Expat Advice

How to apply for French Nationality Part One – The Paperwork

Find out if you’re eligible to apply

First things first, if you want to apply for French nationality you need to find out if you are eligible to apply. This information can be found on the servicepublic.fr website but, it’s only in French, so here’s a short translation:

Nationality by Declaration

  • through marriage to a French person
  • if you have a French descendant, this is only available if you are over 65 and have been living in France for over 25 years
  • when you have a brother or sister who has French nationality

Nationality by Naturalisation 

There are many ways that you can acquire your nationality through naturalisation but the most popular ways are:

  • If you have lived in France for over 5 years
  • If you have completed 2 years of higher education in France

You are also expected to have adapted to French culture, integrated into French life and to have a professional career in France. The type of contract you have (e.g. CDD or a CDI) will not be an obstacle to obtaining nationality as long as you can prove you have stable and sufficient resources. Lastly, you will have to prove that your French level is B1 or above by taking a test. When you have your final interview with the Prefecture they will also test your French.

So now you can apply, what’s next?

The best thing you can do first is find out which prefecture you need to apply to as different prefectures have different processes. For example, the Prefecture de Paris asks you to send your application by post. On the other hand, my prefecture (Creteil – Val de Marne) asks you to make an appointment to drop off your documents. You can find out this information here under depôt de la demande.

After that, you can download the form you need to fill in and the notice d’information that goes with it. This will help you fill in the form and will also tell you which documents you need (depending on your situation).

Download the form here

Download the manual here

The form will need to be filled in twice as you need to submit two copies.

What documents will you need?

This can vary depending on your situation but the general documents needed for any application are the following:

  • ORIGINALS of your birth certificate, your parents birth or death certificate, your parents marriage or divorce certificate. If you are from the UK you can apply at https://www.gov.uk/order-copy-birth-death-marriage-certificate they cost around £10 each*
  • A police record check from your home country (if you lived there for more than 6 months in the last 10 years), if you are from the UK you can apply for one at https://www.acro.police.uk/police_certificates.aspx, it costs around £50
  • These documents will need to be translated by a government approved translator, I used Davron Translations and would highly recommend them, you can get a quote from them on their website, but translations are usually around €50 per page https://davrontranslations.com/
  • a photocopy of your passport or titre de sejour
  • a fiscal stamp amounting to €55, you can get these from your local tabac
  • a French certificate showing that your level of French is B1 or above. If you have a higher education diploma from a French institute you do not need to do this, you will submit your diploma. If you, like me, did not attend a French university then you will have to take the test which costs around €98.  You can book it here
  • 2 passport photos with your first name, last name and date of birth on the back

*Note – the manual tells you to get your birth certificate légalisés or apostillés but if you’re from the UK this is not necessary*

Other documents you can expect to provide are:

WORK

  1. Your current work contract
  2. Certificat du travail for the last three years (if possible), you can just ask your HR department to do this for you, it’s very easy
  3. Your last three payslips

TAXES

  1. Your avis d’imposition or non-imposition for the last three years, with your payslips from November and December that correspond to these three years
  2. A bordereau de situation fiscale modèle P.237 for the last three years, find out how to get this here

PROPERTY

  1. Renters – you’ll need your rental contract, your last three quittances de loyer, your last electricity or telephone bill
  2. Owners – you’ll need a l’acte de propriété
  3. If someone is putting you up, you will need them to write an attestation d’hébergement – a letter saying you live with them (you can find models online, it’s very simple to do!) and supporting evidence of the identity of the person whom you live with

Other documents may be required but it really depends on your situation. Everything is very well explained in the manual that you can download but sadly there is no English version, so you may have to get a French person to clarify a few things for you.

In any case, the documents required are not hard to get, it just takes time, A  LOT of patience and  of course quite a bit of money. All in all the process will cost around 500 euros, but when you consider that’s to have the chance become French for the rest of your life, it’s quite a small price to pay!

This is just part one of a series of blog posts that I will be writing to help people apply for French nationality, come back soon for part two where I will give you advice about the French test!

Check out my article on translation help for more info on Davron translations!

49 Comments

  • Taylor

    Hi! I have a question regarding the 2 years of higher educaTion in france. If i have already coMPleted two years, does that mean i can immediately apply for cItizenship or will i have to live in france for another 2 years? Thank you!

  • dEN c

    i’VE JUST STARTED APPLYING FOR NATURALISATION, AND THE FORM ASKS ME TO SUPPLY THE BIRTH CERTIFICATES AND CURRENT ADDRESSES FOR MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS (FOUR OF THEM IN MY CASE). iS THIS REALLY REQUIRED?
    i’M A PENSIONER AND IT DOES SEEM A LITTLE OTT!

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi there, that does seem a little odd and was not required by my prefecture. However, I know that every prefecture is different. If it says it on the forms, you will need to fill it in. Good luck!

