French Nationality for Dummies

You are very welcome!
In case any of you have French spouses and are applying or considering applying for French nationality by “declaration à raison de mariage”, I would recommend that you download and study carefully the following memorandum to all Prefectures and Consulates from the Ministry responsible for immigration. It is an internal document but is in the public domain, and I found that it does ease considerably what can be a difficult task by explaining how the procedure is intended to work (assuming of course that you already have a reasonable understanding of the language!).

thanks for that… if Brexit becomes catastrofix it may be needed !!

'i have an interesting question…
Married to my French wife (at a registry office in UK), I still am UK citizen with UK passport. Living in France for over 35 years and always paid French taxes etc, so fully integrated. My question is about my UK marriage certificate and is it valid in France in the event Brexit turns bad (probable) and I need to apply for French nationality. Any thoughts would be appreciated

English Marriage Cert is a legal document…certifying a legal event… so not really sure what you are querying.

UK Marriage Cert has been accepted in France since before UK was in the EU… so no reason to worry… in my view… unless you fancy getting married all over again…:heart_eyes:

thanks for that - no remarrying plans - just thinking ahead in case

Hi Phillip,
whilst I don’t disagree with what Stella says about the English Marriage Certificate being a legal document you might want to check that it’s also recorded in France.

I married my French wife in UK and when she recently applied for a French passport she was told that she was viewed as still single/maiden name in France as she hadn’t ‘notified’ the French State of her change of status!

My wife is taking a passport in maiden name and will then apply for amendment as the easiest route to re-establishing her citizenship of France as a married person.

Not sure if this is helpful to you but it is what we’ve found.


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You notify your commune de naissance so your marriage can be recorded, it will appear on the birth certificate which is updated with things like marriage/divorce/pacs throughout your life, her name however will legally always be her maiden name, if she takes your name it is a nom d’usage and will appear as such on her carte d’identité if she chooses to put it there.

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Seems reasonable to me… if the country of birth has not been notified of a marriage… then the person is indeed still single in the eyes of the bureaucracy of said country…and I would think that applies to any country you care to name…:wink:

I have a photocopy of my French grandmother’s birth entry page…makes fascinating reading…goes into so much detail of place, time, witnesses etc… (long rambling descriptions) …that I can almost imagine the scene at the Mairie.

But, there is no annotation to say she subsequently married (UK 1915)… or indeed that she died (UK 1962). Bearing in mind she was born in 1894…somewhere in the scheme of things… someone may well presume she is actually dead by now… but none of that is noted down here in France… :grinning:

Hmm - my wife has renewed her French passport not too long ago, and our married name is on it so I guess our marriage is registered here in France??

If she isn’t sure, the easiest way to check is to ask for a copy of her birth certificate (it is free) she can see exactly what has been added.

Hi Phillip, all marriages officially registered in France, including those which actually took place abroad and which have been subsequently registered, result in the couple being given a “livret de famille” and a copy of their marriage registration certificate. This last document is required when you put in a request for French nationality. And of course, it won’t surprise you to learn that in order to get the registration itself processed, they will insist on recent copies of your UK marriage and birth certificates, together with french translations.

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I followed Mélenchon’s campaign but didn’t notice any xenophobia in anything he said. What I did see was rejection of systems that he considers detrimental to civil society. I’ve searched for any reference that would justify your comment but can’t find one. Could you give a link please?

We had to get a ‘Livret de Famille’ before we moved to California, in order to have the kids officially recognised as French. My husband is French though born in the UK to a French mother, and we married in Scotland. The French Consulate in Edinburgh were responsible for registering our marriage in Nantes, and we had to send all relevant docs to the consulate in Edinburgh. The advantage of dealing with the consulate is considerable, as odd cases like us are the norm for them. All French documents concerning births & marriages taking place outside France are centralised in Nantes. You’ll probably need to register your marriage with Nantes, via the consulate, in order to apply for French nationality. (in London perhaps.) They accepted our docs in English.

I’m not sure if anyone is still following this thread, but I have another question. My husband was) born in the UK, to a French mother. He was registered at the consulate in London. When we married he had not asked for his ‘Certificat de Nationalité Francaise’, but subsequently asked for it just before the birth of our son. I was up to my eyes in all the papers concerning ante/post natal care, and did not ask for French nationality at the time. So, was he French at the time of our marriage in 1991, or not until the date of his ‘certificat’ in 1994? (It changes the procedure, considerably.) And who should I ask about it? If anyone has any leads, I’d be grateful.

If he is French par ascendant he has always been French, the certificate just confirms it.
When I lived in GB and wanted to renew my passport, the consulate in Randolph Crescent wanted a c de n f from me first which turned out to be a prob because although I was registered in Nantes, so were all my direct ancestors up to gt gt grandparents (place of birth, me: Scotland, my mother: Vietnam, my grandfather China, my gt grandfather Algeria) so they just told me to forget it until I was actually living in France and go via the mairie, which is what I did and it went like clockwork. And in the meantime I could just use my British passport.

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Thank you Véronique. I thought that would be the case, but found the documentation unclear on that point. My husband’s French family is complicated too. His mother was born in the Sarre, which is now part of Germany. I just wish I had applied back in 94. There was no language test then! I never dreamt the Uk would leave the EU. Sigh!

Nothing happens … so, why worry?

French voters aren’t as dumb as some would like to think, but they can be quirky. They don’t necessarily always vote "for politicians " - but they do like to vote “against politicians” when they can’t vote for a preferred choice.

And Marine serves that purpose remarkably well. As did her father, btw …

OK, if you can afford it.

I had early problems in Herault. A letter to the President seemed to solve all problems.

I think I’m finally going to bite the bullet and find the time to fill out the enormous paperwork mountain for nationality - at least that’s worth something and will be final (unlike a carte de séjour!) :wink: