Advice for counsellors
wishing to work in France

Please note that Counselling In France cannot accept responsibility for any of the advice given here. It is not necessarily exact and must be verified by anyone using these pages as the information has been taken from a number of different sources and websites. Please click HERE for the new regulations about setting up.

One of the answers to the difficult issue of whether to register because there may not be enough clients to pay for the URSSAF bill every year, let alone to live on, is to create an association. You can start an association and register it without very little fuss and as long as any profit you make is either ploughed back into the association ie on professional insurance, fees for joining professional bodies, the creation of a counselling space and professional development, advertising etc., then this may be for you.

The French law 'Loi de 1901' is designed to allow a group of two or more people to meet and to raise funds as well as having the advantage of being a legal entity. The law allowed any group of individuals to set up a legally-recognised association without incurring too much red tape or expensive cotisations. Associations can make profits, but only for re-investment or to cover costs.

The first thing to do is to decide whether or not you want to formally register your association. The 1901 law allows any group of people to meet and share common ideas without completing any legal formalities at all.

If you opt for this formula however, your association will have no legal statute. This means it won't be able to open a bank account in its own name, hire people or carry out any other activities that must be undertaken by what French lawyers call a moral person (personne morale)

If you do decide to declare your association, you need to draw up a list of statutes setting out exactly what your group intends to do. If necessary, your local prefecture can provide you with a series of standard statutes that can be adapted to your association's needs.

It is important that the statutes take into account all of the possible activities your association may want to carry out. You must set out on a declaration what your activities and aims are to be. Once you have formally registered your group it will only be allowed to do what is mentioned in the statutes, which can only be changed by presenting a new declaration to the authorities. Therefore it's a good idea to keep the statutes as general as possible to cover everything you might decide to do.

You will also have to write down the full name of the association and its official address, which can be someone's house, an office, any building where the activities might take place or where you live. You need to provide the names, addresses, dates and places of birth and occupations of the people who will be running the group.

The next step is to photocopy everything three times - one copy for you and two for your local préfecture or sous-préfecture, making sure that the statutes are signed and dated by at least two members of the association's 'bureau'.

Finally, go along to your local préfecture to declare your association. It will appear in the Journal Officiel, which records all legal matters across the country. This step costs you approximately 35€ and a stamped self-addressed A4 envelope.

The bureau is the association's management team. Most small associations have a bureau made up of a President, Secretary and Treasurer, who are appointed by the members. You can have more than these, of course, but you will need these three, and each bureau member will have certain tasks.

The president heads the association, the secretary carries out secretarial tasks like taking minutes of meetings and sending out correspondence to members. The treasurer is in charge of the accounts.

AGM
At least once a year, all of an association's members MUST meet to discuss the group's business, elect bureau members etc. It is also possible to call extraordinary general assemblies if necessary.

Profits
Associations can make profits, but they must be re-invested in the association or used to cover the group's costs. Classic profit-making activities carried out by associations include organising dances, fêtes and other social events in order to raise money for the group. However, if profit-making becomes your association's primary activity, you could find yourself in trouble.

It is possible for an association to have the pursuit of money as its number one aim but this must be clearly mentioned in the statutes and money-making groups must pay certain business taxes. Registered associations have the right apply for subsidies from all of the usual sources.

For more information
Contact your local préfecture - you can find telephone number in the yellow pages at
http://www.pagesjaunes.fr  or on the website http://www.interieur.gouv.fr  See also the 'vie associative' section of government's exhaustive 'Service-Public' website at http://www.service-public.fr

 

Registration

Setting up your own business requires approval of the French authorities and consequently involves a substantial amount of bureaucracy both to set up the business and subsequently for the associated paperwork. If you are not fluent in French, you will likely need assistance with the associated forms. Also, unlike the UK or America, it will likely take a substantial amount of time (some months) for the administration to process your forms, so your application to create and register a business should be started well before you intend to start trading.

For self-employed persons it is necessary to register with the appropriate organisations for your trade and for certain professions (e.g. legal, medical) recognised and approved qualifications / certification are required. To determine the requirements for your individual circumstances, a good starting point is the Chambre de Commerce (although do not be surprised if this leads to one or more further organisations to identify and complete the associated requirements and applications).

A word of advice for counsellors - beware of making your status one that will attract a higher level of payments. This has been a mistake that some have made and once stated and registered, it is very difficult to change! Most register as Profession Liberale and offer activities shown on www.verif.fr as "Activités de santé humaine non classées ailleurs".
 

URSSAF

Most of the information you need is on the URSSAF website but it is obviously in French. It may be best to go to the nearest office to you and talk to them instead. There is also information on this website http://www.anpe.fr  

There is a new auto-entrepreneur scheme which makes it much easier to register in France: www.auto-entrepreneur.fr
 

Insurance

Most of us have found it difficult to get professional insurance for France but we are offering details of companies who offer professional insurance for therapists working in France. See THIS PAGE

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