How to become a French citizen
PUBLISHED: 14:44 11 April 2016 | UPDATED: 10:54 21 February 2017
Planning to live in France permanently? Find out how to become a French citizen and obtain the same rights and benefits as the French
Why apply for French citizenship?
If you are planning to live in France permanently then it can be easier to become a French citizen. You won’t have to keep applying for visas (if you are a non-EU citizen) and you will be entitled to the benefits and rights of a French citizen, including the right to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections and to hold political office.
If you are from outside the EU then becoming a French citizen gives you access to the European Union and you can travel to, live and work in another EU country without applying for visas. You will also be able to get through passport control much quicker than non-EU passport holders!
Criteria to meet to become a French citizen:
1. You are over 18
2. You have lived in France for at least 5 consecutive years (although this can be reduced if you have studied at a French university)
3. You are of good character and morals
4. You don’t have a criminal record (minor offences like speeding fines and parking tickets don’t count)
5. You can demonstrate that you have integrated into French life and you speak reasonable French
If you are married to a French citizen and have been married for at least 4 years you can apply for French citizenship as long as your French spouse retains their citizenship and you can prove a good level of French.
How to apply for French citizenship:
The local prefecture is responsible for processing citizenship applications. You must provide the following to them (anything written in English must be translated by a sworn translator):
• Your birth certificate
• Proof of identity (e.g. passport)
• Proof of marital status and whether you have children
• Evidence of employment and residence in France
• Evidence that you don’t have a criminal record
• An ‘attestation de moralité’ to attest that you are of good moral character (a letter from your mairie would be sufficient)
It can take up to 2 years for your application to be approved and during that time you will be checked out by various government departments and possibly the police. You may also have to prove your ability to speak French. Some countries, including Britain, America and Australia, allow you to hold dual French nationality.
Citizenship for children born in France
Children born in France of foreign parents after 1 September 1998 are automatically entitled to French nationality at the age of 18, as long as they currently live in France and have done so for at least 5 years between the ages of 11 and 18.
From the age of 16, the child can claim French nationality without needing parental consent, as long as they have been resident in France since they were 11 years old. The foreign parents of a child who has been living in France since the age of 8 can claim nationality for that child once she/he reaches the age of 13.
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