Expat Forum For People Moving Overseas And Living Abroad banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 42 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,

My parents, my partner and I are looking forward to embarking on a joint venture to France, currently aiming for late 2015. My parents will be in their early 60's and we (OH and I) will be early 30's. We've been through all the personal/emotional/soul searching to decide if this is right for us and we're all happy that it's what we want. My parents have spent numerous holidays in France and OH and I worked, travelled and volunteered in France over a period of almost 2 years, so we're fairy confident that we know what we're letting ourselves in for, in terms of knowing about the country. :fingerscrossed:

We have spent many hours poring over the information on the internet, this forum (super useful!) and books from the library to help us on our way to being well informed when we come to make our decisions RE area, property, and what we will do with ourselves once we are there. Obviously that will be a huge learning curve for us all (probably a never ending one!).

I guess our biggest concern at this early stage is "what we'll do with ourselves when we get there" and it would be interesting to hear some thoughts from you guys, people who have been there, done that, got the T-shirt, so to speak. Our plan, like soooo many others (!), is based around hospitality and tourism (ok, a gite... there, I said it!) alongside a smallholding set-up which we plan will generate a small amount of side income and also assist with our semi self-sufficient lifestyle.

Now, all the reading we've been doing around this has brought us firmly down to earth and we're completely aware that we won't be millionaires from this kind of venture (we don't really want to be!). What we would like to know though, is are we actually dreaming or can our vision become a reality??

So, here's a few facts that we hope are on our side. My dad is an incredibly practical, handy and resourceful man and is planning on becoming grounds/handy/maintenance man of our new property (and passing on his skills to my OH, who currently hasn't a clue about any of that stuff!). OH and I are not afraid of hard work, have experience of working in hospitality in France, and also of working on a smallholding, and we have a list of ideas for USP's that will set us apart from potential competitors. We have worked together at incredibly close quarters in stressful environments and we haven't murdered each other yet :rip:, so we know we can work together during tough times. The main thing that I think is on our side is finances... we are lucky enough to be in the situation where my parents will be able to purchase a property outright and so none of us will have any mortgage payments to worry about whilst we are getting ourselves up and running. We are also in the process of putting together our business plan to help us work out what we will need to run the first year or so, and over the next 18 months we will be working to ensure that our bank accounts will be able to handle this without even having a single customer. This has been our dream for a number of years so have been saving hard already!!

So, congratulations to anyone who has made it through my ramblings thus far! I promise that my future posts will be more concise! If anyone is happy to pass comment our our plan then I'm happy to hear pointers, tips, hometruths, similar experiences, etc.... I'm going through phases of thinking we're completely mad and so some encouragement would be quite nice too! :eek:

In the future I'm sure we'll have a ton of questions with regards to business structures, tax systems, social security etc., but I've got a stack reading material ready and waiting for me before I bombard this forum!

Anyway, thanks for your time (just scrolled back up through my post and it REALLY IS LONG!! :eek: )

Best wishes,

Nina :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,909 Posts
Welcome to our forum. I'm sure you will get many diverse and interesting replies. Please don't expect us to agree.

First, I congratulate you on your planning, research and a well thought out post.

My first comment is "do you really know France?" You say that you have visited and worked in France - employed in France or working for a UK company in France? To put it bluntly, France is not really open to the idea of free enterprise as known in the UK. The problems that may need further research are:

What diplomas, qualifications can you show to your prospective clients? These things are really very important.

Have you researched how you will operate, there are different schemes auto entrepreneur, micro enterprise, SARL etc etc. Bev is our expert here. There are different regimes for different professions. one example given here a little while ago was "photographer". If you are registered as "wedding photographer" you can't do plant photography, or something like that. You can't set up a company "DEJW Sarl" which does everything from gravedigging to banknote printing!

I suggest that a long visit to France is in order. Try to avoid the tourist areas, and try looking for work. Unemployment is high and rising. Something will go "bang" in France soon, there's social unrest, high taxes and a weak government.

