French Citizenship

France is a popular destination for many Canadians looking to settle in Europe. The shared history between France and Canada means that there are strong ties between the two countries.

Additionally, upon becoming a French national, successful applicants gain access to living, working, and studying in the rest of the European Union. If you are a Canadian looking to obtain French citizenship, you have two main options: declaration of nationality and naturalization.

The process to obtain French nationality is often complicated, however, with numerous eligibility criteria to navigate. Contact Total Law today on +1 844 290 6312 to learn more about how we can help you with your own citizenship journey.

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    How Can Canadian Citizens Obtain French Citizenship? Overview

    There are two main routes if you wish to obtain French citizenship: declaration of nationality and naturalization. If you gain French citizenship through naturalization, you will generally need to live in France for at least 5 years beforehand.

    As both France and Canada allow dual citizenship, obtaining French citizenship through naturalization is an option which many Canadian nationals choose to pursue.

    However, the route to French citizenship which is best suited to your specific situation will depend on a range of factors, including whether you were born in France or abroad, if you have previously held French citizenship, and if you have been a foreign national since you were born. The specifics of each of the different routes are outlined in this article.

    However, regardless of which route is best for you, there are general eligibility criteria which you will usually need to satisfy.

    For example, you must generally demonstrate sufficient proficiency in the French language, show that you have the ability to support yourself whilst in France, and prove that you have a clean criminal record. You will also generally need to demonstrate that you have assimilated into French society.

    In order to demonstrate this, you will need to both agree with France’s Republican principles and to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of French culture. If you are applying for citizenship through naturalization, you will generally need to already be residing in France at the time of your application.

    Note that, once you have successfully obtained French nationality, you will no longer require a residence permit in order to live in France. French nationals are free to live, work, and study in the country at their own discretion.

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      Eligibility Criteria of Applying For French Citizenship: Born Abroad

      If you were not born in France, there are specific routes to citizenship which you will likely need to use. In particular, there are different routes to acquiring French citizenship depending on if you have held foreign citizenship since you were born or if you have held French citizenship in the past. Even if you were not born in France, French citizenship through either declaration or naturalization may still be an option. The details of each of these different routes are as follows:

      Foreign National Since Birth 

      One of these routes is likely to be the best match for most Canadian citizens. If you have had Canadian citizenship since birth, there are a number of routes for you to obtain French citizenship. For many of these routes, it will be necessary for the applicant to already be living in France.

      If you do currently reside in France, you may be able to become French through declaration in the following circumstances:

      • You are married to a French spouse
      • You have a child or grandchild who is French
      • You have a brother or sister who is French
      • You were adopted by a French citizen

      If you currently live in France but do not satisfy one of the above criteria, you may still be able to get French citizenship through French naturalization. French naturalization may be an option for you if one of the following conditions applies to you:

      • You have legally and consistently lived in France for at least 5 years
      • You are a refugee
      • You are from a country which speaks French and French is your first language
      • You are from a Francophone country and have spent at least 5 years enrolled in a French speaking educational institution
      • You have completed military service with the French military
      • During wartime, you joined the French army or an army which is an ally of France
      • You have rendered exceptional services to France
      • You have a diploma from a French university at which you were enrolled for at least 2 years
      • You have successfully completed an ‘exceptional integration path’, for example completing actions or activities in an area of French culture, science, economy, or sports

      In exceptional circumstances, it may also be possible to obtain French citizenship through naturalization in the following circumstances:

      • If you were injured when serving with the French army. In this case, citizenship may be proposed by the French Minister of Defence
      • If you are from a Francophone country and are contributing through your distinguished action (e.g. in the area of sports, the economy, etc.) to the influence of France and its international economic relations. In this case, citizenship may be proposed by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs

      If none of the above situations apply to you but you think you may still be eligible for French citizenship, you can contact your local naturalization platform.

      You Have Previously Had French Citizenship 

      If you have previously held French citizenship, you may be able to regain it if one of the following circumstances apply:

      • You lost your French citizenship through marrying a non-French partner
      • You lost your French citizenship because the nationality of your parents(s) changed
      • You practiced particular public mandates

      In order to regain French citizenship, you must also satisfy a number of other conditions, such as signing a reintegration decree. You must also generally reside in France, although there are a number of exceptions to this, such as if you are living abroad in order to carry out public or private activity on behalf of the French State, you are enrolled in the French army, or you are a national service volunteer.

      Eligibility Criteria of Applying For French Citizenship: Born In France

      If you were born in France to French parents, you are automatically granted French citizenship. If you have a French parent, you are also entitled to French citizenship.

      If you were born in France but do not have French parents, you are still entitled to French citizenship by declaration. You can become a French citizen by making a statement in court. The process for doing so varies depending on your age.

      If your child is under 16 and you wish for them to obtain French citizenship, you will need to apply on their behalf, and they will need to confirm that they have agreed to obtaining French nationality. This latter requirement does not apply in certain circumstances, however, for example if your child has a disability which prevents them from giving their agreement.

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        How to Apply For French Citizenship: Step By Step Process

        The specific method for applying for French citizenship will vary depending on the particular route which you are taking. Generally, however, the steps will be as follows:

        Declaration of Nationality 

        If you are obtaining French citizenship through declaration and you live in France, you will need to contact your local naturalization platform. You will need to send them your French nationality declaration file, either in person or by post, depending on the rules of your specific local platform.

        If you live abroad, you will need to contact your local French embassy or consulate. In Canada, there are consular services available in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Vancouver, Moncton and Halifax.

