For 18 long months I waited. Waited to see my name up in lights. Then, at 1am on the morning of the 15th of November my friend Gemma called me to tell me my name was in the JO. I was finally French. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, a moment I’ll truly never forget.
After the tears of joy subsided and I had a few days to soak in the news, I found myself thinking, so what’s next? What do I do now? I had spent so long waiting to be French, I hadn’t really thought about what I’d do when it actually happened…
So here’s what happened leading up to getting my nationality, and what steps I took to finally get French ID.
After Your Interview
First and foremost, once you’ve done your interview, the waiting begins. Unfortunately there’s not much you can do apart from wait until your name appears in le journal officiel (the JO). The SDANF and the SCEC will only reach out to you if there’s an issue with your file (e.g. if they need an extra document).
- SDANF (Sous-direction de l’accès à la nationalité française)
- SCEC (Le Service central d’état civil)
The wait time also depends on the prefecture. Some are slower than others and with the pandemic on top a lot of the prefectures are simply sous l’eau. The prefecture at Val-de-Marne said the wait would be 1 year but it took 18 months because of the pandemic. Easytrangers is a fantastic website when you can find information about which prefectures are currently leading in the race to naturalise foreigners. With each décret that is published they provide the JO itself, as well as helpful statistics on the naturalisations. These statistics will help give you an idea of how long your wait may be.
Secondly, if you have your numéro ministeriel, you can check the same statistics and see how many people remain to be naturalised. To get this number however, you will need to email the SDANF. Once again the wonderful forums on Easytrangers can provide you with both the email address and an example email to send here.
How do I check the JO?
Personally I always used Easytrangers to check the JO because I found the French website confusing and often difficult to access.
Easytrangers lists all the JO to date here.
Once you click on the décret you will be redirected to the French Government’s Website here.
From here you need to click on Accéder à l’espace protégé
You will be asked to answer a mathematical equation to prove you’re not a robot
Then you can click on Télécharger le document
This will give you access to the JO! All names are listed alphabetically.
Small tip – on a mobile you must open the website in chrome or the download will not work.
It’s been a long time since I did my interview, what can I do?
If your prefecture told you a year (like mine did) and you still haven’t heard after this time period has lapsed, I would recommend contacting the SCEC. This is where your file goes after the SDANF. You will find a template for this email at the bottom of this post.
If the SCEC have your file, they will be able to tell you (they are very responsive!) And if your file is with them, this is an extremely good sign. Files that reach this stage are almost never rejected.
I finally saw my name! Now what???
So after what feels like forever, your name has finally appeared on the JO. YOU ARE FRENCH! You will soon receive a letter confirming this and explaining that the rest of your file (including your letter from the President and your birth certificate) will also be dispatched to your address within the next 6 months.
The next step is getting your passport and CNI (Carte nationale d’identité). Personally, I would recommend waiting two or three weeks before doing this. I did it two days after (clearly I was very excited) and Nantes didn’t have time to prepare my birth certificate before Christmas so my request was delayed. If you wait a few weeks, it gives everyone time to be notified of your naturalisation.
After two or three weeks, you can do your pré-demande online. This a separate process for you passport and your CNI.
Once you have done this, the website will link you to your town hall. Either you’ll be able to make an appointment online or they’ll give you a number to call.
The whole process was very simple. The CNI is free (for the first one) but of course you have to pay for your passport. From memory it was about 86 euros.
Do they need my French birth certificate?
Usually no, but my town hall asked me to provide one. If this does happen to you, you can order one online (even though it says you can’t for the purpose of a passport or CNI). You simply click autres for your reason of request and say it’s for raisons personelles. I did this and my birth certificate arrived just over a week later, it was very quick!
The website for this request can be found here.
(Yes it looks like something from the 90s, but it’s the correct website).
The Final Step
Once at your appointment you’ll give in your pré-demande forms (these must be printed) and they will go over all the information with you again to make sure there are no errors. They will also take your fingerprints. After that it’s usually a delay of 8-10 days before you’ll get a text to say your new IDs are ready! Et voilà, you are officially French and you have ID to prove it! Félicitations!!!!
I hope this article helps other people during the naturalisation process and if you are just starting off your application, you can find installments 1-4 here:
How to Apply for French Nationality:
- Part 1 – Paperwork
- Part 2 – French Test
- Part 3 – The Prefecture (dropping off your file)
- Part 4 – The Interview
Template for Email to the SCEC:
Subject line: Demande d’état d’avancement – (insert numéro ministeriel here)
Send to: Br2.SCEC@diplomatie.gouv.fr
Je me permets de vous contacter pour savoir si mon dossier vous est parvenu. Pourriez-vous me donner un état d’avancement si possible, s’il vous plaît ?
Numéro ministériel : 2019X 000000
Nom : François
Prénom : Claude
Dans l’attente d’une réponse de votre part, veuillez recevoir Madame, Monsieur, l’expression de mes salutations distinguées.
Madame / Monsieur ….