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Officialising your artist status in France

Those working in the arts need to contact the Maison des Artistes – the official artists' representative body - to organise social security cover and other benefits, such as entrance to galleries and events. If you are an author, photographer, playwright, composer, illustrator or website designer and are paid in royalties, (droits d'auteur), you can register with AGESSA (you'll need to have earned about EUR 7,000 in royalties over the previous year to register).

If you are a painter, sculptor or installation artist AKA "artiste plasticien" you can register with La Maison des Artistes (either as a member or an affiliate). As a member, you pay a percentage of your earnings to cover your social charges (for retirement, healthcare etc) which MDA collects for the government. The association works so that as an artist you don't have to be declared self-employed but you can legally invoice for your work and MDA takes a role as an invisible employer collecting your social charges.

To start with you can fill in their "debut d'activite" form, attach a copy of the reciept of your first artwork sale, your droits d'auteur contract, or contract with a gallery to obtain your MDA serial number. France considers artwork sold within the country, as well as earnings made here from your droits d'auteur tax liable. To obtain artists' social security you must reside in France at least 6 months of the year, and have declared an address for tax purposes.

Members of the European Union must register their address at their local Mairie.

Members outside of the European Union, who don't already live here with a visa or residence card, can sometimes obtain a visa mentioning, "artistic or cultural profession" at the French Consulate in their homeland. To obtain this visa you must provide a contract with an employer based in France (for example a contract with a French gallery) or a contract of another nature (participation in a cultural event for example). This visa is limited to a year and can be renewable.

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