  • Natasha

    Hello, can you enlighten me on the following matter :
    My mother was born in a French colony (Madagascar) in 1945. I was born in India. Mum’s deceased now.
    So am I eligible to apply for French citizenship by virtue of my mum being born in a French territory?

    Thanks in advance !

  • Abigale

    Hello, love your blog!
    I was wondering about the birth and marriage certificates. Certain sites say they need to be originals AND less than 3 months old. Is this true?
    Thank you.

    • Arthur

      The 3 month rule is because the French have to write to the administrative centre of their region to get a
      copy of their paperwork (Birth Certs etc) which is less than 3 months for all official business. This does not apply to UK documentation, where you have a birth certificate for ‘life’.

      They will however want originals – I also had to get them translated when I went through the process earlier this year.

      • My Life Living Abroad

        Yes I learnt recently that foreign (i.e. non French) documents don’t go out of date. This also applied for my translations which I delivered recently, they were 6 months old but the prefecture didn’t bat an eyelid!

        • jerry

          Hiya, great blog especially as I am applying for french naturalisation and I am unclear about the criminal record check document I need to ask for from acro.police.uk . I noticed you mentioned the police certificate as the document needed and not the subject access. I am confused as acro couldn’t tell me which of the 2 I needed, my prefecture hasn’t replied to the mail I sent a month ago about this query and the French embassy in the UK said to provide only the subject access on their site “https://uk.ambafrance.org/Delivrance-d-un-extrait-de-casier-judiciaire-12096-12096-12096-12096-12096-12096-12096-12096-12096-12096-12096”. This is apparently according to section 45 of the 2018 data protection act. Do you have any insights into the confusion on the documents to provide for criminal record checks? Thanks

        • My Life Living Abroad

          Yes same for me! My translations were about 7 months old but they didn’t care. I think they know they can’t ask for new ones when they are out of date because we had to wait for an appointment for months and months…

  • Matt Tofield

    Hello, thanks for some very clear information, I’m just starting out on this process so your blog has been very useful. I have a question about income that perhaps you can help me with. My imcome is from running a Chambre d’hote here in France, so obviously I’m self-employed. Do you know what level of income the Prefecture will expect me to have? I’m assuming that I will simply prove my income from my last three years of tax paperwork?

  • Betty

    A friend of mine who is married to a French national was asked to pay
    609 euros timbre fiscal, before he could pick up his first titre de séjour at the prefecture, Is this a normal situation?

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Betty, unfortunately I have never applied for a CDS so can’t help with your friend’s situation. However, that does seem very high to me considering that a French nationality (passport) file only costs 55 euros in timbre fiscal.

    • Maslen

      HI

      My husband and I were able to apply for and get our Carte de sejour in Saone-et-Loire – completely free of charge. We are of course still EU citizens – is your friend a Third country national? In the event of no deal Brexit UK expats have been told they too will have to pay for titre de sejour like third country nationals

  • Christopher

    Hi, I need some advice regarding my French Nationality application.

    I have completed my application and interview for French Nationality which went well, but I have just been contacted to say that I need to provide a UK Criminal Record check as the length of time I have spent in Switzerland and the corresponding (clean) Criminal Record Check from Switzerland is not long enough (7 years).

    So I have requested and received my criminal record check from the UK, and it lists a Penalty Notice I received in 2006 for “Use disorderly behaviour or threatening/ abusive/ insulting words likely to cause harassment alarm or distress”. I paid a £60 fine for the silly incident and that was the end of it, no court appearance, just a slap on the wrists for being a fool.

    I have submitted a request for the incident be deleted from my record, and I am awaiting a decision which could be in the next 28 days or up to 6 months away.

    I need to know if this incident on my otherwise clean record will scupper my chances of gaining French Nationality? Please advise.

    Thanks for any advice you can provide.

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Christopher, although I believe I am can be quite informative about a lot of parts of the nationality process, I know nothing about this. It might be worth you joining the facebook group Applying for French Nationality and asking your question there. Some other expats may have been through a similar experience. Here’s the link to the group. I hope that helps! https://www.facebook.com/groups/155831851500936/?ref=br_rs

  • katy bishop

    Hello thank you so much for very clear instructions to apply ! I have been in France for 10yrs ( married to a Frenchman ) and have been putting this off too long . You have made it so simple so thank you !

  • Kristyna Anderlova

    Hey Chloe, where can I find which documents need to be “apostillés” and if it’s necessary for EU citizens?

    Thanks Kris 🙂

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Kristyna, when you download the form to fill in for nationality it will tell you which documents need to be apostilled. If you are from the UK you don’t need to get them stamped 🙂 if you’re from somewhere else, you can find a list of countries that don’t need to be apositilled online. Hope that helps!

