Getting French Nationality: The Beginners Guide!

Getting French Nationality: The Beginners Guide!

Like so many other Brits abroad, this was my reaction when I woke up to the results of the Brexit vote.


To say I was in shock is an understatement and although I had a horrible feeling that the UK would vote to leave, I was still hoping that it wouldn't come to pass.  Sadly though, it did, and now Brits everywhere are asking themselves one question:

What do we do now?

Well, now the place I've called home for many years may eventually have to kick me out, I have decided to apply for French citizenship and become une vraie Française once and for all. In this blog, I'll explain just how you can do that!

Step one

Find out if you are eligible for applying for citizenship. For example, the following people are eligible:

  • People who have been living in France for five continuous years
  • People who studied in a French university, in which case it's two years
  • People who have been married to a French citizen for at least four years,  as long as: you are still married, your spouse keeps their French citizenship and if you can prove that you have a good level of French.

There are other situations in which you can apply for citizenship but these are the three most popular! Read more about people who are eligible to apply here , under Becoming a French citizen.

Step two

Now you know you're eligible, head over to the Service Public website and click on Dépôt de la demande. Then, type in your postal code to find out where you will (eventually) send your file. If you live in Paris you will send your documents to the Préfecture de police de Paris at 11 rue des Ursins, 75004.

Step three

Find out what documents you need to send. First things first, you have to fill in a
Cerfa n°12753*02 
form (twice, you must send two copies) which you can find here under dossier. To find out what other documents you need go directly to the Prefecture de la Police website and answer the questions (under Naturalisation - Démarches). These questions will lead to your list of documents and you'll be able to print them from there. I recommend having a French person nearby as some of the questions are difficult to understand!

It's very important to get the right list of documents as it differs depending on your situation. For example, if you are applying for nationality through marriage the form is different. You can find it here.

When you have your list, the rest of the process is surprisingly straightforward! There are a lot of documents to provide but you should already have most of them if you've been living here for a while. Once you get to know French bureaucracy, you keep EVERYTHING.

Step Four: Don't freak out

The process of getting French nationality can be quite long (it takes between 6-12 months on average) and fairly expensive because of the cost of translating documents and the French test you have to take. BUT, don't give up at the first hurdle. Start your process in advance so you can take your time and ask for help along the way. There are some great Facebook groups where people share their experiences and offer advice and encouragement to each other: Applying for French Nationality; Naturalisation (Retour d'expérience); British People Gaining French Citizenship Together In Toulouse. The latter isn't exclusive to those who live in and around Toulouse, people from all over France are welcome.

Start with this beginner's guide and don't hesitate to ask for help from French people or those who have already been through the process, you will most probably need it! However, don't you worry,  if you're patient and determined during the process you'll get there, then you can eat and drink fantastic wine and cheese for the rest of your days.

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