        Afterwards, you will need to attend an interview, in which your eligibility for French citizenship will be assessed. You can use the ‘citizen’s book’ to prepare for this interview. If it is judged during your interview that you have not successfully assimilated into French life, your application is likely to be refused.

        Your ability to speak the French language will not be assessed during this interview. However, you will need to provide evidence that you have passed an accepted French language test.

        Once you have completed the interview, you will be issued with a receipt.

        Finally, a decision will be made on your case. If your application is successful, you will be issued with a declaration of French nationality. You can then use this document to apply for a national identity card and for a French passport.

        Naturalization 

        If you are applying for French citizenship through naturalization, you can generally submit your application online on the French government website. You will submit your application to the online service of the Ministry of the Interior.

        You will then be called to attend an interview, in which how well you have assimilated into French society will be assessed. You can use the ‘citizen’s book’ to prepare for this interview.

        Once you have finished the interview, you will need to sign the ‘charter of rights and duties of French citizens’.

        If your application is successful, you will need to sign the Naturalization Decree. Once you have signed it, the decree will take effect and you will officially be a naturalized French citizen.  You will now be eligible to apply for a French passport.

        What Documents Will I Require?

        The specific documents which you will require for your application will depend on the particular route to citizenship which you are using. Generally, however, you will require a range of the following documents:

        • Cerfa form
        • 2 recent passport photos, to the French specifications
        • Electronic tax stamp
        • Copy of you ID
        • The travel document which you used to enter France (if you were not already residing in France at the time of your application)
        • Proof of income
        • Original copy of your birth certificate
        • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
        • Birth certificate(s) of your child(ren) (if applicable)
        • Birth certificate(s) of your brother(s) or sister(s) (if applicable)
        • Birth certificate of your relevant French family member (if applicable)
        • Evidence of your residence in France (if applicable)
        • Evidence of your habitual residence in France (if applicable). Note that you can provide a range of documents in order to cover a longer time period, e.g. school certificates, employment contracts, etc.
        • A copy of your criminal record
        • You may also request the ‘francization’ of your surname in order to demonstrate your integration into French life, in which case you should provide evidence that you have completed this process

        Each of the documents which you provide must also include a French translation. You should make sure to choose a translator which has been authorized by the French authorities.

        Citizenship Application Rejected: What To Do

        If your application is unsuccessful, it is likely to be either due to your failure to provide the right documents or because it is judged that you have sufficiently assimilated into French society.

        If this happens, you have 2 months in which to appeal this decision. Your case will be referred to the Council of State.

        Under French law, hiring a lawyer is compulsory if you wish to appeal the decision on your case. Contact Total Law today on +1 844 290 6312 to learn more about how we can help you with a range of services, including appealing a decision.

        How Long Does The Application Take?

        The exact amount of time which the application takes will depend on a range of factors, including the number of other applications which the French authorities are processing and whether or not you provide all of the required documents in a timely manner.

        However, generally speaking, an application for French citizenship can take up to 2 years to process. This is in addition to the 5 years of residence in France which will generally be necessary if you are applying for citizenship through naturalization.

        In order to ensure that your application proceeds as quickly as possible, you should make sure to have all of the necessary documents when you start your application.

        How Much Will The Application Cost?

        There is generally a €55 fee for applying for French citizenship, across application types.

        In some cases, you may also need to pay for French translations of the required documents, and this can increase the cost significantly. The exact cost will depend on the particular translator which you choose and how many documents you need to get translated.

        You may also choose to pay for legal assistance in order to help with your application.

        Total Law’s Team Can Help You Obtain French Citizenship

        France is a common destination for an increasing number of Canadians. It offers a rich culture, numerous areas of natural beauty, and easy access to the rest of the EU. It also has strong language and cultural ties with certain regions of Canada. If you settle in France, you will have easy access to the numerous benefits which the country has to offer, and to the growing Canadian community.

        However, the specific route to French citizenship varies significantly depending on your particular circumstances. As such, the application process can be extremely confusing. In order to simplify the process, many Canadian applicants choose to obtain legal assistance in order to help with their application. At Total Law, our immigration experts have considerable experience in providing bespoke legal advice on cases exactly like this. Contact Total Law today on +1 844 290 6312 to learn more about how we can help you with every stage of your application.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  If you have a criminal record, your application for French citizenship is significantly less likely to be accepted. A clean criminal record is one of the documents which you will be expected to provide as part of your application.

                  As both France and Canada allow dual citizenship, you will not need to give up your Canadian passport in order to become a French citizen. However, a number of countries do not allow their citizens to have dual nationality, in which case you would be required to relinquish your current citizenship.

                  The specific requirements which apply to you will depend on the country of which you are currently a national. It may be that your home country does not allow dual nationality, in which case you would be required to give up your current passport.

                  French law does indeed allow you to pass on French citizenship to your children. You can pass this on via French citizenship by descent. This is true even if your child was not born in France, or if only one of your child’s parents is French.

                  French citizens have the right to live, work, and study in any member state of the European Union. Therefore, upon obtaining French citizenship, you will also gain these rights, and can choose to settle in any other country in the EU.

                  You do not need to reside in France in order to maintain your French citizenship. You may choose to reside in another member state of the EU, for example.

                  However, if you are applying for citizenship through naturalization, you will likely need to reside in France for at least 5 years before submitting your application. You will be expected to demonstrate that you have legally and consistently lived in France during this period.

                  Note that, if you have refugee status, returning to the country from which you fled could jeopardize your refugee status. This is because returning to that country indicates that you are no longer in need of refugee status.