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A guide to French citizenship

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

You are eligible to apply for French citizenship after having been in the country for five years, or maybe fewer in certain circumstances.

After five years of continuous residency in France, you may be entitled to apply for French permanent residence and French citizenship if you intend to remain there for an extended time or perhaps permanently. In some circumstances, such as being married to or the parent of a French citizen, this waiting period is reduced.

Whether you choose to become a citizen of France or a permanent resident of France, either path allows you to stay in France for an extended time. However, there are significant differences between the two paths that you should be aware of before selecting the path that is in your best interest. Find out whether you meet the requirements and what else you need to know to apply for French citizenship or permanent residence in France.

Is it now the right time to apply for French citizenship in light of Brexit?

Because France permits its residents to have more than one citizenship, British nationals who meet the requirements might take into consideration applying for French citizenship to keep their access to living in the European Union (EU).

However, until the negotiations for the UK's withdrawal from the EU are complete, which are expected to take at least two years, there will be no restrictions placed on the right of British nationals to travel freely inside France.

Should you decide to become a citizen of France or remain a permanent resident?

If you have a permanent residency visa for France, you can remain in the country for ten years. With this status, in principle, you may continue to reside in France for an infinite amount of time since it is renewable. On the other hand, even if you are a French national and a citizen of France, you are not entitled to all of their rights. You are unable to participate in elections or occupy public office, for instance.

If you decide to become a citizen of France, you will automatically be considered a citizen of the EU. As a direct consequence of this, you are permitted unrestricted travel within all EU member states. You can maintain your previous nationality even after you have become a citizen of France; this status is referred to as dual citizenship.

In either scenario, one of the requirements for French citizenship is an uninterrupted residency in the country for a certain number of years. There are few exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, if you leave France for more than six months in a row out of a total of ten months, your continuous stay will be considered invalid. Inquire with the prefecture or your local administration (French administrative offices representing the government at a local level). Serious sickness, pregnancy, employment in the armed forces, academic or research pursuits, and so on are all examples of exceptions.

Permanent residence in France

After continuously residing in France for five years, you will be eligible to apply for a carte de residente. This is a permit for permanent residence that may be renewed and gives you the right to dwell in France for up to ten years at a time. Your circumstances, such as the purpose for your stay, work, and financial stability, how effectively you integrate into French culture, and how well you speak the language, will determine whether or not you are eligible to receive this benefit.

If you leave France for more than two years at a time without returning, you will lose the ability to dwell there permanently.

EU/EEA/Swiss citizens

A citizen of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland who has lived in France continuously for at least five years is eligible to apply for permanent residency even if they cannot provide proof of income or work.

Citizens of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland are exempt from needing to carry this permission. On the other hand, they are ineligible for state services such as financial assistance for housing if they do not have it.

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens

After five years, non-EU/EEA/Swiss family members are eligible to apply for permanent residency. You can keep the permit even if you get divorced or if your EU spouse passes away.

Exemptions for family members or partners

Based on family reunification, the five-year residency requirement is reduced to three years if you are joining a family member in France who already holds permanent residence or if you are the parent of a child with French nationality who has a temporary residence. Whoever is born in France and fulfills the requirements for French citizenship also gets the right to remain in France permanently.

Even if you haven't been living in France throughout your marriage to a French citizen, you are eligible to apply for permanent residency as soon as your marriage has been legally recognized as lasting more than three years. You are eligible to seek citizenship after three years of having a carte de séjour if your marriage took place fewer than three years ago (residence permit).

How to Make an Application for Permanent Residence in France

At the French prefecture in your region, you may apply for either French citizenship or permanent residency (town hall). They give information on what papers you need based on your specific scenario in an understandable way. Documents showing your domicile, a contract at your place of work, bank records, a birth or marriage certificate, and a medical certificate might all be among them.

If you satisfy the requirements, you have the option of applying for permanent residency in France or applying for long-term residency in the EU. The latter option confers extra privileges, including the ability to move freely around the EU and dwell in any of its member states. Take a look at the similarities and differences (in French).

The fee for applying varies according to the nature of the request; for example, the fee for a family reunion is €269 (€250 + €19 for the duty stamp), whereas the fee for asylum seekers and veterans is just €19. If you currently have a residence card valid for one year but do not provide it when you apply for a new one, you will be required to pay an extra €9 fee.

How to apply for citizenship in France

Naturalization, marriage, or being born in France are the three paths that might lead to one attaining the rights and responsibilities of French citizenship. You need to be above the age of 18 and currently residing in France. When you become a citizen of France, it is not required that you renounce your previous nationality; rather, you are permitted to have dual nationality.


You are eligible to apply to become a naturalized citizen of France if you have the following:

● possess an "extraordinary course of integration" in civic action, science, economics, culture, or sports, in which case the need is reduced to two years; have been a permanent resident of France for five years without interruption;

● may provide evidence that you have successfully integrated into the French community by demonstrating that you are fluent in French and have an understanding of French culture, society, as well as the rights and responsibilities of French citizens.

