French Citizenship: The Complete Guide for 2022
There are two main ways to become a citizen of France, as outlined by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You can either be naturalized, which involves living in France for five years and passing language and history tests, or you can be born to a French parent, which requires moving to France before the age of 16 in order to become eligible. Whether you take the naturalization route or the second route, you must prove that you have resided legally in France during your time there and have no criminal record.
The next time you’re in France, you may find yourself wondering Can I get Frence citizenship? Here’s the complete guide to Frence citizenship, whether you want to become an actual citizen or just reside in France more easily and comfortably.
France is the largest country in Western Europe, the fourth-largest in the European Union, and the third-largest in the European continent, behind Russia and Turkey, respectively. It possesses the second-largest exclusive economic zone in the world, with its overseas territory of French Guiana being slightly larger than its land area as a whole. France has been an independent kingdom since the 10th century, most notably as one of the first countries to adopt Catholicism as the state religion and one of the world’s oldest monarchies still existing today. Paris is both France’s capital and its largest city by a considerable margin.
Benefits of French citizenship
In addition to allowing you to live and work in France and access free education, French citizenship offers many unique benefits. In some cases, French citizens can move freely in other countries, including Canada, due to agreements with European nations. This comes in handy if you plan on traveling or moving frequently during your retirement years.
French citizens can also receive pensions from both France and their home country. For example, a French citizen who lives in Canada could receive a pension from France as well as Social Security payments from Canada – something that would not be possible if they only had Canadian citizenship. If you are considering applying for French citizenship or would like to learn more about what it takes to become a citizen of France, consult our guide on how to get French citizenship
French citizenship after Brexit
You don’t need to understand how Brexit works or even what it is. That’s because if you are an EU citizen, everything is changing in terms of your rights and privileges with respect to France and its local governments. This change comes into effect on March 30th, 2019.
Even though more than half of all British people voted to remain in the EU, they will have no say in what happens next thanks to Brexit and their government's choice to leave. Theresa May has done nothing but causes problems since she came into power almost three years ago.
Does France allow dual citizenship?
Yes, France allows dual citizenship, with a few exceptions. French citizens who become naturalized in another country must relinquish their French citizenship if they want to keep their new nationality. However, it is possible to be both a citizen of France and another country, as long as you do not hold office in an official capacity in any other nation.
In order to maintain your French citizenship after becoming naturalized elsewhere, you need to retain your place of residence in France. If you give up your French residency while maintaining dual nationality and become a legal resident of another country, then you are no longer eligible for French citizenship.
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How to get French citizenship
Of all European countries, France has one of the most stringent naturalization processes in place. In short, it’s a lengthy process that requires an extensive amount of preparation to complete successfully. In order to be eligible for French citizenship, applicants must meet specific criteria and possess certain prerequisites – such as a clean criminal record and strong ties to France. Here’s what you need to know about becoming a French citizen in 2022 or later – starting with how much it costs.
French citizenship by descent
French law grants citizenship to children born in France of non-French parents provided they have lived there over five years and intend to do so permanently. This is called jus soli (right of soil). Note that French nationality laws are abstract (they apply equally to all regardless of ancestry or current country of residence), and so do not actually list who qualifies for citizenship.
In addition, a child born outside France with only one French parent does not qualify; however it must be noted that most of these cases involve at least one parent who was born in France or that at least one parent has obtained French nationality through naturalisation prior to their child's birth.
French citizenship by birth
At birth, if your mother or father is a French citizen, you become a French citizen automatically. If neither of your parents is a French citizen, you can still become a French citizen at birth if one of your grandparents is born in France.
There are other rules about which grandparent must be born in France to pass citizenship by descent and their age at that time; some of these rules have changed over time and it’s not always easy to know what to do.
French citizenship by adoption
In French law, adoption grants a child the same rights as a legitimate child. Therefore, a French citizen choosing to adopt a child will pass the right to French citizenship by descent to that child.
French citizenship by marriage
If you marry a French citizen, you can apply for French citizenship after being married for 4 years or more.
If you live abroad, your French partner must be on the register of French citizens abroad, and the wedding must be on the French civil register.
If you live abroad with your spouse, the time frame for applications will extend to 5 years. This same time frame exists if you’re a couple living in France if you can’t prove that you’ve lived continuously in the country.
French citizenship by naturalization
A French citizen is a national of France, whether he or she was born in France or not. In other words, there are no citizens by origin, only citizens by birth and by naturalization (the last one is called naturalized citizens). Born a citizen at birth means having been born in France to parents who are both French citizens or to unknown parents.
If you were born abroad to one French parent, you may become a French citizen if your parent requested your citizenship within two years of your birth.
How to get citizenship of France faster
To become a citizen of France, you'll need to establish your residency status. You can do so in two ways. You can either get married or enter into a civil partnership with someone who is a French citizen. Or, you can be hired by an employer on French soil, although in that case you'll need to prove that your job has been advertised in France first; even then, you will still have to pass various exams (in French) and make it through various interviews before being awarded citizenship.
There's also a third way—you can have at least one parent who is already a citizen of France and they will sponsor your application; however, if both parents are not citizens of France then there are restrictions as to how many years they must have lived in France beforehand.
Does France have citizenship by investment route?
