tax office such as posting out property tax bills, collecting payments for property taxes, speeding fines etc.

Basically your status is decided, automatically and retrospectively, by facts and events and by having ticked boxes - once you've been here for three months and meet the residence criteria then you are resident, and you can prove it to anyone who needs to know by showing utility bills etc. It's not a bad idea to introduce yourself to the tax office, but they won't officially change your status yet because all they're interested in is whether you're a taxpayer or not, and until you start paying taxes you're not. What triggers the change in status as far as they're concerned is when you submit your first income declaration, which you'll presumably do next April/May. When that's processed and the info goes into the computer, you will automatically be added you to the list of taxpayers, issued with your taxpayer reference numbers, and the status of your home will automatically be changed from secondaire to principale as from 1.1.18. Like a lot of things, property status goes in calendar years - the address that is down on your tax form as your main home on 1st Jan is treated as your main home for that calendar year; if no tax declaration was submitted for that address for the year, then it's a maison secondaire.

Good luck with it all, you have the right approach IMHO!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Possible change of plan!

Due to exorbitant quotes on private health insurance, and that they may not cover pre existing conditions, it may be better that we arrive and set up our “micro enterprise” ASAP. We have been advised that one of us would have to do a “course” as neither of us has run a business before. Has anyone done one of these courses and if so, how good does my French have to be?

No final decisions yet but as we will be moving in January things are definitely becoming more REAL!

Thanks all
 

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If you're planning on setting up a business, you'll need to have some idea where you're going. The CCIs vary a bit from one departement to the next. Some may actually have English speaking staff who may make things a bit easier for you. Others, not so much.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I did a half-day course at my local CCI last year and I know they also run a 5 day course with people from RSI, URSSAF & Sécu present in addition to the CCI.
The course was very thorough and gave much food for thought.
Both are much sought after and so reserving at least a month in advance is a minimum.
Most people applying are registered with Pole Emploi who cover the cost of the course - inquire how much they charge for independents.
There's also a possibility to have a personalised accompaniment including the course and help from a counsellor to fill in papers and answer questions:
Les CCI vous aident à créer votre entreprise - CCI.fr

A fair understanding of French language, fiscality and administrations is necessary in my opinion.
I've seen native French speakers dazed at the sheer volume of information.
 

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What??? Do your research before you move; not a couple of months..It will fail or you will be worse off.. Take off the rose coloured glasses before you leave the island and it might become more clear...

Spain is good also and might be more suitable to your "rose" tinted glasses.
 

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What??? Do your research before you move; not a couple of months..It will fail or you will be worse off.. Take off the rose coloured glasses before you leave the island and it might become more clear...

Spain is good also and might be more suitable to your "rose" tinted glasses.
Perhaps you should read the thread - the OP has been doing the research for a while and is in Switzerland, not the UK. Put your glasses on and things will definitely become clearer.
 

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I did a half-day course at my local CCI last year and I know they also run a 5 day course with people from RSI, URSSAF & Sécu present in addition to the CCI.
The course was very thorough and gave much food for thought.
Both are much sought after and so reserving at least a month in advance is a minimum.
Most people applying are registered with Pole Emploi who cover the cost of the course - inquire how much they charge for independents.
There's also a possibility to have a personalised accompaniment including the course and help from a counsellor to fill in papers and answer questions:


A fair understanding of French language, fiscality and administrations is necessary in my opinion.
I've seen native French speakers dazed at the sheer volume of information.
It's true that even the French find this confusing. Don't quote me on all the details below, you'll need to get up to date advice, but I've owned a company here so I know the process.

Whilst the UK is in Europe, you still have the option of creating a company in the UK (or any European country). As I understand it, it's your right as a citizen of Europe, and for about £400-£500 it's job done in under a week using a good UK accountant. You operate as Non-Dom Director, travelling back to the UK just to make important meetings and decisions with your account. I've also done that, so I can confirm it.

It's another piste that could be good option.

*** Warning Long-ish Post *** ;)

Anyone is welcome to chip in and correct me, as I did this in 2012 and French regulations and laws have undoubtedly changed here & there.

With any company there's a cost and a compromise to doing you're own thing, so going to local meet-ups to get up to date advice will help support you.

Paying for personalised accompaniment as suggested is a good option as advised above, and the CCI website should have a page specifically relevant for your nearest city.

The Pole Emploi won't normally pay for anything unless you've already paid into the french system. Make a request, but be prepared to wait and pay. Unemployed French people will be at the front of the queue.

CCI will help you, but you will also have to pay them. That could work well if you've researched exactly what you would like to do. Make sure you have enough information not to be pushed into a Statut that you don't understand or didn't wish to create...it happens. They should be there to guide you through paperwork and answer questions, not make your business decisions. If in doubt, sleep on it or get more advice before signing anything.

You may do well to have an English speaking accountant to do everything for you if you have the budget. Don't get carried away and hire the first one, the fees can be vastly different, as can monthly/yearly accounting fees that will be packaged with them.

I've seen websites promising the create of a SARL (more than one shareholder) or EURL (single owner) in 48 hours, but I guessing you pay a relative fee to achieve this.

From my own experience, and others, it took 4 months for the paperwork to go through.

Other company options are forms of SEL & Auto-entrepreneur. Simplified status, and the auto-entrepreneurs used to have a 3 year limited time-span, with an obligation to upgrade to a real registered company or shut down when the time runs out. It could be a good option whilst finding your feet. 3 years is a long time and you may have moved on again. I say that because shutting down a French company is twice a painful as opening one...been there too ;0)

Be careful with SEL because you have to hold diplomas to work as "Profession Liberale" in many cases. I also believe you can't invest a as company to turn cash into nontaxable assets; you'll be taxed directly on earnings. Could be wrong, so ask for clarifications on taxation.

You will have to deal with all the different agencies separately (RSI, USSSAF Secu, et al) and you have to pay all of them from Day 1, even if your business has no income.

If you work independently you're carte vitale will be issue separately from the normal Secu system and withdrawn the moment you stop paying or close the company. Something to consider under your circumstances, as normally when your unemployed the cover is extended.

Bottom Line: Create your business plan in black and white, outline your goals, and then find a suitable structure that allows you to meet your goals. Don't pick a company structure and then try and squeeze your business into it.

Hope this adds something to your research.
 
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