How do I freelance in France?
October 18, 2006 10:38 PM   Subscribe

What's the easiest way for a Canadian citizen to live and work in France for a few years earning a living doing freelance web work?

I've been reading up on the different types of work permits and visa's and the French system is quite intimidating. If need be I could try and get a job with a company but that seems like even more paperwork, and something I'd really rather not do.
posted by futureproof to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not to sound flippant, but its intimidating for a reason - they really don't want foreigners working there! Seriously, France has persistently high unemployment and the government would - naturally - prefer that any jobs created be filled by citizens, with long term ties to the nation.

Now that being said, some countries have special visa programs specifically to attract foreginers. I'm familiar with England's the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, which grants people with specific skills a "fast track" to a work permit.

You might want to see if France has something equivalent. If not you mention getting a job with a company - that's typically the easiest and least painful route (and how I came to live in Europe). The firm or their solicitors handle all the paperwork which included the necessary advertisements - typically across the entire EuroZone - that insure nobody presently in Europe can do the job you're being hired for.

Otherwise if you search the archives someone recently posted about living in Europe on tourist visas, and he was also doing work via telecommuting. It wasn't possible for him to reside in any one country for an extended period (you mention a few years in France), but I though it was a pretty neat way to live / work in Europe and not be fixed in one location.

Best of luck!
posted by Mutant at 11:33 PM on October 18, 2006

I found the post to an American's story of living and working in Europe on tourist visas. You might want to drop him/her a line and see how they're getting on. As I said in that thread, that would be a wonderful adventure, and a way to see large parts of Europe.
posted by Mutant at 11:54 PM on October 18, 2006

You can get a "travel VISA" if you're under 35 that lets you work in France for 1 year. It might be renewable.... See here and here.
posted by rumbles at 12:39 AM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I am eligible for, and had looked into the travel visa but would really like to stay longer than a year. I hadn't given much thought to country jumping but depending on how many other EU countries have similar working visa's I may give that a shot.
posted by futureproof at 2:02 AM on October 19, 2006

I spent 2 years trying to do this legitimitely - my wife lived in France all of her life and her entire immediate family are residents there - but they are Swiss - we still couldn't get a carte de sejour/carte d'enterprise. We went with a large amount of money to start a business - this made absolutely no difference either.

ON the other hand, I have friends who have been living and working there for 4 years who didn't even attempt to legitimise (after they saw what we had to deal with) - and they've had no problems (mind you they are highly sought after in their vocations - graphistes).

Go black, sans papiers - it will be save you soooooo much undue stress.
posted by strawberryviagra at 4:20 AM on October 19, 2006

Are any of your recent ancestors (grandparents) british or irish (or from another EU country)? If so, maybe you qualify for that country's citizenship, making it much easier (as a EU citizen) to settle in France.
posted by bluefrog at 5:10 AM on October 19, 2006

I absolutely agree with strawberryviagra. I've lived and worked in a variety of EU countries. The French system is deiberately difficult.
While I love Bluefrog's solution I can confirm that they even make it difficult for other Europeans. Despite the fact that we should have free movement and rights to work in France for, oh, the last 33 years, a friend spent the first 10 months of her stay going from one office to the next in an almost fruitless search to get her carte de sejour. Now as the holder of an Irish passport and a fluent French speaker she certainly didn't expect this level of hassel.
Try one of the bordering countries and commute to work in France, you could live in the wonderful city of Freiburg and pop across the border in 30 minutes!
posted by Wilder at 6:36 AM on October 19, 2006

Response by poster: I'd given some thought to trying this without papers but I'm not sure how i'd get out past customs after a few years. The main goal I have here is to live in the city of Paris or somewhere on the southern coast like Nice so commuting defeats the purpose.

My mother recently moved to England to work and she was able to do so as her grandparents were born there which doesn't do much good for me. Also, I hear they are phasing out this option.
posted by futureproof at 2:20 PM on October 19, 2006

It's actually unlikely you'll even get a stamp in your passport - while the French fonctionnaire are experts at pedantry, they're Douane colleagues almost always let them down.

I have entered and exited many times without any stamps (through Charles de Gaule) in my passport.
posted by strawberryviagra at 9:27 PM on October 19, 2006

that should read: their Douane colleagues ... (talk about pedantry!)
posted by strawberryviagra at 12:22 AM on October 20, 2006

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