DejW
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,271 Posts
Hi Nina :wave:

It sounds like you've done a lot of thinking and planning and researching, and have identified the important points. Look forward to hearing how your project progresses!
The healthcare angle is the one that often catches us Brits out because we're so used to having healthcare on tap, free at the point of delivery, and it's not like that in France. Whatever business structure you set up will have to support social security contributions for two separate couples; just something to bear in mind. Also you need to look into how it works if you generate an income from land-based activities, with regards to registering, making solidarity payments etc. And the third thing that occurs to me off the cuff is, you say 'partner' - there are various practical advantages in being married or PACS'd if you are going to be jointly owning property or running a business. But these things are probably all on your reading list already.

Bon courage :thumb: just out of interest what part of France are you aiming for?

PS Just seen DejW's post - I've got my encouraging hat on this morning, but DejW is quite right about the general state of the economy and the prevailing mood in France at the moment. French Revolution Mark II is not exactly something you can plan around, but keep reading the French newspapers and keep your finger on the pulse, as they say.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,415 Posts
Sounds like you're off to a good start - and you've gotten some good advice from a couple of our regulars.

I'd add a couple of points. If you're going the gite route, be sure to define just who your audience is. Are you planning on taking in mostly British tourists, other nationalities, trying to attract French folks, all of the above, none of the above? Each potential audience has its own needs and expectations (and you'll have to find a way to market your gite to each audience - just hanging up a website and "they will come" doesn't always work very well).

ET's comments about health insurance are very relevant. Health insurance coverage here is not a function of residence, but of having paid into the system for some period of time. You'll want to be sure to get your certificate from the UK health authority that allows you to enroll in the French sécu for a transition period (that can be up to two years, as I understand it). If you aren't eligible for that, then you need to look into private coverage for the transition period (i.e. until you are duly registered and have paid the requisite minimum into the cotisation system).

You don't mention your language skills. If you don't have a reasonably level of French already, you probably should start studying - you'll need it if only for the paperwork that awaits you. If you're already "fluent" then having a third language certainly wouldn't hurt in the gite business, depending on your intended audience.

And, you may want to research the building and health standards for "hospitality" facilities in France. They do tend to be kind of strict on those, and if you're planning on doing the renovation and maintenance yourself, you'll need to be able to pass the various inspections as they arise.

But otherwise, carry on! And keep us posted how your plans are coming along.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,909 Posts
Ahem, Bev and EuroT are (nearly!) always right!

Certainly health cover and language are very important in France.

The gite business is a lot more hard work than you might imagine. We run chamber d'hôte and rental appartements specifically for French people taking "the cure" in the local thermal spa. There's a lot of paperwork, hanging around waiting for people to arrive. Some of our guests cause no problems, others come to complain about really very minor problems. There are tax and increased revenue benefits of being categorised the appropriate organisation, but from what I hear it's very pernickety over small details.

PM me if you want more details.....but you need to make a small number of posts before the PM facility is available to you.

As EuroT says "where in France"....it's a big country with very strong regional differences. Bev is right, you need to think through your target audience for gites. "passing trade" of people staying 1 or 2 nights is hard work and far less profitable.

DejW

Happy to help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks everyone for your replies, it's good to know where we need to focus our research. I've downloaded the Practical Guide for Entrepreneurs by the APCE, which looks to have lots of good information with regards to business structures and setting up etc - a good starting point, I think! I've read bits about the healthcare system (I've got David Hampshire's book "Living and Working in France" which explains it quite well) so I think I get the gist of how it works, although it's going to take a while to figure out where/how we'll all fit into it.

With regards to area of the country, the next part of our plan will hopefully help us with that - OH and I are planning on getting ourselves over to France next spring to spend X number of months working/volunteering around the country (or maybe settle in one spot and spend weekends darting around the place) which will help us familiarise ourselves with the areas we're interested in (mainly west coast-ish) and also help us pick up our language (I'm booked on a local course here too). My French is passable for generally getting on in life, but needs improvement for sure.

