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Portage Salarial International: The French Answer to International Payroll Needs

Mis à jour le Wednesday 14 December 2022

For companies without a subsidiary in France, putting French workers on the payroll can be a complex endeavour. Similarly, setting up their own business for the sole purpose of being able to work for a foreign organisation is neither practical nor cost-effective for French workers. Being self-employed means they would also have to give up on significant benefits. This is where “portage salarial international” comes in. Here’s everything you need to know about the concept, how it works, and who it’s for.

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What Is Portage Salarial International?

“Portage salarial international” is France’s equivalent to umbrella companies, or payroll companies. This solution gives independent contractors the autonomy to work with foreign clients without losing the statutory benefits that come with being an employee in France. As more and more French consultants provide their services to international companies, portage salarial allows them to carry out their activities without any geographic constraints.

Portage salarial companies are there to offer a legal entity through which freelancers can work for customers located anywhere in the world – hence the expression “portage salarial international”. A portage contract establishes an employer/employee relationship between the umbrella company and the contractor. This grants the freelancer the ability to work for foreign clients and to have the portage company invoice them on his or her behalf. The portage company receives the customers’ payments, deducts social charges – along with its fee – and then pays the “salarié porté” (the contractor) in the form of a salary, complete with a payslip.

From the perspective of the customer, portage salarial international is a solution that allows them to work with professionals based in any country (as France is not the only place where portage salarial exists). Through this scheme, they can offer them the level of social security that any employee should expect without having to set up a business entity or navigate the intricacies of hiring them and putting them on the payroll.

How Does Portage Salarial International Work?

Portage salarial international is designed to facilitate work arrangements between contractors and the organisations they wish to offer their services to, regardless of where they are based. The choice to call upon a portage salarial company can either be the consultant’s – who thus gets to enjoy the safety and convenience of the employee status – or the client’s – who can bring new talent into their team without having to worry about the complicated process of hiring a foreign worker.

The portage salarial contract involves the umbrella company and the “salarié porté”, but not the end client, even though their business is typically what justifies and defines the terms of the arrangement. Through this solution, the portage company puts the freelancer on its payroll and then bills the customer for his or her services. The client pays the invoice, and the portage company pays the contractor in the form of a salary.

As international umbrella companies are equipped to do business with organisations based all over the world, contractors can either use their services to work for a single client on an ongoing basis or have multiple customers. Portage companies receive payment on behalf of the contractor, use the funds to cover contributions, taxes, as well as portage fees, and what is left makes up their monthly salary. Freelancers can even claim refunds for their business expenses. Yet, unlike micro-entrepreneurs or other business owners, legally speaking, salariés portés are employees and can use their payslips to apply for a mortgage, for example. They enjoy the same pension scheme and unemployment benefits any employee is entitled to.

Consultant Expatrié or Consultant Détaché?

Portage salarial international offers two main statuses for “salariés portés” to choose from, depending on their situation and on the type of social security they need.

For French consultants who carry out short-term missions for a variety of international clients without ever leaving the country for long themselves, being a “consultant détaché” makes more sense. This status allows them to be registered with the French “Sécurité sociale” and to benefit from a contract developed within the framework of the French legislation. “Consultants detachés” can work for an unlimited amount of time for EU companies and offer their services to organisations based in countries that have signed a bilateral agreement with France. Outside of these two cases, contractors can, under certain conditions, benefit from the French social security scheme for up to three years, renewable once.

For freelancers who leave the French territory for an undetermined period to carry out their work for foreign clients, the “consultant expatrié” status is more appropriate. Relocating implies that they are covered by the social security scheme of the country they move to.

What Are the Benefits of Portage Salarial International?

Portage international is beneficial to French consultants wishing to extend their services to companies beyond their own borders. Thanks to this solution, they enjoy the benefits that statutory employees take for granted, along with all the support and freedom they need to venture out as freelancers. Opting for portage salarial also means that contractors are not required to open a business of their own, deal with regulatory issues, or even chase their own invoices.

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For client companies, portage salarial agencies provide a convenient means of hiring experts in virtually any country without any complicated administrative obligations, including having to set up a business entity. They are also safe in the knowledge that the contractors of their choosing will enjoy ideal working conditions.

International umbrella companies – known as “portage salarial international” companies in France – allow independent contractors to carry out work assignments for their clients without having to register as a business entity. These organisations essentially put them on the payroll so they can work as consultants and have the opportunity to grow their client base. At the same time, they get to enjoy the benefits that their country extents to employees in terms of health care and social security. Many companies around the world rely on portage salarial to manage their foreign contractors’ payrolls without any extra administrative complications on their part. All this makes portage a relevant model for professionals across an array of industries.

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