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The Big Move: France

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The Big Move: France

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French bureaucracy is a mine field so we sought help from a French accountant. He explained the process of registering our business, where we should go to register the business as there are many Government organisations who deal with different company types, as well as other very useful advice about taxation.

People didn?t know whether we were brave or down right stupid. We had recently bought a barn to convert into our dream Holiday home in the peace and tranquillity of the rural France. Soon afterwards we came up with the idea of selling up and moving to France to improve our quality of life.

With this idea in mind, we put our house on the market expecting it to take six months to sell giving us time to get organised. Much to our absolute amazement we sold our house within two weeks so there was no turning back. In 2000 with a six month old baby, no home of our own, no planning permission for our barn, minimal funds, a business idea and the dream of a better life we moved to Northern France.

We quickly learnt that having a basic knowledge of French really wasn?t enough and it was imperative to make an attempt at learning the language. I joined an English Association and joined the group who were taught by a French teacher. Not only did I make new friends but I also met other like minded people.

With my new found knowledge, I set about registering our business, La Garde-Maison; a property management company looking after Holiday Homes and Gites including garden and gardening services as well as liaising with local artisans.

French bureaucracy is a mine field so we sought help from a French accountant. He explained the process of registering our business, where we should go to register the business as there are many Government organisations who deal with different company types, as well as other very useful advice about taxation.

The Chambre de Metier was the appropriate Government office for us to visit. With the help of a translator, the appointment was made and the appropriate personal paperwork was collated e.g. Passports, Marriage Certificate, Bank Account details, etc.

Once the business had been registered the ball started rolling. We received our SIRET number (Company number), medical cards (Carte Vitale), Pension rights, the different contribution bills and tax forms for completion at the end of the tax year.

The first year was difficult as all of the payments were estimated earnings (you pay according to your earnings) so we paid a lot of money in contributions. Even if you don?t actually earn anything you are still have to pay the relevant contributions. Once the first tax form had been submitted the contributions decrease and things started to run more smoothly.

In my experience, it is imperative to use a translator if you are having difficulty with any documents, etc. The French do love their paperwork and there are forms for everything. Seek advice from the experts as you will give you the correct information that is relevant to you. It is difficult in the early years but it is worth the effort to live your dream.

Eight years on we are still here, still working, still happy and so glad that we made the move, even though at times it has been a bumpy ride. Bon chance!

Eleanor Bowmaker
La Garde-Maison
Pays de la Loire

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