My first comment is "do you really know France?"
Haha! Optimistic, huh!? I suppose this came out wrong, I think I'll probably spend my entire life finding out 'surprising' little things about France! I guess I really meant, we have our eyes open and we're not wearing rose-tinted specs... and I'm sure no matter how 'prepared' we think we are, there'll always be something that trips us up!

What diplomas, qualifications can you show to your prospective clients? These things are really very important.
What sort of qualifications would prospective guests be expecting to see?

there are various practical advantages in being married or PACS'd if you are going to be jointly owning property or running a business.
Currently working on that one, mhehe! :love:
Sort of along that line... Another thing that currently baffles me is the inheritance laws - maybe I'll start another thread on that one, when I reach that on my reading list! If my parents own the property are they able to leave it to whoever they choose, ie write into a will where it goes? Basically because the plan for when they 'depart this life' (!) is to share the property between myself and my brother. If it was a UK property they'd just write it into a will and it would be separated accordingly - can it work this way in France?

Soooo many new things to learn!!! :drama: (there's some mental smilies on this forum - love it!!)

Thanks again everyone, much appreciated! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
686 Posts
Based on what the OP has indicated, both couples are intending to move to France to work or start a business, so as long as they have up-to-date full NI contributions for the 3 financial years before they move they should qualify for a residual S1 form for healthcare. The withdrawal of the residual S1 is for early retirees. However, if they intend to spend months in France volunteering they may find their NI contributions will not be enough to get the appropriate healthcare cover. Something to check with the DWP before making plans.

Also, when using information from library books be sure to check that the regulations have not changed since the printing date.

For the inheritance law aspect - your parents cannot leave the property to who they choose as there are rules about reserved heirs in France. The good news is - their children (assume you and your brother) are the reserved heirs and will inherit an equal amount each. But do look into it as there are always oddities regarding inheritance in France.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,271 Posts
Based on what the OP has indicated, both couples are intending to move to France to work or start a business, so as long as they have up-to-date full NI contributions for the 3 financial years before they move they should qualify for a residual S1 form for healthcare. The withdrawal of the residual S1 is for early retirees.
Could you explain that a bit more, Tina?
As I understood it, as things are, people who move to France pre-retirement age (and excluding DLA etc) are entitled to residual healthcare:

EITHER for up to 2 years if they are initially inactive, in which case the potential consequences are (a) They can potentially become active at some point during those 2 years in which case their S1 become invalid as soon as they start working and contributing in France; or (b) they can remain inactive until their S1 expires and then make other arrangements.

OR they are entitled to annual renewable cover from the UK if their proposed activity in France is subsidiary to their existing ongoing activity in the UK.

I thought the 'EITHER' category was being withdrawn, leaving the 'OR' category, which the OP doesn't appear to fit into.

I thought that people are either active and contributing in France, or they're not active and not contributing via work in France in which case they're 'inactif', and that 'early retiree' was just a more aspirational way of saying 'inactif'. I wasn't aware that HMRC/DWP took 'intentions' into account. Otherwise, what's to stop all 'early retirees' saying they're going to start a business in France in 2 years time, in order to get their S1s?

What am I not seeing - would they need to register as jobseekers or something?

Also, when using information from library books be sure to check that the regulations have not changed since the printing date.
+1, nothing is set in stone. Bear in mind that the rules and regs will keep changing right up to the day you move and then some, so you have to keep on top of it and build adaptability and resilience into your plans. Government websites are generally the best source of information because they are kept up to date.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
686 Posts
Could you explain that a bit more, Tina?
As I understood it, as things are, people who move to France pre-retirement age (and excluding DLA etc) are entitled to residual healthcare:

EITHER for up to 2 years if they are initially inactive, in which case the potential consequences are (a) They can potentially become active at some point during those 2 years in which case their S1 become invalid as soon as they start working and contributing in France; or (b) they can remain inactive until their S1 expires and then make other arrangements.

OR they are entitled to annual renewable cover from the UK if their proposed activity in France is subsidiary to their existing ongoing activity in the UK.