No, but there is a simplified naturalization process. If you are married to a French citizen, have lived in France for five years, have property worth more than €250k and pay taxes on your income in France (and have lived abroad less than 10 years) then you may be eligible.
Failing that a foreign national who has held legal residency status continuously since January 1st 2012 and acquired a certain level of integration into French society is also eligible to apply. This means passing exams testing language ability, knowledge of French history and culture as well as demonstrating an understanding of current affairs in France.
French residency permit for financially independent individuals
In order to obtain a French permanent residency permit (Carte de séjour), non-EU citizens must meet several conditions. In particular, one of these requirements is to have sufficient financial resources. This requirement is often seen as confusing and difficult to understand, and there are many misconceptions that surround it. In reality, obtaining a residency permit can be relatively easy if you have sufficient funds at your disposal.
Currently, there are three types of resident permits in France: temporary residence permits (visas), permanent residence permits (cartes de séjour) and resident cards or cartes de résident(e). Before starting on your journey towards obtaining French citizenship, find out which type of visa you will need based on your country of origin.
French citizenship requirements
So, by now, you’re probably wondering how to get French citizenship?
The truth is – the process does take time, and you’ll need to gather a large amount of paperwork.
While this can seem a monumental task, remember that you’re trying to provide evidence of who you are, what you bring to the country, and what you don’t (such as a criminal record).
You must create a dossier de naturalization that is submitted with all the required supporting documentation. If you fail to include all the required paperwork, it will be rejected.
All the documents provided must be less than a year old, so there’s no point in submitting that birth certificate you’ve been holding onto for 20 years; instead, you need to apply (and usually pay) for a new copy.
All documents need to be translated into French, some of which must be done by a court-approved translator, while others do not.
Naturally, there’s a fee for this, and the documents are only valid for 3 months before needing to be renewed – We’re not sure why, but then we don’t make the rules!
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List of required documents:
- A recent copy of your birth certificate, with Apostille (Official certification). This certificate must be issued by the same authority that issued the original. The original won’t suffice – you need to request a new one and then have it officially translated into French.
- Recent copies of both parents’ birth certificates, marriage certificates or death certificates. These must be translated into French as per all the other documents, but the translation no longer needs to be done by an official court translator. (Please note that you can’t request a copy of someone else’s birth certificate, so if your parents have passed away, you’ll be expected to provide a death certificate, which you can request).
- A recent copy of your marriage certificate, if applicable.
- A photocopy of both your and your partner’s passports or photo ID.
- 2 x citizen request forms (Cerfa No. 12753*02 forms).
- Evidence of your level of French fluency or proof you are taking lessons.
- Proof of residency – Submit utility bills, such as gas, electric, broadband – the more, the better.
- Proof of employment, salary, or independent income (If applicable).
- Evidence of no criminal record, either in France (if resident there for 10 years+) or for your country of origin if resident in France for less than 10 years.
- Two passport photographs with your full name and date of birth on the back.
- A tax stamp to the value of €55. These can be purchased from most French tobacconists or purchased online. These must be submitted in a sealed envelope marked with your name.
Once you have all the documents in hand, you’re good to start the process.
The Application process
The first step toward applying for French citizenship is identifying the route that best suits you.
For most, the path to becoming a French citizen lies in naturalization – which typically starts with getting temporary residency in France.
You will need to start by applying for an appropriate visa or entry permit. As a rule of thumb, apply to the French consulate where you live.
Depending on the agreements between your home nation and France, timescales may vary. For US citizens, these permits are generally issued in around two weeks, while most other countries must wait 2 months.
To apply for the visa, you will need:
- A valid passport
- The permit application form
- Passport photographs
- Evidence of financial guarantees that show you can support yourself during your residence.
- Information on any ongoing or known medical issues that you may need treating while in France.
- Proof of address within France, such as a lease, property deed, or evidence from a citizen with whom you will be staying.
Next, go about your business for 5 years as a legal resident of France. This can be shortened to two years if you study in France.
You will be asked to sign a Reception and Integration Contract (CAI). This document is a requirement by the French Immigration agency to ensure that foreign nationals arriving in France will agree to assimilate into French society.
It’s valid for one year, after which you will be assessed to ensure you meet the terms of the CAI. This includes being given a written and oral French test, which you’re expected to pass. If you cannot, you’ll need to take free classes to improve your language skills.
You’ll also be expected to undergo civics training, ensuring you understand the French beliefs in equality of the sexes and fundamental liberties.
In addition, you’ll receive an information session to make sure you’ve got sufficient information about public services. Attendance for all these classes is mandatory but also free of charge.
When your 5 years of residency are over, you can go ahead and apply for citizenship. It’s a complicated process, and it is well worth seeking professional advice to help you navigate the path to becoming a French citizen.
French citizenship is not as easy to get as one might think. In fact, it’s quite complex and often tedious. However, if you follow our step-by-step guide, you should be able to become a French citizen in no time at all. The most difficult part of French citizenship is actually residing in France. With all that said, we hope that you find our guide useful and would be happy to answer any questions you may have! We’re always updating with new content, so be sure to check back often.
All images shown are for illustrative purposes only. Each individual situation is unique and therefore could differ from what we’ve covered here. If you require additional information about obtaining French citizenship or any other visa services, please feel free to contact us anytime! Good luck!