Red Tape

Teacher in Business / Monday, February 27th, 2012

Starting a small business in France is no simple task.  I’ve taught these past few years with a statute called “auto-entrepreneur”.  This means that I can work as a self-employed teacher.  I’m expected to bill my clients with no VAT and declare my total earnings every three months, whether I earn something or not.  After declaration we have to pay our social charges which are determined by the amount earned and the type of business activity.  The statute auto-entrepreneur has a limited turnover of 81,500€ for selling merchandise  and 32,600€ for provision of services.  Unfortunately, those who work as auto-entrepreneur can’t write off their expenses. So it could be very costly to work depending on your activity.   This statute could have been very comfortable for me except no one is allowed to be on this statute longer than three years.

I’m slowly coming to my three years in November 2012.  So I’ve been working towards changing to a company.  This afternoon I tried to call the DDTEFP which stands for Direction Départementale du Travail, de l’Emploi, et de la Formation Professionnelle.  I called to ask them to send me the file by email, that I needed to get an agrément.  The agrément is an approval which shows that you are a recognized trainer and gives your clients advantages on their tax forms.  Instead, I got a civil servant on the line telling me what I can and can’t do.  She basically told me that I couldn’t tutor English and teach English in companies, that I had to choose.  I understood that the file she was to give me was for tutoring but, I just wanted to know if there was a file I could fill out to teach in companies as an independent as well.  She then persisted to give me a bogus email address to get the file.  I went to the address but the file wasn’t there.  This is typical of French administration.  The people who answer the phones never seem to know what’s going on and always seem to steer people in the wrong direction.  I then called the Chamber de Commerce to ask them what I needed to teach in companies as an independent and they didn’t know anything either.  I couldn’t believe this.  Normally the Chamber of Commerce should know how business works here in France.  This lady gave me another number.  I called that number and she didn’t know either and of course the person who could answer my question was on holiday and wouldn’t be back for a week.  We are on winter break at the moment.  So I started my search and found everything on the net.

A self-employed trainer needs a number from the DRTEFP which stands for La Direction Régionale du Travail, de l’Emploi, de la Formation.  Apparently many trainers are discouraged by the process of obtaining the famous number.  Basically, I must fill out a file asking for the number while providing a teaching service to a first client.  I must tell the client that I’ve applied and I’m waiting to receive my number from the DRTEFP.  Usually the number is distributed within two to three weeks.  Then I must rebill the client with the new valid number received from the DRTEFP.  Et voilà I’m in business. Sounds a lot like getting the green card.  You need a green card to get a job and you can’t get a job until you have the green card!

That took three hours to discover this afternoon and I still have to get both files sent to me by email.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be more fruitful.  I need to get on the move Mick Jagger…..

2 Replies to “Red Tape”

  1. Your post makes me smile. I can certainly ditto your experience & frustration firsthand…though I haven’t lived in France as long as you. It’s a steep uphill climb to get the most simple straightforward “anything” done here. Oh well, the process builds your patience muscles!

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