Just £2 per issue Subscribe to one of our France Magazines click here

My experience of applying for French citizenship

PUBLISHED: 13:23 10 February 2017 | UPDATED: 10:43 22 February 2017

A Briton's experience of applying for French citizenship © bunyos / Fotolia

A Briton's experience of applying for French citizenship © bunyos / Fotolia


Having lived in France for 20 years, Mark Sampson and his family decided to celebrate by becoming French citizens. He explains the process for those thinking of doing the same

My family and I decided to apply for French citizenship in September 2015 when celebrating 20 years in France. Our decision was made all the more pertinent when the UK voted to leave the EU, and our future as expatriates suddenly seemed uncertain. Without our rights as EU citizens, what would become of us, our home, my wife’s business, our medical safety net, my small but inflation-linked UK government pension, our freedom of movement? Everything we had taken for granted?

What does applying for French citizenship entail?

Getting your birth and marriage certificates translated

You need to provide birth and marriage certificates with your citizenship applications and all those certificates have to be officially translated. Not just your own birth and marriage certificates and those of your offspring, but also the birth and marriage certificates of your parents. To avoid paying more than the standard rate per item, order them several weeks before you intend to have them translated. At which point, it becomes even more expensive.

Fortunately, we found someone we knew and liked to do ours, which always makes the writing of cheques more palatable. I felt righteous and ready once our tanslated documents arrived – only to discover on close reading of the application form that we had overlooked the language test…


Related articles

Insider tips on applying for French citizenship

How has Brexit affected this expat family in France?


Mark and Deborah Sampson have applied for French citizenship after living in France for 20 yearsMark and Deborah Sampson have applied for French citizenship after living in France for 20 years

Sitting a language test

My daughter and I were exempt from the language test – I was excused due to being over 60 and she because of her baccalauréat (and we urged her to underline the 20/20 mark for her French oral in her personal statement to accompany her application). It was only my wife who had to prove her linguistic competence, despite almost 20 years of working predominantly with French clients. She enrolled (expensively) for a test de connaissance du français, or TCF, at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM) in Limoges.

Her oral exam involved a kind of 5-6-minute role-play, which was recorded to be sent off for marking. An additional written exam involved two people speaking rapidly about a chosen subject a the basis for 29 multiple-choice questions to be answered inside 25 minutes. While scoring the top mark in the oral, she scraped a pass in the written.

Compiling the dossier

Once again, though, we underestimated the time these things take and couldn’t book three same-day interviews online until the back end of August. This did at least leave us plenty of time to assemble the dossiers. Just as well, since I discovered that I needed my first marriage certificate. A divorce decree, it seems, is no proof of matrimony.

We left the application form – in triplicate please – to last. To one Sunday, in fact, when we gathered at the dining table to assemble our dossiers. Generally a harmonious family, the tension got to us during the process of photocopying and collation of the seemingly countless documents required.


Related articles

How to become a French citizen

Brexit: Will British expats still be able to live in France?


Face-to-face interviews

After we has photocopied and collected all the documents required, the next step would be travelling to Toulouse for our appointment at the Bureau de la Naturalisation.

The process of queuing outside the préfecture’s Bureau de la Naturalisation with a motley crowd of immigrants and refugees was salutary. Many of them would be without even the security of papers. Even as ‘Brexpatriates’, we were the lucky ones.

Not that I felt quite so philosophical sitting outside the interview room when our daughter emerged as the chosen guinea pig to inform us that the notes we had downloaded to accompany our application forms differed from their notes. Fortunately, our two inquisitors proved human. We weren’t disqualified on the spot merely asked to forward certain missing documents

Both women spent much of the allocated time typing our answers to such questions as: Who is the symbol of the French Republic? What are its founding principles? Who is the current Prime Minister? What do you like doing with your wife?

In my earnest attempts to persuade the powers-that-be that I will make a worthy citizen, I wrote in my personal statement – and repeated to my examiner – that my principal reason for wanting dual nationality was that I have spent the happiest days of my life in France and hope to end my earthly tenure here. It’s true. True, too, that the process is a bit of an ordeal. You have to seriously want to jump through the hoops to receive the reward of security, the right to vote and the pride of telling someone, “Yes you guessed that I’m an Anglais, but I am also French.”

Now we wait, and we hope. And if we are granted citizenship, we plan to mark it with a glass of champagne (not Prosecco!) for some fellow communards at the mairie.

Are you applying to become a French citizen? We’d love to hear from you - email us your story

Other articles you might like:

How to find a job in France

Healthcare for expats in France

What effect could Brexit have on Brits in France?


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Complete France visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Complete France staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Complete France account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Living in France

Friday, September 22, 2017

Stars of TV series Escape to the Château, Dick and Angel, say hosting weddings at their French château is a dream come true

Read more
Thursday, September 21, 2017

After living in France for 30 years, Charles Timoney decided to apply to become a French citizen. Find out why and his experience of the application process

Read more
Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Your phone and broadband can be a significant monthly expense but here are 9 ways you can save money on your phone and broadband costs in France

Read more
Wednesday, July 5, 2017

All you need to know about the different electricity suppliers and tariffs in France and how to set up the electricity in your new French property

Read more
Monday, June 5, 2017

You might be booked up for the peak seasons, but how can you make money from your gîte or B&B during the quieter out-of-season periods as well? By knowing your audience and effectively tailoring your marketing, you can turn your French property into a thriving holiday let all year round!

Read more
Running a business
Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Is it better to buy a holiday let in an established tourist region or in a less well-known area? We take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both options

Read more
Running a business
Thursday, June 22, 2017

Seperation, divorce, illness or outliving a spouse results in many women struggling financially in retirement. Don’t rely on your partner to support you in retirement, start planning for your own retirement now!

Read more
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Don’t fall into the trap of paying huge charges on your investments – use these tips to help you save money and increase your returns to maximise your pension and savings

Read more
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The French pharmacy is so much more tham a place to pick up your prescriptions. Here are 11 things you might not know about pharmacies in France.

Read more
Healthcare in France
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It seems unlikely that, after Brexit, British expats living in France will enjoy the same healthcare rights as they currently do, so what will change?

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now