I thought the 'EITHER' category was being withdrawn, leaving the 'OR' category, which the OP doesn't appear to fit into.

I thought that people are either active and contributing in France, or they're not active and not contributing via work in France in which case they're 'inactif', and that 'early retiree' was just a more aspirational way of saying 'inactif'. I wasn't aware that HMRC/DWP took 'intentions' into account. Otherwise, what's to stop all 'early retirees' saying they're going to start a business in France in 2 years time, in order to get their S1s?

What am I not seeing - would they need to register as jobseekers or something?



+1, nothing is set in stone. Bear in mind that the rules and regs will keep changing right up to the day you move and then some, so you have to keep on top of it and build adaptability and resilience into your plans. Government websites are generally the best source of information because they are kept up to date.
Here's my take on it.

The residual S1 is a standard EU form that is supposed to enable the free movement of labour. So, those people who move to a new country to look for work or start a business can get a period of cover on the residual S1 based on their contributions in the country of origin.

However, the UK (and only the UK) has in the past allowed early retirees, i.e. those people who are intending to move to a new country but not do any work, to take advantage of the residual S1 - this is the benefit that is being withdrawn.

So, you are right, if people want to get the residual S1 form they need to register as jobseekers on arrival OR register a business.

I would imagine that there is nothing to stop early retirees from stating that they are intending to look for work or start a business, but they may be required to prove it. If they say they intend to start a business, then the business registration will automatically invalidate the S1. If they are looking for work, then they would need to be registered with the Pole Emploi and fulfil the conditions required.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,271 Posts
@ Tina - Thanks for clarifying.
Though I still don't completely see it.

I took the 'free movement of labour' to be people who are in continuous work, but who move from country to country with their ongoing job; they will be covered by an S1 from their competent state, I agree there.
If you move to a different country and immediately start a new activity there, you go into that country's healthcare system so no need of an S1, we seem to agree on that too.
If you move to a different country as a jobseeker, I believe there are special rules for jobseekers.
If one moves to a different country without any definite work lined up and not as a jobseeker, you seem to be saying that one would still be covered but I'm struggling to see on what basis.

Maybe you're seeing 'labour' as including 'potential labour' and I'm seeing 'potential labour' as 'currently inactive'. Dunno. :confused:
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,415 Posts
The Europa website indicates that, on moving to a new country, you carry over rights to certain types of social security benefits. EU - Right to social security benefits for people looking for a job in other EU countries-Your Europe

Click on the link for "national social security systems" and download the pamphlet on France. It looks like you carry over your health care benefits for at least your first year in France (as long as you were covered in the UK - and I suppose you would have to have some form of "proof" or confirmation of your cover in the UK, which I thought was the S1, but maybe this is changing or will change).

AFAIK, chomage (unemployment) benefits only transfer for up to about 3 months outside your home country. And you get your sécu benefits (health and retirement) continued by Pole Emploi only if you are receiving benefits from them.

But, as mentioned, all these things are changing in the current climate.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
526 Posts
Go for it!

Once again, congratulations on the thorough research, and you're right, life in France will always be a steep learning curve, particularly when wrestling with the administration!

We did it: Two generations, a successful chambres d'hotes & self sufficient in fruit, veg, herbs, eggs, preserves & firewood (for the hot water & central heating). The plan was to provide the meat too (we have 20 hectares and a lovely big agricultural barn), but the reality of a busy chambres d'hotes, particularly providing table d'hotes, is 18 hour days and very little time or energy for anything else. I have horses & dogs too and I only found the time to ride once between May and September and trips out were to the boulangerie every morning. I didn't leave the village for 5 months!!

Get your S1, it provides a buffer while you wait for the administration wheels to turn. I went to CPAM office & completed all forms with a very helpful lady. She took copies of all relevant docs and said that was everything. I received a temp ss number in 7 weeks. I registered as AE before ss number arrived and started paying cotisations and tax monthly. I received the Attestation Cotisation from the RSI after 6 months & my Carte Vitale after a year!!... Get an S1 if you can!!!


