I had meeting with a Very Nice Woman at the Chamber of Commerce, first thing. I explained that I’d registered as an auto-entrepreneur (AE) last month but the dossier had disappeared. She checked to make sure it really wasn’t on the system and we went through the whole process again. It only took a few minutes and was punctuated by the odd phone call, some banter with other women in the office, and the occasional dashing out for some reason. I was fine with all of this – I was paying 42 very hard-earned euros for the meeting, so I was determined to enjoy every moment.

When all the details were in her computer, she printed out a document for me to read and sign. Then she went off to photocopy it, along with various pieces of paper I brought with me, and gave me a whole load of papers to take away.

If you’re thinking of becoming an auto-entrepreneur, I recommend having the meeting. She went through the same steps as I did before, but when it came to something I didn’t understand (like which medical insurance I would like to sign up for – answer, it doesn’t matter – and when would I like to pay a tax I will never have to pay – answer, annually), she could explain. When you do it at home, you just look at the computer screen while your brain goes into lockdown because It Just Doesn’t Make Any Sense.

I also Learnt Something New. One of the pieces of paper she gave me has the registered number for my business on it. I asked if it was my SIREN or my SIRET (types of business registration) and she told me that the nine-figure number is my SIREN. The SIRET has another five figures, which is the postcode for the business. If we ever move, the SIRET will change, but the SIREN would always be the same. (Ahhhh, I don’t hear you say.)

After the meeting, I went to the job centre to give them copies of the things they need copies for. A woman came over and I explained the situation to her. She directed me to another woman, behind a reception desk and I explained everything to her. I was then asked to sit and wait for a few minutes. I sat, calm and composed, feeling like I had won a black belt in bureaucracy. I remained serene while explaining everything to another woman, who changed some information on her computer and gave me another form to complete. I am to wait for Something to arrive in the post and send a copy to another office where, presumably, a woman will type something into a computer and Everything Will Be Alright.

Will the Something arrive in the post on time for something? How can we be sure that everything really will be alright? Where are all the men? Come back soon for Part Three of my latest bureaucratic adventure.

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