French Nationality for Dummies

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 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!

Start here!


"You are also excused from having to prove your inability to speak French … ". Freudian slip, Madame 'Igginson? Love it!


I do try. :slight_smile:


What happens when Marine Le Pen wins the next election?


Very trying… :grinning:

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Hi re Dual nationality-if your child is 30 do I have to have her birth certificate?

Everyone needs a birth certificate.

Thanks, but she doesn’t live here-I know its France.

Hi there
Brexit and its (unkown) consequences are a worrying thing for any UK passport holder living in France (or other EU countries). I am married to a French lady, have been living in France since 1981 and am now retired in Sunny Provence. I worked for a French company for over 30 years, paid French taxes and all social contributions etc, and have the Carte Vital for health treatment. However I am proud of my UK nationality and would like to retain it, and also take an EU status if that option becomes required/available. My pension is 90% paid in France through the French systems, but I do receive a small pension from UK for the years worked in UK (about 20 years) prior to moving to France. Does anyone have any thoughts on people like myself who are fully immersed in the French system but retain a UK passport? I live near Aix-en-Provence and would be interested to meet like-minded UK nationals in in the area.

Hi Phillip, I haven’t been here as long as you (only 11 years) working all that time, now running a business and employing French people. My OH is French as are our two kids. Before that I alqo spent a year teaching in Brittany and did my Maîtrise at Aix-en -Provence so know your “coin” a little. Like you, I want to retain my UK passport as no matter how integrated/pseudo-French I am, I’m still British, or English to be more precise, and would prefer just to keep going under the current agreements. Will that be possible? Who knows, some say that Brexit will never happen as it’s just too complicated, peu import, if it does then I’ll apply for naturalisation or a carte de séjour or what ever else seems the best option at that time, perhaps the affiliated EU citizenship will come into being and that would be the most apt. fin bref, on verra ! :wink:
Unfortunately I’m too far away (in the Tarn) and have very little time for travel as I run a tabac and have a young family meaning that I’m a very long way off the Peter Mayle style life here in France!

Thanks for the reply Andrew. Its certainly a cloudy area and lets see if any other replies can blow away some of the cloud cover - but I think its a bit too soon…a suivre :grinning:

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You don’t need to renounce your British nationality to obtain French nationality. Unlike Spain where you must renounce your British nationality to obtain Spanish nationality.

I know, Simon, I just haven’t got the time, desire or the energy to go through all that hassle unless it’s necessary :wink:

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Me neither!!! :slight_smile:


I am hoping common sense will prevail if and when Brexit actually happens. What of all the French people living and working in the UK? Will they need to seek UK Nationalty in order to remain there? Surely if we have been living and working in France for over 10 years, fully integrated, paying all our taxes here, France/EU will not suddenly turn its back on us? Maybe I am being naeve but surely common sense will prevail?

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Could that be because Spain has a monarchy (like the UK) where they may be a conflict of interests (you can’t serve 2 masters) whereas France is a Republic?

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Hi, my husband and I live in Vaison-la-Romaine so not too far from Aix…
We have a good friend who moved from here to Aix and loves it, and we visited a couple of months ago to visit the Turner exhibition. We are all anxious about losing our health care etc…and as retirees having moved here in 2001 wonder where we stand? We pay our taxes here too but sold our house earlier in the year and are now renting in Vaison.
Having sold our house, we have bought an apartment in Chichester which is being Let to give us income. After Brexit the idea of going back is very unattractive although have children and grandchildren living in the U.K.

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I’m taking the French exam in December. It’s a start…

I believe they also require your parents’ birth certificates. The last time I asked for a copy of my own it cost me £25 so it’s an expensive procedure as you then have to have them officially translated too.

I don’t think so as there is a similar provision in Austria which is a republic.

There are roughly 3m EU citizens living in the UK and roughly 2m UK citizens living in various EU countries, primarily France and Spain. It still seems to me that the most likely outcome is that existing rights of residence will be preserved. That does not mean that there may not be other good reasons for taking French nationality, but I agree with you that common sense will probably prevail.

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