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Key formalities

Conditions for applying for French citizenship
Naturalisation, marriage, birth in France
French citizenship can be applied for, but it is not a right: the administration reserves the right to refuse it. French citizenship can be obtained through naturalisation, marriage and birth.
To be naturalised in France, the person must be over 18 and apply at the local French préfecture, providing two completed copies of the required form. Thereafter, all documents of proof must be provided within six months of the application.
Persons requesting naturalisation must provide proof of their integration into the French community. This means that they must speak sufficient French and show sufficient knowledge of French culture, society and the rights and duties of French citizens. All this information is provided in the Charter of the Rights and Duties of French Citizens.
This charter is handed to naturalised citizens at the citizenship ceremony organised by the préfecture within 6 months of naturalisation.
Marriage to a French citizen
Marriage to a French citizen does not automatically grant the right to French citizenship: you must wait 4 years from the date of marriage. After this period, the foreign spouse can obtain French citizenship by declaration, provided that the following conditions are met at the date of his/her declaration:
- emotional and material conjugal life between the spouses has not ceased since the marriage;
- the French spouse has kept his/her French citizenship.
The foreign spouse must also justify sufficient knowledge of the French language. This will be assessed according to his or her condition.
A period of 5 years of conjugal life is required for spouses who do not live together regularly or for expatriate spouses without proof that the French citizen is on the registry of French citizens living outside France.
Children born on French soil
If the parents are foreign citizens, the child can claim French citizenship as from his/her 16th birthday. Full citizenship will be granted on coming of age. At that date, the child must reside in France and have had his/her main residence in France for at least five years (whether continuously or not) since the age of 11. Foreign parents of a child born in France, aged at least 13 and resident in France since the age of 8 can request French citizenship on behalf of the child. The declaration is made before a magistrate with the child's consent.
Lastly, naturalisation can be granted to a minor who is still considered a foreign citizen whereas one of his/her parents has gained French citizenship. The French parent must provide evidence that he/she has been living in France with the child over the 5 years prior to the application.
Identity papers in a foreign language must be translated by a translator approved by the préfecture, which can provide a list of such translators upon request.
© All Contents, Laurence de PERCIN, janvier 2014.
Groupe Société Générale