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France - Citizenship

Those who have lived and worked in France for some years or have some other French link that may allow them to apply for French citizenship (nationalité), but there are many different sets of circumstances under which a person may qualify for French nationality.

If an individual is born in another country but has at least one French parent, then they have the right to apply for citizenship. They do not have to be in the country in order to make this application as their right is guaranteed.

In a similar way, those who are married to a French national and have been for a minimum of four years are able to apply for French nationality. In order to apply individuals will need to have a copy of their own birth certificate, translated into French by an official translator, the birth certificate of their French spouse and a copy of the marriage certificate. The time period can be reduced if you and your spouse have a child together and can prove that you are still living in the same home.

A person who has been in the country for a continuous period of five years can apply for naturalisation. This is not an automatic right and approval is in the hands of the French High Administrative Authority. A person must be able to show that they are able to speak French well and that they are of good standing, as well as having contributed in the form of taxes and social security contributions. A spell in prison of more than six months will result in any citizenship application being rejected. For those who have spent a minimum of two years at a French university, this five year period can be altered to two years as a working resident. For this a person makes the request at the nearest prefecture although a reply should not be expected quickly, as this can often take more than a year.

This will include an investigation into your life in France and will look into how well you have integrated into French society.

A person applying for naturalisation must also be resident in the country at the time of application and when the application is granted, otherwise it will be withdrawn. Those who have naturalisation granted will then find that their children then have an automatic right to French citizenship providing that they are resident in the country as their parents are.

A child who was born in France but to foreign parents has the right to apply for citizenship when he/she comes of age providing they have has five years of residency in the country after the age of 11. A child born in France to stateless parents also has the right to citizenship if the parents are living in the country.

In order to make an application you need to provide a certain amount of documentation. This includes your birth certificate, identification (such as a passport), a marriage certificate if applicable, details of any dependent children in the family, proof of employment status and evidence of address. You will also need to provide a reference to your good character, which will need to be written by an employer or somebody with a position of responsibility that knows you well.

As the application is being processed, you may find that you have to attend a hearing known as a tribunal d’instance. This is where the applicant formally signs the application request in the presence of a judge. A further interview may be required with the police, in order to prove your proficiency in the French language.

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Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.