DECIDE ON THE NATURE OF YOUR BUSINESS.....
You may be contemplating self-employment in France and, depending on the nature of your activity, your business will fall into one of the following categories: artisan, commercant, industriel or profession liberal. Here's how they work, in a nutshell:
This title covers the manufacture, transformation or repair of goods or provision of services, possibly with input from family members or a small number of employees (limited to 10). Artisans are registered on the Repertoire des Metiers and with the Chambre de Metiers et de l'artisanat. Examples of artisans in France include hairdressers, builders, electricians and plumbers.
This also covers the manufacture, transformation or repair of goods or provision of services but by businesses with more than 10 employees. Industriel businesses are also registered on the Registre de commerce et des societes.
This covers trading and commercial activities like buying and selling, shipping and intermediary services and activities equated with trading, such as running a driving school or working as a sales representative. Most of these activities require registration on the Registre de commerce et des societes and all commercants must be registered with the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie. Other examples of a commercant include restaurant owner, estate agent or dispensing optician.
If your business comes under the combined category of artisan/commercant, such as for bakers, butchers, mechanics, car dealers or repair businesses then you should contact the Chambre de Metiers et de l'artisanat, who will take charge of the registration process with the Repertoire de Metiers and the Registre de Commerce et des societes. Professionals in this category may be state-appointed (as in the case for notaries, for example) or members of a professional order or association, such as Pharmacists.
This title covers all self-employed persons who do not fall into the previous three categories, such as architects, veternary surgeons, lawyers, chartered accountants, consulting engineers and language teachers, for example. Also included in this category are persons who work intermittently in the public sector, such as expert witnesses, trustees or probation officers, but who have opted for their public-sector income to be bracketed with their income from their self-employed activity, the latter being their principal activity.