You are required to sign the Reception and Integration Contract if you will be acquiring French citizenship via naturalization or marriage (CAI). This application is good for one year, after which it will be reviewed to determine whether or not you have fulfilled the criteria of the CAI. For instance, you could have reached an adequate level of proficiency in French or attended a course on civics.

The application has a fee of €55 and may be found here along with information on the method, locations, and application form (in French).


If you want to know how to become a French citizen after being married to a French citizen for four years, as long as the following conditions are met:

● You both remain wedded to one another.

● Your partner will keep his or her French citizenship even after you marry; and

● You have a solid foundation in the study of the French language.

In rare circumstances, the required amount of time is increased to five years. For instance, if you are unable to provide evidence that you have lived together continuously in France for at least three years after your wedding, you will not be allowed to marry in France.

Before you may become a citizen of France, your marriage must be recorded in the French civil registry, even if it took place in another country.

If you were born in France or to French parents, you are a French citizen.

Children who are born to parents who are not French nationals but who were born in France are eligible to apply for French citizenship at the age of 16 if they were born in France. They are then eligible for citizenship when they become 18 if they have made France their primary home for five consecutive years beginning when they were 11 years old. Examine the terms and conditions.

A modification that was made to the legislation in France in 2015 makes it possible for children to earn French citizenship at the age of 18 provided they have lived in France continuously since the age of six, attended a French school, and had a sibling who has acquired French citizenship.

If you are the parent of a kid who was born outside of France but has lived in France continuously since they were eight years old, you have the right to petition a French magistrate on behalf of that child to be granted French citizenship. The child must be at least 13 years old. It is also possible to naturalize a minor if one of the child's parents already has French citizenship and has spent at least five years living in France.

At the town hall, you may apply a demande d'attribution (based on droit du sang, which translates to "blood connection") if you were born outside of France but to French parents. View the terms that apply to children here.

Children who have been fostered or adopted are also eligible to apply for French citizenship if their guardian is a citizen of that country.

Exceptions for French citizenship

If you meet any of the following criteria, you are eligible to apply for French citizenship without having to wait the required five years:

● served in the French armed forces or agreed to voluntary participation in the French or allied troops throughout the conflict;

● be eligible to be a refugee;

● have made an outstanding contribution to the development of France;

● originate from a nation where French is used as the official language and have spent at least five years educating themselves in a French-speaking environment.

A person who was born outside of France but has a French parent may legally become a citizen of France by submitting an application for a nationality certificate and proving that they are the child of a French parent. It is not necessary to reside in France to submit this application.

How to apply for French citizenship

If you meet the requirements listed above, you may submit an application for French citizenship at the préfecture in your region. To apply, you will need to submit a declaration that includes the following information as a demande d'acquisition par declaration.

● There should be two copies of the application for French nationality;

● Copies of the applicant's and spouse's photo identification;

● Evidence of your address;

● Certificate of birth (with a certified translation if it is not written in French);

● a certificate of marriage that was received during the previous three months;

● Attestation sur l'honneur des 2 époux, a declaration of honour, which both spouses must sign at the préfecture or consulate;

● Proof of the partnership, such as a mortgage contract, a joint tax notice, property deeds, or a common bank account;

● Documentation demonstrating that at the time of the marriage, both partners had French citizenship;

● Documentation demonstrating that the candidate has obtained a level of proficiency in the French language;

● Documentation demonstrating that you do not have a history of criminal activity;

● Certificates of marriage from any past marriages as well as formal documentation of the divorce;

Documentation proving that you have resided in France for at least three years following your marriage (if you have been living abroad, this could be a document proving that you have resided in France for at least three years following your marriage, or it could be a document proving that your spouse has been registered in the French registry during the time that you have been living abroad);

Evidence of work or assistance from a financial source.

Applications are reviewed by the police department, the mayor's office, and other government entities. There is also the possibility of speaking with a police officer. The procedure can take as long as two years to complete.

If you are unable to show an official language certificate, are above the age of 60, or have a handicap, you will be required to participate in an interview to verify your French competence.

If you are successful, you will become a citizen of France at a naturalization ceremony. You will be issued both a French passport as well as a national ID card. If an unmarried dependent child lives with you and is included in the naturalization decree, they will instantly acquire French citizenship.

For more information

Service-Public - This website is for the public services provided by the French government and is written entirely in French. It contains information on how to become a citizen of France. See this page for the contact information of your local mairie (town hall), as well as this page for the contact information of other local departments & public services.

France Diplomatie - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the French government.

OFII - This is the website for the English language version of the L'office Francais de l'immigration et de l'intégration, which is the French government agency in charge of immigration (to see the website in English, click the "EN" button in the upper right corner). There are offices located all across France; check the website for the contact information of the office that is most convenient for you.



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