Embarrassed to be asking for advice

I’ve learnt a lot from the various conversations on here, but all the time I’ve been looking for someone in a similar situation to us – which I assumed would be very typical but seems not to be. In brief, we moved to France in September on a year’s visitor’s visa, on the grounds that this would be our principal residence. It’s now time to apply for our first year’s residence, carte vitale, etc. Our problem seems to be that we’re living a pre-Brexit lifestyle in a post-Brexit world. I work remotely, full time, for a charity in the UK, returning to the UK for a week or so each month to see colleagues. I currently pay UK tax via PAYE and assume I should switch to paying tax here, now that the French house is, as I said, our principal residence (our UK house is let). But acquaintances, who earlier suggested that this would be quite straightforward, now suck their teeth. I clearly need professional advice, but it would be good to have a steer from anyone who has negotiated their way through something similar.

Welcome Paul!

I can’t help with your question but I just wanted to say there is absolutely no need to be embarrassed and it is great you are joining us.


how kind! thank you

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Horribly complicated!

When you got your visitor’s visa did you have to sign a statement that you wouldn’t work? Because I think what you are doing could very well be illegal working. France does not recognise digital nomads in any way. There is a category for frontaliers who work in another country and live here - with a small tolerance for doing a bit of work here - but actually “work” outside France.

The basic principal is if you work when physically in France then you (or your employer) must pay your taxes and social charges here. And if you are resident in France you must fill in a tax return giving details of your worldwide income so this will be obvious. As you moved in September you will shortly have to submit the return for 2022.

There are ways to do this, but they are complex and/or expensive.


Yes, but we took that to mean that we wouldn’t do French work, as it were, i.e. take employment from a French national - which, of course, we’re not. Is there an explanation anywhere about how to regularise this?

You are going to be a bit stuck I’m afraid - the post Brexit reality is that any work undertaken while physically in France is verboten (or rather interdit) unless your visa allows work - which I’m guessing it doesn’t.

Start here Travel to France for work - GOV.UK, it probably won’t be easy but if you are persistent you might find a way to accomplish what you want.

I suspect the best bet is “self employment” in France, offering services to a UK “client” - you’ll probably have to negotiate an uplift in fees as compared to wages (aim for the full cost of employing you in the UK - i.e including any employers NI or pension contributions).

At least, given your plan to move in September there might (just) be enough time to get it sorted.


I’m getting the impression Paul doesn’t mind this bit. But he has to be able to legally undertake work in the first place which is where the sticking point is at the moment as far as I can see.

I gently suggest you look back at your original Application for whichever Visa you eventually received…
check any and all paperwork appertaining to it… make sure you fully understand every aspect…
especially what you can and can’t legally do…

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You do. May I suggest, though my pals on here may be outraged, you forget 2022 ever happened and plan a “new” move to la belle France, following all the rules, in 2023. After all, you have only been on vacation :shushing_face: It could be a lot simpler for you, and for the French authorities.


Many thanks for the advice so far. It’s been difficult reading after ‘Horribly complicated’. I feel foolish for having thought that our situation of remote working in England must be hugely common and workable, and aghast that we’re doing something illegal and - more alarming - something that appears unsustainable, having established our new life here over the past four months.

Far better to focus on finding a solution or solutions and consider @John_Scully’s advice as well.

Also any forum will come with some possibly alarmist advice.

I remember asking about our fuel tank years ago and following some alarming comments I spent the night worrying the tank and our house would blow up.

It turned out we were not in danger at all…

That is not to say your situation might not be complicated but that doesn’t mean it will be impossible.

Good luck.


The link below might help. Incidentally Spain and Portugal have recently introduced special visas to attract digital nomads.

6+ ways to work as Digital nomad in France - Relocate.World

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Quite agree…
@PaulH have you checked through your original Visa Application stuff… to clarify your position???

Thanks, Stella - I suspect that the sentence that my wife and I both had to write in the visa office in London: ‘I will not work in France’ confirms what has been said above, and that we interpreted it incorrectly to mean ‘I will not take a French job’

Fair enough… in which case… can you apply for a different Visa which will allow you to work… ???
Are you able to return to UK while this is being processed (if necessary) ???

