France, officially known as the French Republic, is the second largest country in Europe, and the fourth most populated country in Europe with over 60 million people. A citizen of France is entitled to permanently live in France, work in France, vote in France and have access to public benefits offered by the French government. According to France’s Nationality Law, French citizenship may be acquired in several ways. This article explains how to properly acquire French citizenship for people who were not born in metropolitan France or one of the Overseas Departments and Territories.
1. Rely on naturalisation. For all persons aged 18 or above, French citizenship may be obtained by naturalisation. There are several ways to attain French citizenship by naturalisation, some of which require a pre-existing residency requirement, some which do not. All paths to French citizenship via naturalisation are outlined below.
- One who has have lived in France legally for at least five continuous years within metropolitan France (l’Hexagone) or one of the Overseas Deparments and Territories. This also applies to all European Union citizens who do not require a residency permit prior to arriving in France.
- For those who are not citizens of the European Union, European Economic Area, or citizens of Switzerland, a residence permit (carte de séjour) must first be obtained to enter France and begin the five year waiting process. Obtaining a residence permit is complex and involves a lot of bureaucracy. For non-EU nationals, under most circumstances, it is MANDATORY to first have a carte de séjour before applying for citizenship.Such persons must then remain in France for at least five years, after which they may apply for citizenship via naturalisation.
2. Be aware that the only exceptions to the five year rule or residency requirements are outlined below:
- One who has lived in France for at least two years and has a degree from a French university – waiting time is reduced from five years to two years.
- One who has rendered exceptional service to France. No pre-existing residency requirement.
- One who has served in the French Army, including the French Foreign Legion. No pre-existing residency requirement.
- One who is a spouse or a child of a person acquiring French citizenship. No pre-existing residency requirement.
- One who is a citizen of a Francophone country where French is one of the official languages. Residency requirement MAY be waived.
- One who has refugee status. No pre-existing residency requirement.
- Your birth certificate, passport
- Proof of legal residence in France (e.g. carte de séjour)
- Proof of location of habitat in France (i.e. your address)
- If married to a French citizen, proof of marriage
- Proof of adequate knowledge of the French language
- Any other documents requested.
- Application for French citizenship is a complex matter that involves a lot of red tape. Be prepared for many forms, regulations and pre-existing requirements.
- Ensuring that all forms are properly filled out, and that all requested documents are provided will allow for a faster and more streamlined process.
- Requirements may differ to all of the above depending on the situation. Every application will be reviewed on an individual basis.
- Be aware of what it means to be a French citizen, as well as a thorough understanding of the culture, society, and language of France.