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How To Get French Citizenship After Moving To France

Are you wondering how to get French citizenship after moving to France? Applying for any foreign citizenship can be stressful and confusing. There is usually a lot of paperwork, time and effort involved, and anything that can help to make the process more simple and straightforward (such as reading this blog) is worth doing. 

You’re probably here because you’re wondering how to get French citizenship, understandably so! Becoming a French citizen and being able to live in France long-term has many things that you’ll benefit from such as France’s sustainability measures and low crime rates. You can read more about how permanently moving to France can benefit you in our blog on the Pros and Cons of Living in France. 

However, chances are if you’re reading this blog you might already be living in France. Becoming a French citizen is possible if you meet the criteria of one of two routes: 

  • Applying by declaration  -This route to getting French citizenship is only possible if you have a relative connection to France such as a spouse or child.
  • Applying by decree -Applying by decree is the route to French nationality you’ll need to take if you have no pre-existing legal connection to France (such as French relatives).

Getting French Citizenship Through Applying by Declaration

If you’re taking this application route, you’re requesting to be recognised as French because of a legal entitlement. This entitlement could come from one of the following circumstances:

  • You’ve been married to a French citizen for at least 4 years (this extends to 5 years if you can’t prove that you have lived in France for at least 3 years). 
  • You’re a parent or grandparent of a French citizen.
  • You’re the sibling of a French citizen, you’ve lived in France since you were 6, and you’re now 18 years old or over.
  • You were born in France.

Getting French Citizenship Through Applying by Decree

This route to French citizenship means that you’re asking for legal permission to become French. In other words, you don’t have any legal connections to France (such as being a relative of a French citizen) and so you must be granted legal authorisation to become a French national by decree.

How to Get French Citizenship - The Basics

So, how do you become a French citizen? Well, you can apply to get French citizenship either online or by going to a local town hall (mairie). Either way, you will need to produce the relevant documents in a dossier which may include things like a bank statement as proof of residency and income, and your birth certificate as proof of identity. Any documentation that is not already in French must be translated by an official translator.

Once complete, your dossier will need to be given to your local town hall, or the French consulate if you’re applying for citizenship from outside of France. Your dossier has to be submitted to French authorities within a maximum of six months of requesting French citizenship. 

If your dossier is officially approved, you can then expect to take two tests. One testing your ability to understand the French language, it is expected that you’ll be able to speak and understand French to B1 level at a minimum. The other tests your knowledge of French law, government, history, culture and life and this usually takes place as an interview. 

In some circumstances, getting French citizenship in a shorter amount of time (2-3 years) may be possible. These circumstances include:

  • French military service
  • Studying at a French university
  • Achieving something outstanding in science, art, sports, or economics
  • You have family permanently living in France

Key Points about Becoming a French Citizen 

  1. Regardless of how you apply for French citizenship, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate that your French language skills are at B1 level or above to be considered. This is generally thought to be equivalent to achieving an A/A* in the French language GCSE. 
  2. Upon receiving confirmation of French citizenship, you won’t have to renounce your current nationality status if you don’t want to. It’s possible to have dual citizenship. 
  3. Be ready for the testing process. You’ll need to pass your interview in order to become a French citizen and the process requires you to have knowledge of French living customs, the French language, French history, along with other key areas regarding life in France such as a basic understanding of French law.

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