EDIT: are you known at your local Mairie… if so, maybe they can advise/help you if you admit to having made an honest mistake…

Ah, I thought that you hadn’t arrived yet.

I am wondering which visa you obtained.

Most people who move on a visa that does not allow them to work, get a VLS-TS. Is this what you have? If so I am confused how you arrived in September and are applying for your “first year"s residence” in February because I thought the visa had to be validated within three months of arrival, and the renewal process started three months before expiry? So are you on a different type of visa and if so, which?

I think the reason people are not allowed to work is partly as you say to protect the jobs market but also because the social security burden would potentially be too great. Normally a person who lives and works in France is covered by French social security, which gives entitlement to chomage etc, and France cannot afford to extend this to all comers who may be in precarious employment and likely to be high maintenance. Equally it does not want people living and working here without full social security cover. So applications for working visas are vetted carefully.

I didn’t want to alarm you, it was just it was getting late last night so couldn’t really expand on my phrase

In tha short term is there anyway you can rearrange your work hours travel pattern so you do your work outside France (or the vast majority!) and essentially turn into to a frontalier? There are a couple of people on here who are frontaliers so hopefully can explain.

There are three others options that could potentially be possible. But as far as I know all require you to have a different visa that allows you to work here.

  1. Your employer sets up to meet French labour laws, which essentially means paying tax and NI here which will be expensive for them. This explains it


And there is now a simplified system for this, but big issue is whether your employer would be prepared to do this.

  1. You set up a self -employed business and your employer becomes your client. Which would require basically starting from 0, and making a new visa application (you can apply from here but would have to return to the UK for the interview). To be classes as self wmployed you need either ro have more than one client or to be able to demonstrate that your relationship with this charity is not employer-employee but a self employed indépendant contractor (sub text also that you would look dor others)

3 Portage salarial. Essential you contract to a French umbrella company. This will cost you a chunk of your salary and not sure what visa you need.


The link Mark provided was for other visa options that work well for artists etc, but still need another visa.

And be very careful about this:

URSAFF protect French rights ferociously and illegal working is something they take seriously. Do not stick your head above the parapet until you have a plan, and preferably have professional advice.

It was, pre-Brexit, as British nationals had the right to work in the EU.


This seems like potentially a very good idea. People can so easily talk themselves into terrible trouble in life in a quest to be ‘all above board’, which is not to say I advocate people choosing to do the wrong thing, but often I see things (including on here) both as a regular human being and as someone who has to deal with the law every day and think that the ‘whiter than white’ brigade aren’t necessarily helping in a practical sense even if with the best of intentions. It’s a fine line, and an interesting issue.


Agree. Which is why I think the best option is to reshuffle travel and work hours now so at least feasible that all work is done outside France whilst still being here the majority of time. And then take the time to rethink the new approach and start again.

This is an extract from a global company’s labour section


Cross-Border Remote Work FAQs France

Published: © June 3rd, 2021

Assume that a foreign national employee of a foreign company wishes to work remotely for a period of time in your country performing services exclusively for the foreign company and not interacting with the local market in your country.

Work authorisation

A. Is work authorisation required? If so, please provide a brief description of the type of visa, procedure, processing time, etc.

Unless fitting into a limited specific category of exceptions, such as those provided by the Brexit withdrawal agreement or the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, work authorisations are required for all work (even remote work) in France and regardless of whether or not such work interacts with the local market.

There are numerous types of visas that can be applied for through French consular services. It is important to apply for the one that is most appropriate for an individual’s personal and professional situation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, only the “Passeport Talent” visa (European Blue Card) allows for entry into France.

Once the elements of the dossier have been provided to the immigration authorities, the standard processing time for a visa is a minimum of 3-6 weeks. The required elements vary from one type of visa to another. There are minimum remuneration requirements in addition to the standard identification elements (birth certificates, ID, diplomas, CV, marriage and divorce certificates, etc.).Please note that not all visas grant the right to work