Currently an LTD in UK - Taking business to France.... views?

Hi all,
A few years off yet (at least 5) but we have been pondering what it might entail.

Flo and I run a small business developing and marketing radio-controlled model boat kits and associated parts and fittings. It is currently a limited company here in the UK and we are below the VAT threshold.

Once we move to France permanently, this will be our main income. Currently, it is something we do in our spare time as I have a well-paid full time job.

How best would the collective here advise that we bring our company to France? Would we be advised to go down the AE route? Keep the LTD in the UK? Nearly all our business is done on-line and through specialist shows (of which there are many in Europe).

I realise that we may need specialist advise in this area and if anyone has a recommendation it would be gratefully received, but at this time we are looking for any views or experiences from those that might have gone before us.

Many thanks in advance!

We have lived full time in France since 2004 and I was advised to leave my UK ltd company in the UK with tax returns completed in the UK and the results shared with the French impots.
The company is also VAT registered and the revenue where happy for the Owner/Director to have French Residence but to use our British accountants address as our registered office address but all correspondence is done online so that does not cause any problems.
Hope that helps Carl and feel free to pm me if you need any advice.


Any work that you do while physically in France, even if it’s using the phone or internet to deal with UK clients is considered to be work based in France and is taxable here.


Assuming you do the work in France then the UK Ltd remaining active isn’t really an option - the basic principle would be work here - pay the taxes etc here. I still have a UK company - but I leave France do the project and return - the little bits I do whilst physically in France go through my AE to keep clear water. In some ways I’m tied to a couple of contracts and they like the UK company and the £10 million insurance I have to carry as part of that project would be exorbitant as a French AE- but given I’m project based somewhere in the world it works for me.

HMRC don’t care - its tax for them - its the French who’ll get miffed if they think your working in France and not paying proper taxes here.

A UK Ltd is fine if you own shares and don’t do the work - ie contract it out - or leave France to do the work.

AE is the simple option - there are drawbacks - tax/social charges are on turnover not profit - although in theory the tax/social rates are meant to reflect your expected costs - the other obvious difference you trade as “you” personally - not as a separate legal entity such as the UK Ltd regardless of branding etc…

You can set up a SARL but its a lot more expensive in every respect than a UK company and unlikely to help at your levels of income from the company.

Tax wise - the French declaration is pretty vague - how much PAYE how much “unearned” (Dividends) - no questions about who the employer is so there’s nothing to shout to the French tax man its a bit iffy. But tax wise the advantages of UK companies are slowly vanishing - by the time they’ve hit you in the UK with Dividend tax - the French have taken their cut in Social Charges there’s nothing much in it.

I guess if you want to blag it there’s nothing on the tax form that gives you away - but like speeding its fine until you get caught.

Once resident you have to do a French return - so as before you declare wages and dividends - dividends are treated as “unearned” and social charges are levied - 8-10%'ish I think from memory. wages are looked at as earned so assuming you do the usual wages up to the PAYE limit thats well below tax thresholds - its the dividends that attract social charges.