Auto-Entrepreneur work on Working Holiday Visa?


I have found other WHV holders who were able to do this no problem. It is a matter of registering, so that is what I’m looking to do now. I’ve also emailed my consulate in hopes of clarifying, but have found a number of people in the same situation who have been successful. Thanks for your input!


I am a qualified English language teacher from Australia, about to head over to France in January on the Working Holiday Visa (Program Vacance Travail).

I’m in contact with a potential employer who mentioned that because they are a small company, they work with auto entrepreneurs. I know very little about it, but from what I gather it is the equivalent to working as a sole trader/freelancer?

Am I eligible to find work as an auto-entrepreneur while on the working holiday visa or no?

Any clarification or info would be much appreciated!



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Hmmm, being an auto-entrepreneur is like setting up your own business, so you don’t find work as an AE but you are one. So whether you can set up as an AE with your visa is not obvious. I don’t think you are allowed to take permanent employment contracts or affiliate to the french health system are you? So this could be similar as it opens your rights to benefits.

Weren’t you given info about what you can and can’t do with your visa? France normally loves its administration and buries you in paper. Can you ask the consulate that gave you the visa?

I can’t find anything about it on a quick search either. Sorry.

Amd same question asked two years ago with no response…

Hi Emily and welcome to the community.

As I understand things, with a Working Holiday Visa - you remain a “Tourist who may be Employed” until the Visa ends and you use your Return Ticket to go back home.

I reckon the WHVisa does NOT entitle you to “change your status” from Tourist to “Self-Employed-Registered-in-the French System” … or such a possibility would be clearly mentioned in the Working Holiday Visa details… :thinking:

However, I’m sure others will add their thought on this topic.

Thanks for the welcome, Stella!

I am not looking to change my status from my current visa, but if I have the right to work on my visa I wonder if that means I have the right to freelance?

This job is right down my alley and would be a shame to have to turn it down. There’s so little info on it so I appreciate your input!

Thanks again


Hi Jane,

Thanks for your feedback! That link was quite helpful too, I appreciate it!

The only information about what I can/can’t do with my visa is that : “It allows you to exercise a salaried activity on an ancillary basis, without prior authorization from the French administration.” (this is newly provided on the website, as I understand it there has been some upgrading and changes happening over the past year or so).

I got my visa from the consulate in Sydney and they do not have a phone number to call or the option of turning up just to ask questions (visa and passport application appointments only). I wasn’t aware of this auto-entrepreneur thing until recently so I didn’t think to ask at the time of my appointment.

I’ll have to keep searching, thank you for the info!


As others have said, you wouldn’t be allowed to set up a business on a working holiday visa.
Also as jj said, there is a big difference between being self employed, ie investing in and developing your own business by marketing a specific range of services to clients, and being an employee ie working to develop your employer’s business. Often when an “employer” says they “work with freelancers”, what they mean is they need people to work in their business but they want to avoid the responsibilities that come with being an employer, such as paying social taxes. The French Labour Code classes that as fraud.

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This is not the first time a query such as this has arisen… but I cannot understand why folk are confused… :thinking:

Working Holiday Visas are granted with a minimum of checks and whistles. But, they are granted for a specific purpose - tourism/culture/travel/adventure for the young. The holder agrees to conform with the conditions applicable to the Visa.
“with the right to work occasionally, so as to supplement your financial resources in situ.”

Setting oneself up in business/self-employed in a foreign country, is not at all the same thing as holiday-making there … :zipper_mouth_face:

Employers who are not prepared to make a WHV holder a temporary employee… should not be considered… :zipper_mouth_face: in my view…

Many WHVisa holders take seasonal work in bars/cafés/hotels/vineyard/orchards/ etc etc etc… as and when their financial situation dictates… all part of the cultural-adventure :hugs:

good luck with your holiday here in France… @Emily_Brien

As with most things in France, there are the legal absolutes, and the reality. This is becoming an ever increasing reality in the language teaching business (can’t speak for other areas). Private teaching institutions (and even former state organisations that have a language teaching wing, such as the Chambers of Commerce) are preferring to use “autoentrepreneurs” or “portage salarial” employees, instead of offering them true salaried work. The fact that it may be “salariat déguisé” will only be of any importance if someone blows the whistle on the employer, as most of the people that work for such organisations as teachers are in economic precarity and can’t afford a lawyer to defend them before the employment tribunal, or afford to lose their sole source of revenue.

