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Working in Paris

Find out how to get a job and work in Paris

As an expat working in Paris, you will enjoy the advantages of working in France’s business hub and Europe’s largest urban economy: at least 25% of the national GDP is created by managers, employees, and workers in Paris. Our InterNations GO! guide helps you with taxes, work permits, the job search, and more.

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Employment in Paris

As a working expat in Paris, you’ll be in good company: international employees make up a significant share of the working population, many of them working in Paris-based multi-national companies and organizations. After all, the Paris region isn’t only the home of 17 Fortune Global 500 companies. The city also hosts the headquarters of UNESCO, OECD, and ICC (International Chamber of Commerce), which employ large numbers of foreigners working in Paris.

The Parisian Economy

While traditional manufacturing used to be a major source of wealth and employment for people working in Paris until the 1970s, the city has successfully shifted its economic base to high-tech manufacturing in recent decades. Even though this development was vital to ensure continuing economic influence, it has widened the social gap in Paris. Some northeastern suburbs in particular have been gradually reduced to widespread unemployment and deprivation.

The economic center of Paris lies to the west of the city, which is also where countless people commute on a daily basis. In fact, many employees living in the center of town might find themselves working in Europe’s largest purpose-built business district, La Défense, on the outskirts of Paris, therefore commuting from the center to the suburbs every morning.

The Most Important Industries

The manufacturing boom started in the late 19th century with the emergence of the aviation, automobile, and motion picture industries. The city started to attract skilled workers to its technology and trade sectors, which are still major employers in Paris today.

With over 20 million annual visitors, Paris is the single most popular tourist destination in the world. Major sights like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Disneyland don’t only attract tourists, but they also — either directly or indirectly — create opportunities for working in Paris.

High value-added and business services, trade and commerce are other major sources of employment for those working in Paris’s private sector. The public sector is also big: it provides jobs for around 10% of all employees. Health services and social welfare, both with a mixture of public and private sector jobs, each employ another 8 to 9% of all people working in Paris.

Paying Taxes as a Foreign National

Foreign nationals are subject to the same taxation laws as the French if France is their main place of residence. In effect, this means that expats working in Paris who spend more than 183 days a year in France are taxed on all their income. On the other hand, those residents of Paris who spend less than 183 days of the year in France are only taxed on their income arising from French sources.

Like many other countries, France has signed a number of international treaties to avoid double taxation of foreigners working in Paris. A list of all countries in question as well as further information on the taxation of foreigners can be found on Impots.gov.fr.

Generally speaking, double taxation agreements allow foreign employees working in Paris for less than 183 days a year and receiving their salary from a non-French company to keep paying tax in their home countries, instead of in France.

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Paris: Social Security and Insurance

Agreements on Social Security

There are various international agreements with regard to social security contributions of foreigners working in Paris. If your home country has signed a social security agreement with France and your work assignment does not exceed 12 months, you can continue paying social security contributions in your home country.

Please check the documentation section of the Centre de Liaisons Européennes et Internationales de Sécurité Sociale for a list of all conventions bilatérales de sécurité sociale.

However, only legal residents who pay their contributions in France can benefit from the French social security system. EU citizens are the only exception: they are eligible for social security benefits anywhere in the EU, no matter in which member state they paid their contributions.

One of the Best Social Security Systems

The French social security system is rated among the best in the world. It consists of various agencies and insurances covering everything from health insurance to family, disability, and retirement benefits. There are different régimes for employees, civil servants, the self-employed, etc. For more information, check out the Sécurité Sociale website.

The retirement age is set at 62, although this is set to gradually increase to 67 by the year 2023, and the age of automatic entitlement to a full pension is 67 for people born after 1 January 1955. The amount of money that French pensioners receive depends on how much they paid in over the years. It amounts to a maximum of 50% of their salary during the 25 highest-earning years of their lives.

Make Sure You’re Covered: Healthcare and Insurance

Public health insurance in France covers roughly 70% of all medical expenses faced by patients. This includes visits to the doctor, the dentist, hospital stays, and specialist treatment. In order to cover excess payments, most people take out a supplementary private health insurance, which may be eligible for financial support from their employer. Under new regulations, patients are required to seek advice from their family doctor (the equivalent of a general practitioner in the UK or US) before consulting a specialist.

