Working remotely in France with USA clients

I am a US citizen and plan to be in France next year and will be working remotely with US clients. Any problem with that?

I hope to live there year-round in an apartment I own in Rouen. I think I may have to go to London every three - six months to reset the clock on my visa.

What visa will you be on?
How is going to London going to reset the clock? (If you’re on a short stay visa the rule is 90 days in a 180-day period. A quick trip to London and back after 89 days days in France won’t give you another 90 days within the same 180 day period. You would have to spend quite a bit of time in London and work the dates out carefully.
Apologies if I’ve misunderstood - the details provided were quite brief :wink:

I don’t have any kind of special visa at the moment. I own an apartment in Normandy and hope to be living there for two years - maybe longer.

As a US Citizen you will have to apply for a visa to work in France, owning an apartment gives you no rights. By working while in France you will be liable for French tax wherever your clients are. Will you be liable for US taxes as well?

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Thank you - and Anna - for your responses.

I am liable for taxes in the USA. At least I assume so. I’ve never worked on the road as I anticipate I will be doing.

I am semi-retired and will be doing work sporadically as a virtual assistant to US citizens while I am in France. I also will be traveling quite a bit while in Europe, so I wonder how the taxes are figured. By where I say I live (the majority of the year)?

Can you say a bit more about how owning an apartment gives me rights?

Oh, and I am a landlady in California, so I will be collecting rent from tenants as well.

So I will have three income streams: Social Security from USA, tenant income from USA and consulting fees from US clients.


If you meet the criteria for fiscal residence in France then you will need to declare worldwide income in France. That doesn’t mean you will be taxed twice on everything, although it’s possible some things might be. I’ve heard that the US government doesn’t let go easily. The France-US tax treaty will specify what kind of income is taxed where.

I think the first thing to do is read the French criteria for residence

the second thing to do is to study the France-USA tax treaty, and the third thing to do, if you think you’ll be deemed fiscally resident in France and the tax situation doesn’t look punitive, is to figure out what visa you could get.

To answer your first question - no, legally it is not normally OK for a fiscal resident of France to work self-employed in France without being registered as a business and paying social security contributions here (after all you’ll want health cover here and in the rest of Europe won’t you?). Where your clients are makes no difference, it’s where you are that matters. Being resident in France brings obligations as well as rights, and paying into the social security system if you’re living and working here is one of those obligations. That said, anecdotally, the authorities will turn a blind eye to US citizens who are only here for a year or so. But if you’re seeing this as an open-ended arrangement I don’t know if it will fly.

I’m not aware of how owning an apartment gives you any rights, apart from that it might help in getting a visa in the sense that it’ll be easy to prove you have a place to live. It might also be a complication if you apply for a visitor visa in that it might lead to suspicions that you might be intending to stay indefinitely.

Once you’ve got a clear picture in your mind about residence and taxes and visas, you need to start speaking to your consulate. As a non EU citizen (I assume you don’t also have an EU passport?) you don’t have “freedom of movement” and getting a visa is not merely a formality, it can be a major hurdle - your consulate will want to see all your financial details to understand how you’re going to support yourself while you’re here, and they’ll want to understand what your reasons are for wanting to visit France and how long you’ll be staying. From what you’ve said, I’m not sure which visa you might qualify for.


Sorry, a typo. Owning an apartment gives you no rights.


It may not give me any rights, but I hope it helps me get a long term visa more easily. One can hope!

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Hi Anna,

So very helpful. I will do the research you suggest. I have awhile to do it, but I want to get on top of it, so I have all my ducks in a row, all my fromage in the fridge! Thanks.

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Cheese in the fridge? How very American.

I keep cheese (and fromage) in the fridge too - what’s wrong with that?

Ha ha ha. I have learned to take it out 30 minutes before serving.

It completely ruins the cheese, dries it out and destroys the character and flavour. I only buy enough cheese to last a couple of days to eat. Only buy from shops that store un refrigerated (no supermarkets) and wrap cheeses in paper not plastic. I store my cheese in a garde manger

Depending on the cheese of course but as said, a lot of cheeses especially artisan cheeses are better if not kept in the fridge.
And apart from that, again depending on the cheese - they can make your fridge stink!

I have so much to learn! (One reason I need a long-term visitor’s visa)

Diana, depending on where you live in the USA (I’m also in the USA going to live in France.) it is wise to make an appointment with your nearest French Consulate. Many have good luck in SF, others in Miami. We know we have to apply for a Carte de Sejour, which is a long-term Visa and one that has to be renewed (but can be done within Fr. once you are there, and with 3 months to go on said visa till expiry) annually. Owning property in Fr. is good for the address that you will be living at (no matter that you intend to travel widely in Europe). You will have to show income to say that you can support yourself. Again, what others have said, and looking at the Fr. Govt. website is REALLY important. Do not try to circumvent the process, or you could be deported, and then your dream is dead! If your primary address is in France, then you will have to declare worldwide taxes (I do that now, and it isn’t a problem) and get yourself an accountant. If you are working, you will also need to become an ‘Auto Entrepreneur’ for tax purposes. You may not end up paying much in the way of taxes, if you don’t earn a lot, but it is essential to have the right tax designation. I highly suggest you join a FB group such as Americans in France, or similar, who live in France, have gone through the process and can answer other questions. Your #1 resource, however, should be any official website, where you will get the correct information. Good luck.

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Hi Monica,

Thank you so much for this detailed response. Yes, I’m in the SF Bay Area, so I am lucky to be near a French Consulate. I will look into all of this. I know others have gone before me.

I must say I am nervous about (at least) two things. (1) How much money they think I need to live on and (2) that they say not to apply until three months before the move. I’d like to plan now for a move in twelve months and their schedule - starting the application process three months in advance of a move - feels like it will not give me much time to know their decision.

Diana, I have a couple of suggestions:

You take the time to go to France and find a home to buy, within the allotted 90 days of the visa, and though most people say the process takes about 3 months to complete, it is one way to gain the all important Address, which is needed for your Carte de Sejour.

The other way to do this, is to find a Gite or other accommodation that you can rent, and get the landlord (friend of otherwise) to write a note, as per requirements, stating that you are the tenant from this date onwards, for X months (yrs etc) and have this notarized (and in French) to present at the time of your application.

As you HAVE to have an address to go to…you cant just go there for a year and travel around, it appears, and you want to live there anyway, this is the route we figured we would take, when we have finally sold our home here.

Applying 3 months out is the only way, it appears, but some get their Carte within 5 -6 weeks, and you get the Carte in hand at the time of Interview, I understand. I also understand that you can ask them to add the date of your departure from the USA to the Carte, so you have the correct time allotted. The Carte has to be validated at the Airport in France upon entry, and you then have to reapply for the extension IN FRANCE within 3 months of it expiring. You will have to do this each year for five years, until you can apply for permanent residence there.

I don’t know if Macron is going to change anything…one can hope! It all seems so pointless, all the waiting and the bureaucracy takes SOO long to do anything.

I do know that you want to reapply for the extension in a larger city, as they will get more applications, and therefore be more up-to-date that some of the smaller centers, with any changes in information in regard to the Visa processes.

Keep us informed!


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Oh my. Well, to complicate things a bit, I already own an apartment in Rouen. I now have a French tenant there whose lease is up in 18 months. I understand I need to give him six months notice to vacate, which I will do a year from now. And, although I will give him six months notice, I suspect he will leave sooner and that is when I would like to move into the apartment. When I bought it I got a Attestion from the Notaire saying that I own the place, but I have never lived there.

I do have a French friend or two that would probably let me use their address if needs be.