I am Indian, my wife is French. We live in Lyon. I have family residence permit (CDS - Vie privée et familiale) which gives me right to live and work in France, but it doesn't automatically give me right to work in other EU countries. In addition to this, I have auto-entrepreneur status in France.

I want to have the right to work in:

  • Belgium
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Germany

Is it possible for me get the right to work without moving in there with my spouse? Can I get right to work based on my auto-entrepreneur status and French CDS?

Many thanks for your kind help.

  • 2
    Do you want to be able to provide services in those countries (through your auto-entrepreneur business) while remaining established in France with your French spouse, or do you want to move to (one of) those countries to take up employment or to establish a similar entrepreneurship there? If you would be moving, would it be with or without your spouse?
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 20:34
  • 2
    Generally speaking, there is no convenient document that would give you the right to reside and work in all those countries without restrictions. There are many scenarios, you need to be much more specific about you are contemplating. You may be able to work there for a time provided your main residence and place of business are still in France. For starters, that means that you must demonstrate some genuine activity, not merely register as an "auto-enterpreneur", otherwise you won't get the "document A1". Is that the case?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 21:29
  • Related: expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/14450/… Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 22:21
  • 1
    @DavidSupportsMonica that question is indeed related, but there is also a significant difference: here, the third-country spouse already has a residence permit. I also need to refine my previous comment, because in making it I overlooked "without moving in there with my spouse," which resolves much of the uncertainty I expressed. The question therefore seems to be about providing services in those countries as a registered "auto-entrepreneur" in France, which ought to be covered by the EU's freedom of movement of services, but I don't know how it would work bureaucratically.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 7:08
  • @phoog, I do not want to move in there. I want to remain in France but want to have legal right to work (some document that can prove that I have right to work as I have right to work in France) Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 5:05

1 Answer 1


I just re-read this question and noticed that I had overlooked the key phrase "without moving in there with my spouse." This narrows the question somewhat.

It does still leave open the possibility that you wish to move to one of those countries without your spouse. This should in general be possible if you have established "long-term resident" status under directive 2003/109/EC. (The French term is résident de longue durée.) Without that status and without your spouse, you would not have any easier path to a residence permit in any of those countries.

I suppose, however, that the most likely intention behind your question is to be able to work as a self-employed individual for clients in the named countries while remaining in France with your spouse. This would normally fall under freedom to provide services, but there are several possible points of confusion or ambiguity.

Here I should note that I am not a lawyer, and I am more knowledgeable about free movement of persons than about freedom to provide services, so take all of the following with a grain of salt, as it were. It is intended as an introduction to the legal context to help guide you in doing your own research.

First, if you're doing the work in France but some of your clients are in other EU or Schengen countries, you do not need to concern yourself with the right to work in those countries because you're not actually working there. Even going to those countries for meetings with your clients would be a visit for a business purpose rather than work.

You can think of it this way: if it's something that you could do while living in India, you can do it while living in France. If any travel to your clients would be permissible with a short-stay Schengen visa as a business visitor, then you can undertake the same travel without any additional authorization thanks to your having a French residence permit.

Second, if you're traveling to another EU or Schengen country and actually providing your service there, this should be permissible under freedom to provide services. In such cases, the business you're engaged in should legitimately be a service provided to a client and not "bogus self-employment" (this phrase comes from directive 96/71/EC). Whether a relationship with a client is actually an employment relationship probably depends on the national law of the country where the work is being performed.

Switzerland is a slightly different matter because it is not part of the EU. Instead, it has concluded several agreements with the EU with similar provisions, but not identical, and it exercises somewhat tighter control over these matters. There is a notification procedure for short-term workers subject to some minimum amount of time, but it seems that self-employed third-country nationals are excluded (expand "Notification rules" and then "How to submit notification forms"):

The following categories of individuals are authorized to work in Switzerland for up to three months or 90 days per calendar year by virtue of the notification procedure:

  • EU/EFTA nationals who have been employed to work in Switzerland by a company based in Switzerland for a period of up to three months
  • Posted workers from a company based in an EU/EFTA member state, regardless of this worker’s citizenship. Third-state nationals, however, must have been admitted permanently in a labour market of an EU/EFTA member state before being sent to Switzerland. Generally speaking, this criterion is deemed to have been met if the individual has held a standard or permanent residence permit in that country for at least twelve months.
  • Self-employed service providers (EU/EFTA nationals) based in an EU/EFTA member state

So it may be that to have access to the Swiss market you would have to set up a separate company in France. (But remember that business visits such as meetings to support services that you provide remotely from your normal place of business in France probably don't trigger this requirement; it should only apply to work that you actually perform in Switzerland.)

  • 1
    In my experience, potential Swiss employers will require an auto-entrepreneur to provide something called a "document A1". This is not directly linked to citizenship or the right to work in the country but a way for them to prove they have no further obligations regarding health insurance and other social contributions. This in turn creates some bureaucratic hassle in the country where your business is located. Formally, I think you may even be required to carry it even for short visits and business meetings, although it would rarely be checked, especially for white collar work.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 22:39
  • @Relaxed thanks. Would that hold true even for something that's obviously a service, such as with someone who advertises web design services, has several clients, receives a call from a small business in Switzerland, and drafts the contract? I mean the "potential employers" in a case like that don't even necessarily know that they are dealing with a self-employed person until they see the contract.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 6:31
  • 1
    I don't know, I have never been able to find a clear explanation of the rules either, this is based on my experience offering freelance services (and in that case the client often drafts the contract in my experience). But even if you're dealing with a business that clearly provide services and there could be several businesses between the Swiss client and the worker (say a subcontractor, a staffing agency, etc.) I think you may still have some liability if it turns out there is some violation of mandatory insurance rules somewhere along the chain.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 11:20
  • 1
    All these rules are designed with on-site work in mind of course, things like construction sites with several contractors, etc. I am not 100% sure how it would play out in the website case.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 11:24
  • @phoog Thank you so much, your response clears things up for me. Much better than the lawyer who quoted 500 Euro for this advice and made me more confused. I see I can not get any paper showing 'Right to work' in the desired countries but I can exercise genuine Auto Entrepreneur activities without any such paper. In addition to this, I found out that after 5 years of continued residence, I can get EU Carte the Sejour that allows me to live and work in any country without needing any additional paperwork, just like EU nationals. Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 5:12

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