My wife is a French citizen with passport who has recently returned to France after not living here since she was a child. She works full time as a freelance artist, and currently only for American clients. In fact, since moving to France her only job was one for an American client that she started before moving.

As a French citizen, is there anything she needs to do to declare her status in France? There was much good discussion in this question but it's not clear that it applies to her as a citizen. (I would say that even though she's native French this is still an expat issue as she has never worked in France and not lived here as an adult; I am non-citizen and am in France on a work visa currently).

  • 1
    Yes, it applies to her as well. The only difference is that as a French citizen, she does not need to worry about being allowed to work.
    – Gala
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 13:29
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    As you mention 'artist', your wife status might be a little bit different. See service-public.fr/professionnels-entreprises/vosdroits/F22428
    – audionuma
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 13:40
  • 'artist' meaning you produce work over which you keep copyright and get income based on presentation of the work instead of a one shot income (graphics, music, sculpture, ...)
    – audionuma
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 19:45
  • copyright laws might be quite different between USA and Europe.
    – audionuma
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 19:46
  • "artist' meaning you produce work over which you keep copyright and get income based on presentation of the work instead of a one shot income (graphics, music, sculpture, ...)" often time this is true, but not always. I'm just a little confused overall--in the U.S. she never had to officiate anything. Just reported her income and expenses as self-employed come tax time; never even incorporated, though considered it.
    – Iguananaut
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 22:55

2 Answers 2


How to (legally) work as a freelancer in France when you are a french citizen ?

The easiest path is to go to the auto-entrepreneur status. Minimal paperwork. There's a limit on the maximum sales revenue you can make while on this status. You can nevertheless change status if needed (like if fortunately your sales go above the maximum for auto-entrepreneur).

Can I just declare my income ?

No, you can't. Working in France implies some social taxes (retirement, health, ...) that must be payed before the income taxes stage. It means you need some sort of legal status to actually work in France as a freelancer. You will then declare your income for income taxes purposes (with most social taxes taken out).

What if I am an artist ?

In France (as in most of EU I think), there's a special status for 'artists'. What's an artist ? It is someone who is mainly producing art stuff ;-).

Practically, if you are a graphic designer, making a logo for a (client) company, you can either sell them your work and give them all rights to publish, modify, do whatever they want ... (then, you are not an artist) or just give them the right to use this work for a dedicated purpose, asking for more money if they use it in another purpose or context (You are then an artist). There are really different rules in Europe vs USA in this subject, so if that is your case, you should carefully check contract terms.

But in France, it means you will have a different status (artist vs freelancer). As this is related to how much of your income is from 'art' or not, and as current clients are from USA, I would suggest to go into the non-artist path and adapt after a year.

  • In this case my wife is an artist, but I'm still not entirely clear how they're defining that--I've read a few government resources as best I can but the definition of "artist" in terms of how their work is licensed seems odd to me. That said, most of the work she does would fall under "artist" by the definition you gave. Most of her work is her own and she self-publishes. However, currently she is working with a publisher with whom she retains royalty rights though I'm not 100% user the specifics of the contract. It really depends who she's working for...
    – Iguananaut
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 15:17

The US-based French consulates have good resources for what a French national needs to do when repatriating to France. Here is the Los Angeles consular page for specifically this:


The first item in the list (the “simulateur”) will walk her through all the questions about her status (how long she’s been gone, type of degree, whether she has French health insurance, etc.), then will provide a year-long list of administrative items to bring her to compliance with the authorities.

  • I didn't even realize "repatriate" is the word but that makes sense, thanks. We'll try going through this and see if it's useful.
    – Iguananaut
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 16:44
  • This simulator came up with a lot of useful stuff in terms of a checklist, but it didn't seem to answer anything specifically about my question. In fact it didn't say anything at all. For her profession I picked "entrepreneur" since that was the closest option (and if I understand correctly has a slightly different implication in French...?)
    – Iguananaut
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 11:36

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