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Auto entrepreneurs & health service

Saintly Tim

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Some time

ago there was a thread concerning this issue (“Reunica” 2009) but comments were

speculative because the auto entrepreneur system was just getting going. Is

there a more recent discussion anybody can point me to? If not, I would welcome

any comment on my situation.

I will be moving permanently to France in about

6 months. I will be 62 (so no entitlement as a British pensioner) and, as I

have been living off my occupational pension and savings for the last 3 years,

I have insufficient recent National Insurance contributions to cover me for an

interim period (despite 40 years of contributions previously!).  Paying for private insurance cover is

obviously an option, but I plan to register as an auto entrepreneur anyway. I

foresee only a small income from this for the first 12 months, but wonder if I

would nevertheless be able to register for the health system.
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M. Hollande is reputedly no fan of AE as it is seen (by some) as a threat to trained artisans.  In your shoes, I'd wait - if I could - for the outcome of the elections and then I'd see which way the wind was blowing before commiting myself.  Unless your business is a sure-fire winner, I'd be a little wary of banking upon it to bring you your healthcare. 

On the other hand, the PS, at the time, was very supportive of our pleas to be allowed to contribute to the state healthcare scheme when we were arguing for exisisting residents to be allowed to remain in CMU.  But what happens once people are in power (if that should be the outcome) is another matter entirely.

Watch this space, imho.

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Whoever gets in will be trying to find ways to plug the gap in the finances of the Health system. Sarkozy is more likely to cut services and involve the private sector even more, including piling extras onto the Mutuelles.

Given the fact he would be under pressure from the FN after their score yesterday some of their nasty little policies may creep in, such as refusing the AME to non-French people unless it is a question of life or death.

"Il faut donc agir, pour préserver l’accès de tous les Français aux soins "

"Instaurer un délai de carence d’un an de résidence continue en France

et de cotisation avant de bénéficier de tous les avantages de la

Sécurité sociale. Supprimer l’AME (aide médicale d’Etat) réservée aux migrants

clandestins" et "Créer un observatoire des droits sociaux des étrangers

et de l’usage des conventions bilatérales de soins".

Hollande is more likely to keep services but raise cha
rges or taxes, and is of course his party represent all the vested interests of bureaucracy.

He is more likely to attack the AE system as it represents all that is anathema to the dirigistes, individual initiative

In either case it will become harder to get into the system and it will cost more to be in it.

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He is more likely to attack the AE system as it represents all that is anathema to the dirigistes, individual initiative.

So sad but so so true, and its such an extremely rare commodity in France as it is.

Only today I had to go through the procedure that I have endured thousands of times before at Brico-depot, asking for a facture.

Commune? (Vendeuse)

Troudeculdemondeville! (Me, but I actually give the correct village)

Ca n"existe pas

Oui ça existe, c'est un probleme avec votre logiciel, ce n'est pas dans le bon endroit, il faut continuer au bout.

Oh la la la la la la!


I pronounce my surname correctly, enfin incorrectly, I now pronounce it as most French do despite it being a word they would learn in maternelle and pronounce correctly at that age, I also then repeat the four letters with the correct pronunciation, the first being "B", 99% of the time they type in "P" or "T", then I repeat all the letters again beginning "B" pour bravo etc, this usually takes around 10 corrections but they refuse to let me write my own name.


Now I have lost the will to live and the people behind are starting their own oh la la la la la la's, muttering about foreigners etc, I tell her c'est pas grave, ça suffira avec mon nom et le commune comme d'habitude.


After 7 years of the same experience 1000's of times its wearing a bit thin [:(] 

Once I bought 200 prises murales from Castorama, they were ordered in for me and were in 4 sealed boxes clearly marked 50 sockets per box, but the cashier wanted to count every one of them, so she opened each box, took each and every one out to count, I could not even persuade her that she could just verify that there were 5 rows of 5 plugs on 2 layers in each box and it would take but a second to verify that there were 50 in each box, but no she didnt have the droite, when I complained she rang her supervisor who confirmed yes she did have to count every one.

Of course the (non) question she asked him/her was "I do have to count every one of these dont I!"

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Yup.  I too recognise all of those (although I cannot remember ever buying 200 of anything.)