For me, the benefits far outweigh the negatives and I was kind of prepared for the lifestyle; long unsocial hours and talking to people from all walks of life; I lived in the countryside, kept animals & was a psychiatric nurse for 28 years. I have met the most amazing people of all nationalities, have lots of repeat visitors that feel like friends and thoroughly enjoy the new challenges.

We have been welcomed into the community & I feel that I am as integrated as is possible in this area; they are very traditional and quite private and are not looking for new 'friends'. I use 'I' as I'm the only french speaker in the house, so the others are unable to integrate fully. I found the cultural difference quite difficult to deal with to begin with, feeling that people were being aloof with me. But it just is as it is! As far as I know, there are no Brits near here at all (though I haven't actively searched for any) so I feel very honoured to have been accepted into this community. In July, black clouds started to roll in before I'd got all of my hay in, within minutes, neighbours and their friends & extended families arrived with tractors, quads and barrows, gathered & stacked 200+ bales in the barn. Humbling. We help each other with everything when needed.

I did years of research, spent 2 years searching for the right property, often visiting weekly when a new property came on the market, visited 18 departments & learned the language. We bought the property in 2008 but I still feel out of my depth at times. Such is life. You seem to have a good attitude for success; lots of thought, experience, research and acknowledging your limitations being open to advice & learning as you go and I wish you every happiness in the process and the outcome.

Well, you did ask for our experience...... like most people who've made the move, I could write a book! I think this may be more rambling than the OP, but its been very cathartic, so thanks for that!!

Kind regards,
Gypsycob
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
686 Posts
@ Tina - Thanks for clarifying.
Though I still don't completely see it.

I took the 'free movement of labour' to be people who are in continuous work, but who move from country to country with their ongoing job; they will be covered by an S1 from their competent state, I agree there.
If you move to a different country and immediately start a new activity there, you go into that country's healthcare system so no need of an S1, we seem to agree on that too.
If you move to a different country as a jobseeker, I believe there are special rules for jobseekers.
If one moves to a different country without any definite work lined up and not as a jobseeker, you seem to be saying that one would still be covered but I'm struggling to see on what basis.

Maybe you're seeing 'labour' as including 'potential labour' and I'm seeing 'potential labour' as 'currently inactive'. Dunno. :confused:
I just had another look at the Europa website which details all the regulation and, surprise, surprise, it has changed substantially since I last looked. As you say, there no longer appears to be the mention of healthcare cover for people looking for work - the site is particularly vague here. So it would appear that this is being discouraged across the EU. The only groups now mentioned as being entitled to the S1 are pensioners and people working in one country whose family is in another.

So, you are right - 'potential labour' is the same as 'currently inactive' - and from April 2014 the implication is that UK nationals who are inactive will not be entitled to any healthcare cover from either country.

Just goes to show that subtle changes in wording can drastically affect the interpretation of regulations and guidelines.

The implications for the OP of this change would appear to be that they either need full private healthcare insurance to cover the period from when they arrive to when they set up the business, or somehow try to set up the business whilst visiting and still being resident in the UK.

I would certainly recommend a call to the DWP to clarify the latest position on S1 entitlement for people under retirement age.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Really helpful information, thank you. All these healthcare implications are helping me think through legal structures for our proposed business too. So, I'm thinking that an SARL will be the best structure for us, as a whole. At the moment I'm just relating this to healthcare rather than taxes etc...

Am I right in thinking that my mum is essentially not a concern RE healthcare as she will be officially retired and all her UK contributions will pass over to France and she will slot into their system? My dad, on the other hand, will be 60 and an "early retiree" so if he doesn't work he'll be considered inactive and not entitled to the reciprocal healthcare arrangement?

Therefore his options would be - take out comprehensive private healthcare (advisable anyway?); OR find work. Now, if we set up an SARL we can employ him (can he do this if he is also a partner in the company? This is not essential but he might want to be!) and he would then slot into the French system?

