Whether we end up with a ‘hard’ Brexit, a ‘soft’ Brexit or as is more likely, a complete and utter mess Brexit, there’s no denying that British expats living in France feel jittery. No one really knows what’s going to happen or how things like healthcare and benefits will be affected, so for many of us, taking French nationality seems like a sensible course of action.
It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time. Apart from anything else, it makes life a lot easier administratively speaking but it was one of those jobs that always ended up on the back burner. But not any longer!
So I’ve waded through the http://www.gouv.fr site and have put together a handy guide to what you need to do.
The starting point is the website itself where you can complete an online form which will tell you exactly which documents you personally need to supply. You can also download the “la demande d’acquisition de la nationalité française” (formulaire cerfa numéro 12753*02) - you need to fill in and send two copies of this. You can also ask to change your name to something more French (I suppose Higginson could become ‘Igginson?), this form is called “la demande de francisation” and you also need to enclose “un timbre fiscal de 55 €” - these can be bought at any tabac but perhaps we ought to all buy them from Survive France’s resident ‘buraliste’ Andrew Hearne…
Then the fun starts. You will need your full birth certificate. If you’ve changed your name, the documentation that relates to that as well as documentation that proves your nationality (so your passport) and then a diploma or attestation stating your level of French. If you happen to have a French issued educational diploma (a Bac or Brevet certificate for example) you don’t need to do this. You are also excused from having to prove your inability to speak French if you are over 60, handicapped or suffer from a chronic health condition.
You will also need two passport photos with your name and DOB on the back, a SAE ( it doesn’t mention the size but I’d err on the side of caution and go with A4) and a 500grammes letter ‘suivie’. And, any documents that are not in French will need to be translated by a certified translator - “traducteur agréé” - you also need to send the originals.
If you’ve been married before you will need to send the divorce or death certificate
and any documentation relating to the identity of your current spouse if that isn’t made clear in the marriage certificate. You’ll also need to send birth certificates or adoption paperwork for any children you have and their ‘certificats de scolarité’ for the current academic year. If you are a home-owner, you need to produce the ‘L’attestation de propriété’ (equivalent to the title deeds) which will have been provided by the notaire at the time of sale.
If you’ve lived in France for less than ten years, you’ll need “un extrait original de casier judiciaire ou un document équivalent”- in other words a criminal records check and depending on your personal situation you may need to provide all or some of the following:
A copy of your inscription to any professional bodies (the Chambre des métiers for example)
Proof of your income for the last three years
Latest payment statement if you are receiving child, housing or unemployment benefit etc.
Tax returns for the last three years and last but not least, a “bordereau de situation fiscale, modèle P. 237, daté de moins de 3 mois portant sur les 3 dernières années accompagné des bulletins de salaire de novembre et décembre correspondant à ces 3 années. Ce document est délivré par la direction des finances publiques dont vous dépendez sur présentation des avis d’imposition”. As any salary payments are automatically included on tax returns these days, I fail to see the point of this last one but I’m not going to argue. Instead I’m off to the tax office next week to ask for one and will keep you posted!
Next time on French Nationality for Dummies or rather, French Nationality pour les nuls, I’ll be introducing you to SF’s resident certified translator. Watch this space!