When choosing your general practitioner (or any other doctor), check their policy on fees and charges. Most doctors sign an agreement with Sécurité Sociale, committing them to certain guidelines with regards to the fees they charge for particular treatments. New residents should consult the website of their caisse d’assurance maladie in Paris, which has a guide to all local service centers and also provides information for English speakers via a phone hotline (0 811 36 36 46).

State-of-the-Art Hospitals and Clinics

Paris has 39 state hospitals supported by a vast network of private (often specialist) clinics. France is one of the global leaders in medical research, so most Parisian hospitals boast excellent facilities and state-of-the-art equipment. All public hospitals in Paris are united within the Assistance Publique Hôpitaux Paris (AP-HP). This association includes general, university, and specialist hospitals, as well as entire hospital groups.

Please consult the AP-HP website for a detailed list of hospitals and their specializations, information on emergency treatments, etc. A directory of private clinics in Paris and the Île-de-France region can be found on Le GIE Santé & Retraite regroupe.

Paris: Job Search and Work Permits

Becoming Employed in Paris

Private recruiters and temping agencies play a major role in the Parisian job market. However, university graduates and employees in specialist or managerial positions should consult the Agence pour l’Emploi des Cadres first. This is a half-private, half-governmental agency specializing in the recruitment of highly skilled and qualified people.

As in most other countries, newspapers are still a popular source of information for job-seekers. Check out the print editions of big daily newspapers, such as Le MondeLe Figaro, or Françe Soir, or the weekly Les Echos. There are also newspapers specializing in business news and recruitment for different sectors:

People who’d like to take things into their own hands and send out speculative applications might find the guide of Entreprises qui recrutent useful, published annually by Emploi-Pro.

Work permits can be a complicated issue, but in most cases, it is the current or prospective employer who has to sort out all the paperwork with the Direction Départementale du Travail, de l’Émploi et de la Formation professionnelle, or the Agence Nationale de l’Accueil des Étrangers et des Migrations.

EU/EEA as well as Swiss nationals do not require a permit in order to work in France. For non-EU/EEA nationals, a quick overview of different work permits has been included below for informative purposes.

Salaried and Temporary Workers

The “Salaried” and “Temporary Worker” permits open access to specific professions in different parts of France. The carte travailleur temporaire is valid for up to one year, the carte salarié temporaire for at least one year.

In both cases, your future employer needs to prove that they have tried to find a candidate from France for the job and that they employ you under the same conditions as their French staff.

Employees on Assignment

The “Employee on Assignment” permit has been introduced for expats on intra-company or intra-group transfers. Applicants need to have worked for the company for at least three months prior to their transferal and fulfill certain minimum wage requirements.

The permit is valid for an initial period of three years. Dependent family members may apply to join you on a “Private and Family Life” permit.

Seasonal Workers

The “Seasonal Worker” permit is valid for three years but only allows its holder to work in France for a maximum of six months over a period of 12 consecutive months. The worker’s main residence must be outside of France, and family members are not permitted to join.

Please remember that your employer in France is responsible for your work permit application if you fall into any of the categories mentioned above.

Work Permits for Academics, Entrepreneurs, and Investors

There are two types of work permits which require the applicant to take things into his own hands:

  • The “Scientific” permit is for academics wishing to carry out research or teaching activities at an institution of higher education in France. The latter must issue the applicant with a hosting agreement, which then needs to be endorsed by the French Consulate in the applicant’s home country. The work permit itself is issued at the préfecture de police in Paris.
  • Entrepreneurs, investors, etc. who would like to carry out a specific project with the aim of furthering the economic development of France and/or their country of origin can apply for a “Skills and Talents” permit. The application procedure is slightly more  complicated than that for other permits, as it requires the submission of a project briefing paper to the French Consulate or to the préfecture de police in Paris. If the applicant is successful, family members will automatically receive a “Private and Family Life” permit.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: December 13, 2017
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