And what happens when he actually reaches retirement age? Will his lifetime of UK contributions be worth anything?

An SARL would also work in the favour of OH and I in terms of our own healthcare arrangements - we spent sometime travelling last year and so already have a gap in our NI contributions (not sure if it's a big enough gap (6 months) to matter, since we've worked continuously since leaving school/uni) and it would be good if we could slot into the French system too, without having to rely on reciprocal cover from the UK.

I know we'll probably all be advised to get private healthcare in the interim period whilst we make the move, but I'm thinking more for the long term arrangements.

Forgive me if I've got this all wrong, am working hard to get my head around it all!

And thank you @Gypsycob for your words of encouragement, it was really nice to read about your own experiences and your enthusiasm is inspiring!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,271 Posts
Well done for getting your head round all of that so quickly! That sounds right.

As a bona fide retiree your mum is entitled to an S1 from the UK to cover her healthcare. But if she then starts working in France, would this invalidate the S1? Hopefully someone will be along with the answer, otherwise you'd need to check. I know that in the case of early retirees who obtain S1s, the moment they start working in France and paying contributions direct into the system their S1 is invalidated. Logically it would be the same for retirees but I don't know.

For people who have worked and contributed in France for long enough to accrue a French pension, when they retire their pension is administered by France. You get your UK pension entitlement as well, you don't lose that, but the combined pension is paid as one and administered by France. Hence, no S1 from the UK, and hence, no exemption from CGT. There's not much you can do about this - if your dad is going to work for the business which it sounds as if he is, it wouldn't be a good start to your new life to have him working on the black, without paying his taxes and cotisations - but it's something to be aware of. If he is only working in order to get healthcare from France, it might backfire if he exchanges four or five years of part-funded healthcare for the privilege of paying full CGT on his pension for the next 30 years or so. Same with your mum, possibly.

Your plans sound to be taking shape nicely, and it's great to see such a well thought out venture. It sounds like a go-er - best of luck with it.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,415 Posts
Let me join Eurotrash in congratulating you on getting your head around the sometimes-complicated French regulations for businesses.

The key to the thing is that S1 form from the UK, which will allow you to live off your UK health care entitlement during the interim period. For your father, depending on his status in the UK, his entitlement through the French sécu may last up to two or three years. If it's not enough to take him to retirement age in the UK, then he'll need private insurance.

In your cases, it depends on your ages and how long you work in France. As long as you're working and contributing to the system, you'll be covered (for health care AND retirement) and when you hit retirement age, your situation will be evaluated to see if you are eligible for a partial pension. (They will count your years of work from the UK, but with no credit for the amounts you made during those years. Not sure how the UK system works, but there may be a reciprocal credit for years worked in France, if only to get you up to the minimum required for a pension in the UK.)

There's no real problem employing your father as a salaire associé (salaried shareholder) as long as he isn't the gérant and doesn't hold the majority of the interest in the company (your mother's shares will be counted, too). Just be sure he has a "real job" with defined duties and not just a token job designed to pay him income. Actually, though, your Dad may be able to get health care coverage as the spouse of your Mum if she's on the reciprocal coverage for retirees.

Your father most likely won't be able to get anywhere near enough credits in to get a French pension, but it's possible they'll give him a one-time payout based on his contributions over the years he works until retirement age. But he still should be able to claim his UK pension.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
686 Posts
One quick point - assuming your mum and dad are married, then your dad can be registered as a dependent on your mum's S1 (you need to ask for the extra form from the DWP) and this will be valid up until he gets his own S1 with his state pension. It is probably an awful lot easier from the healthcare perspective if your mum and dad are never employed in France as this can have substantial financial implications for their pension income, i.e. if they are not covered on the S1 form they will pay about 8% CSG on pensions. With the S1 they do not pay this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
686 Posts
Having had a bit to think (and drink coffee) it doesn't matter if your mum & dad are not married, the UK will still issue a dependent S1.
 
1 - 20 of 42 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top