We could regale you with thousands of such tales between us, I suspect, but it's the way he tells 'em.

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I remember asking for strawberry ice-cream once.

"Ca n'existe pas " I was told.

I felt that this was a rather extreme statement until I realised she meant that she hadn't got any...

Apologies for the thread drift.

To the OP:

At the moment you can get what is supposed to be immediate health cover by starting an  AE business, though actually getting the card can be a long process.

On the other hand whether this will continue, and if the rules will change seems up on the air.

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Having said that, I believe that AE is simply a simplification of accounting procedures.  There's nothing to stop you, afaik, opening up a business under another scheme.  It's just going to cost you more, especially to start with.  It's just my point of view but I can't imagine that any party (well, apart from the extreme ones) will chuck anybody out who can legitimately earn a living here.  Unless France leaves the EU it's unlikely they'd be allowed to anyway. 

It's the to-ing and fro-ing whilst such things are sorted that will be the most unsettling aspect of all this.  As I said before, in your shoes I'd stay put until after the shakedown.  Even then, as the "lifers" know, things can change.  Don't rely on anything staying the same.

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So far, so good, and I note the warnings about what may happen in the future (and the frustrations of French bureaucracy!). I don't need to rely on the AE route for health care (I might take out private insurance anyway as i have some income from my occupational pension) but I like to know all my options! I don't see my business as ever bringing in a substantial income, so other possible schemes, with more complex accounting procedures, are not attractive.

Has anybody actually successfully registered with the French health care system through an AE business that wasn't initially making a profit (not enough to live on at least)? If so, what problems did you encounter? Any info from personal experience would be much appreciated.

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Come on Albert, where are you!? Or indeed anyone else with some experience of the process.....

The talk a while ago was that lots of ex-pats would use AE as a way into the health service, with much opinion that it was too good to be true, or even slightly unethical. Perhaps that hasn't come to pass after all?

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I am not an expert, but I recall reading that if you are as near to UK State retirement age as you are, it might be preferable to take out private health insurance for the few years you need it, so that you eventually qualify for French health care under the UK/France reciprocol arrangement for retirees. That way you avoid the potential hefty French social security health care deductions you would have to continue to make against your income as a retiree in France, if you went down the AE route.

The problem with the AE route as I understand it, is there is no going back to qualify for French health care under the reciprocol retiree arrangement with the UK, which dependent on your retirement income could be cheaper long term, as you do not pay French health care deductions under the UK retiree arrangement.

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Once again, Sprosgster, this seems from the anecdotal evidence on here and elsewhere, to vary according to where you are.  The EU statute seems a bit "fuzzy" as the competent state is either interpreted as the one to which you most recently contributed or the one to which you contributed for the longest time.  Some people who have run businesses have found that once retirement comes, the transfer onto an S1 has been automatic and straightforward whilst others have had to stay in the French system and carry on paying the social charges here, as you describe.

However, all in all, I do agree with you.  If you can get (assuming you have no medical condition which prevents you from getting the statutory level) and afford private cover for five years or until UK state retirement age, I reckon it's the best and least dodgy option.

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I think we have discussed this before.

There used to be a clear statement on the UK gov site that if you received any pension at all from the country in which you live, that country is responsible for paying for your health care, and so you would  be 'à la charge de la France' if you had a French pension, and so have to pay the  contributions.

Since they re-vamped the site I can no longer find the reference.

 I agree that it seems a bit daft if you get a UK pension, have paid most of your working life into the UK system etc, but that was the EU regulation (and S1 is a EU system)

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Whilst I seem to remember that Norman, and that you are in theory correct, yet still a number or CPAMs seem to have ignored this and when presented with an S1 have gone ahead and registered the claimant and the UK has paid.  This might, of course, have simply been a case of certain offices preferring to pass the responsibility (and costs) back to the UK than to leave them in the French system (and pay.)

I've sure it's on the EU site somewhere....

EDIT : Yes, indeed Norman - here it is:


What I don't know is what pension rights an AE gives you?  Presumably you have to contribute to a caisse of some sort?  Do you get a pension even if you only have a small number of trimestres on your record?

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There is a distinction between the right to a pension, and the amount.