  • Pranav

    Hi,

    This is indeed a very interesting blog! It really helped me to understand better the requirements. I do have one questions, which if you could answer, it would be great! I did my PhD. in France so this should satisfy the naturalisation by study requirement for applying. However, there was no need for French in my degree so does that mean I have to give the TCF ANF? or I do not need to given that I have a degree from a French university, albeit without needing any French?

    Cheers for this blog!

    Pranav

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Pranav, as long as your degree was issued by a French University you will not need to take a French exam. However, you will have an interview in French at the end and they will check that your level is B1 or above at this point. Glad my blog helped you! 🙂

  • Noela Frances

    Hi there,

    I have been told that people over 65 do not have to speak French, or be tested. Please advise.

    Please advise and thankyou!

  • Anne

    My mother and grandmother were born in France. My mother left at age 20 for the U.S. with my half brother who was also born in France.
    Am I able to get French citizenship? I have all the French birth certificates and mine and my father’s and the apostilles. Grandfather’s and marriage certificates with apostilles. Just about ready to send as 3 months will expire in 2 weeks. Difficult to find an application for this situation. Can you help?

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Anne, you should be able to apply if your mother was French. Try asking in the facebook group “Applying for French Nationality”, someone there will have definitely been in the same situation as you and should be able to help. Good luck!

  • lorraine harpwood

    we are applying for French Nationality. We are retired and have lived here for 13 years ….so far so good !
    On applying for the certificates needed from the general register in England they will send them translated into french .Would that be accepted for our application

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Lorraine, it really depends on the prefecture. Some accept them and some don’t. Best to contact the prefecture and ask. Good luck!

  • Nick Feasey

    Great article….very helpful. I just passed my B1 so now starting on this arduous journey of French citizenship. Our problem is that the local prefecture were last giving out appointments for 2022! I do hope they speed things up a little!
    If anybody knows what the arbitrary income levels are I’d be grateful…as I’ve been salaried fr 9 years but Recently set up my own Sarl!
    Thanks, Nick

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Thanks Nick!! So glad you found it helpful! Oh wow, 2022 is so far away, do you know why there is such a delay? I wouldn’t know for the income levels but try the Facebook group Applying for French Nationality and someone there might be able to help you. Good luck!

  • Rébécca Sídlo

    Hi! I have another question for you.. I was not born in France, but have grown up in France from age 3 to 14. I spent 6 years outside of France. I have been back for 1,5 year now. I have no French family members. I spend 11 years in France am I eligible? Or do I have to spend another 5 years in France in order to apply for naturalization?

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Rebecca, unfortunately I think if you left the country your timeline restarts at zero. You have to apply while you’re living here and stay living here until the process is over so you will have to wait until you’ve been here for 5 years. It would be different if you had been born here…

  • M k kumar

    I applied in 2020 .got reply to prove that ur father birth certificate is registered in Pondicherry.. yes i have. But the date is different from the date earlier submitted
    So it shows 2birth certificate with different date.the one taken in Pondicherry is crt.if i send the birth certificate of my father it will be rejected.how to i prove the judge in national ity section in france

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi there, I’m sorry I really don’t know, try the facebook group Applying for French Nationality. Maybe someone there can help you!

  • Colin Kentish-Barnes

    My wife and I are applying to become French. I am 82 – my wife 76. We have lived in France since 1981. We have 5 adult children – three of them with French Husbands. We have three French grand children.
    We own 3 properties in France. Which forms do I need to make the correct application

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Colin, I’m sorry but I’m not an expert in all situations. I only know how to apply in my case (naturalisation after 5 years). It would be best that you contact your prefecture about this. Or try the facebook group, applying for French Nationality. Someone there might be able to help you. Best, Chloe

  • Toby

    Hi just getting the process started myself.
    I have my birth certificate translated and apostilled from 6 years ago from going through the PACS process. Any chance these documents can be used to apply for my nationality or do I need to get them translated and apostilled again? Thanks, any help is greatly appreciated!

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Toby, it really depends. You would have to check if they were translated by a certified translator (the prefecture’s have a list of who they accept translations from). If the person or company you used is on the list you can re-use them. If not, you will have to find someone on the list and get the document re-translated by them. Hope that helps!

  • Linkon

    Hi ,
    I have a question if anyone missed to write the information of their sibling in the nationality application form. What he/she should do?
    Is there any problem for this in future after achieving the nationality?

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi, I wouldn’t worry too much. You will be invited to go to an interview at some point. Just make sure you take 2 or 3 (depends on the prefecture) copies of the forms you filled out but a new version with your sibling’s info (or possibly just a few copies of the page about your family so you can ask them to replace it in your file). Hope that helps!

  • Tony

    Hi,

    I looked at the links for the form and for the manual. They appear to be the same document?

    Regards,

    Tony

    PS Everyone, even if over 60 years of age, now needs proof of French language capability.

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Tony! Thanks for flagging about the link, I have now corrected it.
      Indeed at the time when I wrote the post you didn’t, but you’re right it has since changed!

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