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New arrivals- healthcare advice desperately sought! Thank you


TheFitzs

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Hi all, 

We're relocating to France in a fortnight (my husband, myself and our eighteen month old daughter) and we're desperately in need of some help and advice! 

I've spent another day on the phone and Internet today trying to make some sense of what we need to do with regards to French healthcare. We're self-employed but will be working for our British company in France so apparently are not entitled to a S1 certificate. We've spoken to various people who keep asking what we are entitled to, but at the moment we just can't find out! I think that we'll end up needing a hundred per cent private cover. Are there any companies that are better than others or that come highly recommended? Unfortunately we're still at a stage at the moment where we probably need an English-speaking company.

We hope that after a period of time of living in France full time that we will then be eligible for French social security. Would this be the case? For this to happen, do we need to be making some contributions now? 

Apologies for so many questions on my first post. I've been researching this for months but don't seem to be making any headway and things are starting to feel a bit desperate!

Thank you so much if you've had the patience to read through this. Any help at all would be enormously appreciated.

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When you say 'working for your British company in France' ...

If 'your' company means a company that belongs to you, will that not involve registering your business in France? There are very few circumstances in which a UK company can (legally) operate in France without being registered in France.

And if you are running a registered business in France, problem solved, you will be paying cotisations through your business and therefore fully in the system.
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Someone who knows more about this than me is bound to be along later, but just for clarity I am wondering how you are working the situation where you are both in France but your company in the UK ? Do you have other employees ?

I may be way of beam but my personal understanding is that if your 'derriere' is in France, you pay tax and other charges, in France....

PS I see Eurotrash had the same thought !

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Have you already looked into your tax status etc with an expert or consulted with any of the authorities ? Is it a limited company ?  Sorry, I don't want to be nosey but I suspect those answering later might need to know to be able to offer you the best advice.

Don't worry, there well may be a simple answer I'm not au fait with.

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Are you employees and will you be spending time in UK working ?

As has already been said, you cannot work in France, even by phone or computer, without it being through French business entity of some sort.

If you are returning to UK to perform work that is a different matter.

Essentially you cannot sit in France full time and run a UK business.

I'll put into print what I know others are thinking, if you are moving to French in two weeks time why have you left it to the last minute to ask these absolutely crucial questions ???

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Hmm. Sorry, I'm stumped then.

All I can think is that you will in fact need to arrange private healthcare for 5 years, after which, provided the rules don't change in the meanwhile, you should be able to join and start paying into the French health system. You will need to show you have lived here 'legally' for those 5 years i.e. filled in your French tax returns and had full health cover that is equivalent to what you would have had under the state system.

Maybe someone will be along with a better idea !

PS - if they're not actually generating any revenue in France, and not trading as such, wouldn't it be the dividend scenario?
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Sorry for any confusion. Our situation is:

We are partners, self employed, in a nursery school business in the uk.

We have staff and management employed in the uk.

We currently pay PAYE tax and NI. Although one of us will not have paid continuious NI contributions for very long. (1 or 2 months).

We already own our house in France and have done since Nov 10 and have paid all local taxes due since then.

We would continue to operate the nursery with a manager.

I hope that makes things a bit clearer and less confused.
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 Norman, I'm not saying you are wrong (heaven forfend !) but didn't the OP start by saying they would be running the company from France ? The revenue may be generated in the UK, but if they are taking an active (by internet) part in the running of the business wouldn't that count ?
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You definitely need to take advice from a specialist accountant with knowledge of the tax and social security systems in both Britain and France.

Under normal circumstances, your problem could be temporarily solved by applying for an A1 (E101) form which would allow you to transfer your UK business to another EU state and continue paying tax and NI in UK, while being eligible for French healthcare in the same way as any other French resident. This arrangement is valid for one year, and can be renewed with the agreement of the authorities in both France and UK. That year (and maybe one renewal - you won't normally get longer than that) will give you time to regularise your situation.

But this only works if you are physically carrying on the same business in France that you operate in UK - in your case it seems that you are not doing the same work in France (it has been delegated to others), so may not be entitled to an A1.

Beware - without an A1 or similar form you will quite probably be expected to prove that, for your UK business, all clients, all work, all management, and all other activities are undertaken outside France - i.e. the only way in which your setup can be considered 'legal' as far as French residents are concerned (and you will without doubt be deemed to be fiscally resident in France). This will raise the question of the origin of your income, on which you exist from day to day, and you will have to prove that this is independent of your UK business. Daft, I know, but that's France for you. If the French authorities find any financial links to your UK business they will hammer you for various charges, quite likely amounting to a high number of hundreds of euros per month.

Some people try to shelter behind 'dividend' income - this raises even more complications as far as France is concerned, and professional advice is even more essential.

Or you could just lie low, keep your head below the parapets, use the EHIC for healthcare, and hope to Heaven that you don't get investigated. Of course, this is not recommended, though many people seem to do it. It is very easy to get things wrong in France - its rules for businesses are totally different, and in many ways far more restrictive than in UK. And getting it wrong can prove extremely costly, so professional advice is an investment rather than an expense.

By the way, I have worked in France on an E101 (the former identity of this version of the A1) and have experienced a French tax investigation, so the above is based on real personal knowledge.

 

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That was why I re-posted to attempt to clarify. The business will be run in the UK by the manager- we will not be running it in France. Apologies for causing confusion.

Many thanks for the advice. Will continue to research the best private healthcare companies.
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That is the nub of the matter[:)]

In any case the OP will have to show adequate income and health cover to stay more than 3 months.

I can't see any way of getting into the French system before 5 years,  without starting a business here, but this cross-border stuff really is not my speciality..

Does Will still post here?

edit:

Sorry Will posted while I was typing...

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To me it's still pointing towards private healthcare, because to all intents and purposes, as far as France is concerned, you will be inactif.

So, stop paying NI, get private healthcare for 5 yrs, and declare worldwide income in France starting next April for year 2012.

With an 18-month old infant, winging it on an invalid EHIC seems a tad unwise.

Please get expert advice, you are stepping into a minefield.
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Sorry, just read Will's post - I thought that to be eligible for an E101 it very definitely has to be your intention to only stay temporarily in another country, and you have to have a permanent home continuously available to you throughout the period you are away, which you intend to resume living in after your time abroad?

Several years ago when I moved over I applied for an E101 and got one and then decided to go AE after all - but I seem to recall having to identify exactly what accommodation I had permanently at my disposal in the UK.
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 I'm confused, in your first post you said

"We're self-employed but will be working for our British company in France so apparently are not entitled to a S1 certificate".

I suspect you need to work out your level of activity and see a good specialist accountant, very quickly ! Good luck with it all anyway...[:)]

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Yes, as Russethouse says.

Self-employed but working for a company is a contradiction in itself, and working from France but not doing any work is another one. Any hint of a contradiction is best avoided when you're dealing with the likes of cpam and urssaf and the impots. They like things very clear and nicely in line with the regulations, otherwise their mouths curl down at the corners, they shake their heads and they hand your dossier back to you.
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I can only endorse the OP's in that you absolutely must obtain specialist advice from a suitable qualified accountant experienced in French and UK tax/social security matters. Ideally, you should delay your move until that advice is obtained, as I have come across many clients who only seek advice after their move, by which time it is often too late to avoid an unmitigated disaster.

Personally, I would also be worried as to whether or not your hands on type of business lends itself to being controlled properly from another country and being a licensed child care business the attitude of the UK authorities to this.

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