This is the critical phrase.

An AE is not salaried… I think what this means in French administration-speak is that you can work on a CDD basis, which is a “contrat à durée déterminée”, and not a CDI or other forms of business.

I think people are confused because there is a lack of information. Yes, the holder of a WHV agrees to the right to work occasionally to supplement travel, and working as a freelancer is one way to do that. For the majority, this certainly does not mean setting up a long-term business in a foreign country. Remote work, for example, allows location flexibility while traveling!

I’m looking forward to gaining more ESL teaching experience when I arrive, AE status or not :smiley:

Thanks again!

Anyone who wants to come and “work” in France , should apply for the appropriate Visa… ( a Working Holiday Visa is not the same thing)

Nope… working as a “freelancer” is not the same as working as a WHVisa Holder, a tourist employed on temporary basis to top up funds…

A “freelancer” has to be registered with French Authorities and has to have gone through the bureaucratic hoops to be legally able to “freelance”. (Residence/Health/Tax/Social etc etc etc)

I rather think you are not understanding the information on the French Govt sites.


  • if you are salaried, you will have a short-term contract, known as a CDD, long term (CDI) contracts being excluded from the working holiday visa because the work wouldn’t then be “ancillary”. Typically, these contracts are seasonal worker types - such contracts do exist in France for teaching English, but they are in marked decline because of the risk of them being repeated over the longer period (e.g. every year) and then potentially allowing the employee to claim permanent contract status, and also because it costs the organisation social contributions, which most would rather not pay ;
  • if you are self-employed, or freelancer as you put it, then you need to be able to bill the organisation that is contracting your services in order to get paid. That in turn requires you to have set yourself up as self-employed in the relevant system, which in this case would normally be France, unless you have set up your teaching activity business in a different country and are using that to bill the client - either way, you will need to show that you have some kind of business registration in order to get paid. However, there is the distinct probability that a French teaching organisation would not be willing to contract work out to a non-EU based business entity (self-employed or otherwise) as it would raise a whole lot of other issues internally (VAT, withholding tax, jurisdictional, etc). I’m not saying that this would be impossible, but well, most organisations would probably not want to take the risk;
  • you might get a seasonal job as an au pair, personal help or chalet staff, with cash in hand English-teaching on the side from local families if you are good at networking - cash in hand jobs in France are still available, but like pretty much any country with any sort of bureaucracy, they are also pretty much illegal ( disguised employment, no VAT collected, etc) - whilst this might work at a personal and local level in a small area, anything with any sort of organisational structure is going to struggle to be able to offer you work on such terms because the risk for them is too great.
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I know Alex, i tutored for a traininc organisaton for many years as an ae and I knew it was a grey area, we all did. I imagine DIRECCTE know too, and are biding their time until they decide it’s gone far enough and folk need reminding of the rules, and then they’ll have another crackdown. That is the recurring pattern. DIRECCTE are proacive as well as reactive, they employ a whole department of inspectors to combat illegal labour and they have targets to meet, they don’t just sit there waiting for a complaint to come in.
By the way there would be no question of employees needing lawyers to defend them. The fraud is all on the employer side. Their employées are always regarded as the innocent victims who have been abused and the employer coulld be required to put them on an employment contract retrospectively and compensate them accordingly. In theory once they’ve been requalified as employées they can’t easily be sacked. But of course if the business really can’t afford them, everyone will lose their livelihood as you say.

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But of course if the business really can’t afford them, everyone will lose their livelihood as you say.

and therein lies the structural issue at the heart of the question…

@Emily - there you go, a foretaste of French culture and the French mindset on workers rights before you even set off😀

Indeed. Finding that elusive balance between worker protection and stifling employment. France goes too far one way, the UK goes too far the other way (imho).

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Hi Emily,

I’m from Australia as well, and moved to France in Jan on a WHV. I currently teach English with an auto-entrpreneurs status so yes, it can be done.

All the best!!


Hey Emily,

I am wanting to do the same thing as you. Enter France on the PVT (working holiday visa as an Australian) and then set up the auto-entrepreneur.

Since you wrote this post did you managed to do so and do you have any advice for someone wanting to do the same?

Thanks in advance :slight_smile:


Hey @Vee , do you have any advice for an Australian moving to France on a WHV and wanting to get auto-entrepreneurs status?
Thanks in advance!