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A guide to becoming a French citizen in a post-Brexit world

© AFP | An image of France's national symbol, Marianne

Text by Khatya CHHOR

Latest update : 2016-07-02

With Britons living across the EU now wondering what Brexit will mean for their legal status abroad, many in France are looking to become citizens – a protracted process that mainly involves collecting a vast array of documentation.

Becoming a French citizen is a lengthy and often disheartening process that involves collecting a multitude of documents related to your origins, employment status and French tax history, among other personal details. Anyone who has lived in France continually for five years or more can apply. British and US nationals do not need to renounce their current citizenships to become French.

Once you have amassed the documentation required, you must submit your dossier to the local Préfecture de Police by registered mail (recommandé avec accusé de réception; in-person submissions are not accepted) or to a French embassy or consulate. The authorities then have a full year to respond, at which point you will receive a summons (convocation) to appear for a brief interview.

Documents required for submission (for the official list in French, click here)

Most of the documents below need to be less than a year old when you submit your dossier de naturalisation. Many of them can be requested online and the French authorities are remarkably efficient at responding to requests quickly – you will usually receive the documents by mail within a week.

A recent, official copy of your birth certificate with apostille.

British nationals can order an apostilled birth certificate online.

US citizens must contact the local authorities where they were born to request an official copy or they can be obtained online for a fee. They must then request an apostille from a local branch of the State Department. (Please note that an apostille is different from either certification or notarisation.) For more on apostilles, click here.

Recent, official copies of your parents’ birth certificates. Since you can only request a copy of your own birth certificate (or those of your children), your parents must request the copies themselves. If one or both of your parents are deceased, you may be asked to submit an official copy of a death certificate instead.

A recent, official copy of your parents’ marriage certificate or licence. Contact the local authorities where they were married to request an official copy. This can also often be done online (see links below).

Recent, official copy of your marriage licence. If you are married, contact the local authorities where the marriage was registered and request a copy.

Photocopy of spouse or partner’s ID (foreign passport or French ID).

Children’s birth certificates. If you have children who are minors, recent official copies of their birth certificates.

N.B.: The official copies of all the above documents must be translated into French by a court-approved translator (click here or here for a list). The translated versions are valid for three months only, so it is a good idea to wait until you have collected the rest of your documentation for your dossier before getting the translations done.

Citizenship request form. You must submit two completed Cerfa No. 12753*02 forms, which are available online.

Criminal record check. If you have lived in France for less than 10 years you must furnish a form from your national police stating that you do not have a criminal record in your country of origin. British citizens can make this request online. US citizens must get their fingerprints taken by a certified authority and then submit them to the FBI by mail. (To get fingerprints taken in Paris, click here.)

Bulletin No. 3 (a form stating that you have no criminal record in France). Request it online here.

Two ID photos. 23x45mm, with your full name and birth date written on the back.

Foreign passport. A copy of the photo page of your passport.

French ID. Photocopies of the front and back of your French ID card (carte de séjour), if applicable.

Timbre fiscal in the amount of €55. Available for purchase at tobacconists, these stamps are worth the cash amount printed on them. To be submitted in a sealed envelope marked with your name.

French language test. A language test (Test de français international or TFI) must be taken at a government-approved language centre such as ETS Global. Submit a photocopy of your test certificate with your dossier (you will be asked for the original at your interview with the prefecture).

This test is not necessary if you already have either (a) a diploma from a French authority stating that you have attained language level “V”, (b) a diploma stating you have attained level “B1” from a Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR or CECR) authority, or (c) a certificate stating that you have passed either the TCF, TEFDELF/DALF, DCL or BULATS French language tests.

If you are still in the process of learning French, you may submit an “attestation” (statement) from a language school that is certified as a French language integration (Français langue d’intégration) centre.

Proof of residence. If you are renting in France, a photocopy of your lease agreement and photocopies of your rental receipts for the last three months. If you own an apartment, a photocopy of the deed.

Telephone and/or electricity bill. A photocopy of your last bill(s). Submit both if you can.

Proof of employment. If you are employed in France, you will need a copy of your employment contract and a recent “attestation” from your employer’s HR department stating how long you have been employed there, your title and your salary.

Pay slips. Photocopies of your salary receipts from the last three months and your pay slips from November and December of the last three years.

Bordereau de situation fiscal (a form from the French tax authorities saying you are up to date with your payments). This can be obtained in person from your local tax office. You can also request it online here (you must first create an account using your numéro fiscal, then click "Faire une démarche" and “Obtenir un relevé de mes paiements”). Please note that you will need the bordereau to reflect both your income tax (impôt sur le revenu) and residency tax (taxe d'habitation) payments.

French tax bills. Photocopies of your French tax bills (avis d’imposition) from the last three years.

Once you have submitted all the documents needed for your naturalisation dossier, the authorities have up to a year to respond. When they do you will be summoned for a short interview at the Préfecture de Police in which you will be asked some questions about your personal situation as well as some basic questions about France, e.g., the colours of the flag, the name of France's national symbol (Marianne) and perhaps some questions regarding the French national ideal of secularism (la laïcité). Your completed dossier will then be sent to the Interior Ministry for official consideration.

The list above is by no means meant to be exhaustive; the documents you will be required to submit will vary based on your personal circumstances. For example, if you have been married to a French citizen for at least four years, some (but not many) of the document requirements may be waived. You will, however, be required to furnish other documentation concerning your spouse and will be interviewed (separately) about details of your life together.

For further information, see the following links (in French):

Home page of the Préfecture de Police on how to become a naturalised French citizen.

A personalised list of documents you need to provide for your dossier, based on your individual situation, is available online. Note that you may still be asked for some of the additional documents listed above.

Official copies of birth, marriage and death certificates can often be ordered online. British citizens can request them by clicking here, Americans can obtain them here. When requesting a US birth certificate at the link above, be sure to select the "for apostille/authentication" option when asked why you need the document.

Date created : 2016-06-29


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