To have the right to a French pension all the years you have contributed to a national pension scheme (I presume in the EU, but it certainly works with the UK) are added up, and if you have enough in total then you are entitled to a pension however small. In practice the details are a bit complicated because the two countries count a bit differently, the French for example using trimestres

However I am a bit rusty on the details and there may be an element of a minimum number of years worked in France, which is of course your point.

The amount paid by France, logically enough is calculated on things like the number of years worked here, the average salary etc.

There is an added complication in that different régimes pay different pensions.

I have one paid for my years as an employee in the private sector, another, a sort of complimentary one paid because I worked in the Grandes Ecoles, and a third one paid because I also worked for the Education Nationale, although the sums involved are tiny.

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[quote user="NormanH"] there may be an element of a minimum number of years worked in France, which is of course your point.

[/quote]Indeed.  Thus, if our o/p only needed to run his AE for few enough trimestres to remain below the appropriate number, he may well be able to use his S1 on retirement, if he does not qualify for a French pension.  Whatever, it's pretty convoluted stuff with a goodly number of "what ifs" involved.
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There is of course also the point that for some early retirees, building up a pension provision in France (or any country for that matter) is a good thing, even if there are other finacial implications in doing so.  My wife is in her early 40's and has just registered as an AE.  She only has approx 20 years UK contribution years and would only qualify for 2/3 of a UK pension.  If she keeps going with her AE she will build up pension and benefit rights in France, which I don't need but she might.  If she has to pay cotisations on her pension when she gets it then so be it, she will be benefitting so why not pay her dues, its what the French do after all..
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Your wife can make voluntary contributions to eventually top up her UK pension to the 30 required years. If she is working in France, then the contributions could well be reduced contributions.
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Do you know I thought I had the calculation for french pensions sussed. But I did not have it sussed at all when it came down to it. Still am not sorted out with them. This has now been going on for 16 months.
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All I can tell you, DD, is that I have two cattle farmer friends who moved here in their late 30s.  Their contributions here in France will not produce a worthwhile pension even if they work until 65 as they just cannot accumulate enough trimestres in that time - or so they tell me.  They have continued to pay voluntary contributions in the UK, and have bought an investment property here in the hope that they can get a pension which will feed and clothe them when their (very physical) working life comes to an end.
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This is how a the pension of someone who has worked as an employee is worked out.

If anyone is seriously interested I could explain it in English since I have been down that route, but if nobody shouts I will just leave you the link:


In brief the amount you get is

(Average salary) x (the 'taux') x    the number of years actually worked/

                                                       the number of years you should have worked

The 'taux' for someone who has worked the full number of years would normally be 50%, but this can be reduced

From that you can see that if you haven't worked a full career you get a 'double whammy' in that both the 'taux' and the division of years give multiplying effect downwards.

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DD, my understanding is that the cost of topping up a UK State pension so that you are entitled to a full pension is something of a bargain and therefore a sensible investment decision your wife should make.

From other members it would appear that you are unlikely to accumulate a meaningful French State pension under the AE regime, if indeed it survives it it's current form as it is not without controversy with some artisans.
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Speaking as someone who's been covered for health provision via AE since I moved to France a few years back, I hope that the new president isn't going to be stupid enough to do away with it.

Under current rules you get full health cover from the moment you register an AE until such time as you pass 8 quarters without any turnover to declare.

I had a total of 7 weeks hospital treatment, plus home nursing and ongoing medication for cancer based on having declared a few thousand euros as an AE. I actually collected my first health reimbursements befor I made my first declaration and cotisation payments. because the popularity of the scheme meant that the system was not ready to handle declarations.

As a follow-on from that illness I have passed nearly two years with  no turnover to declare, but fortunately I have recently had some work for a UK client that I can carry out at home, so that will re-start my clock. I also plan to get started on a new business idea that should see me back in being a regular earner (and therefore a regular cotisation payer).

My wife is French but lived & worked in the UK for nearly 40 years. Since returning she has worked through a mixture of AE and cheque emploi associative but that did not stop her getting her UK pension. This is presumably because her turnover was lower than the limit that qualifies for a French pension.

I don't know how much it costs to 'buy extra years' of UK pension contributions. It would certainly be worth doing a cost-benefit analysis. The big question is always: 'How long do I expect to live after retirement?'

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