French Citizenship By Birth

Children born in France to foreign parents may obtain French citizenship by birth provided they meet the relevant eligibility requirements. Such requirements will vary depending on the applicant’s age as well as their circumstances.

For more information about French citizenship by birth, whether you are eligible as a Canadian national, how you can apply, and to receive bespoke advice from a team of immigration lawyers, reach out to our legal team today on +1 844 290 6312.

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    France Citizenship by Birth: An Introduction

    The historical ties between France and Canada and the fact that there are many Canadians who share French heritage (approx. 23% of the Canadian population are native French speakers) have been significant factors, among others, behind Canadian nationals immigrating to France and eventually seeking to obtain French citizenship.

    A citizenship in France comes with many benefits, such as:

    • Freedom to live, work, study or do business in the country as well as in any of the EU Member States
    • Free entry into, and exit from, France
    • Freedom of movement within the EU
    • Access to high-standard public services, e.g. healthcare and education, as well as social benefits where applicable
    • Right to vote and take part in elections in France or hold a public office
    • Obtaining a French passport
    • French diplomatic protection while traveling abroad
    • A sense of belonging to the French historical and cultural legacy by becoming integrated into French society

    There are many pathways to become a French citizen, such as by birth, adoption, descent, marriage, or naturalization. Foreign nationals may obtain French citizenship through attribution by birth in France (“jus soli” or right of soil) in certain circumstances.

    We will be discussing in detail how Canadian nationals may obtain French citizenship through this route, and also touch upon the alternative routes to French citizenship in case you do not meet the criteria for the “jus soli” route.

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    Am I Eligible to Apply for French Citizenship by Birth?

    Although, in principle, the French citizenship by birth has the element of “right of soil” integrated into it, children born in France or any of its overseas territories do not automatically become French citizens, unless:

    • At least one of their parents is a French national or born in France even if they are not a French citizen
    • At least one parent was born in Algeria before July 3, 1962 and the child was born in France after January 1, 1963
    • At least one parent was born in a former French overseas territory prior to independence while the child was born in France before January 1, 1994
    • They are born stateless because their parents are unknown, or have no legal nationality themselves, or they come from a country where citizenship can be obtained only if you are born there

    So, if you are born in France to Canadian national parents, you will not obtain French nationality automatically. Only after a certain age and if you fulfil the relevant criteria, can you claim French citizenship by birth. Till then, you will assume your parents’ nationality, i.e. Canadian nationality in this context.

    In the following sections, we will explore the conditions that children born in France of foreign parents must fulfil depending on their age at the time of citizenship application.

    Eligibility Conditions for Children Aged 13-15

    A child aged 13-15, who was born in France to foreign national parents, can apply to become a French citizen if:

    • They have resided in France continuously since the age of eight
    • They are residing in France at the time of their citizenship application
    • They consent to become a French national and have the mental and physical capacity to do so

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      Eligibility Conditions for Children Aged 16-17

      A child aged 16-17, who was born in France to foreign national parents, can apply to become a French citizen if:

      • They have resided in France continuously for a period of at least five years since the age of 11
      • They are residing in France at the time of their citizenship application
      • They consent to become a French national and have the mental and physical capacity to do so

      Eligibility Conditions for Adults (18 Years or Over)

      Foreign nationals aged 18 years or more will automatically become French citizens if:

      • They have had their habitual residence in France for a period of at least five years, with or without interruption, since the age of 11
      • They have been residing in France when they have turned 18
      • Their parents are not foreign diplomats or consular staff

      What Documents Do I Need to Apply for French Citizenship by Birth?

      You will be required to submit the below documents to apply for French citizenship by birth:

      • Two copies of a declaration of French nationality, mentioning the name, surname, date of birth and place of birth of the child (and their representative, if applicable), signed and dated by parent(s) or a legal guardian/representative on behalf of the child if aged between 13-15 years, or by the applicant themselves if aged 16-17
      • Birth certificate
      • An identity document, e.g. passport or residence permit
      • Recent photos
      • Residence permit or any other ID for their foreign national parents
      • Proof that the child lives in France on the date of the declaration
      • Proof that the child has lived in France for the mandatory period as per their age group
      • Proof that the legal representative of the child has parental authority, e.g. birth certificate or adoption certificate
      • A medical certificate confirming the child’s physical and mental capacity to voluntarily ask for citizenship
      • If the applicant child has children of their own residing with them, birth certificates and added proof (e.g. documents proving the parentage of the children etc.) must be submitted

      Please note that all supporting documents must be in French. In case they are not, certified translated copies prepared by a registered translator must be provided. All documents must be submitted in original.

      For applicants aged 18 or above, they will automatically become French citizens if they meet the specific criteria per their age group, and no citizenship application will be required. However, they will have to apply for a certificate of French nationality after turning 18, for which they must present evidence of residing in France regularly for a period of five years from the age of 11.

      How Do I Apply for French Citizenship by Birth?

      The documents will have to be submitted, either by the parent(s)/legal guardian of the child (if aged 13-15) or by the applicant themselves, at the local judicial court of the area where the child resides in France. The applicant will be given a receipt after submitting their documents.

      After reviewing their application, the judicial authorities will schedule an interview with the child and their parents to verify whether the child has given their consent.

      The authorities may take up to six months to register the declaration or refuse the application. If you do not receive any response within six months from your receipt date, it means that the declaration of French nationality has been accepted and recorded. You will duly receive a copy of the declaration along with the registration details.

      However, please note that the public prosecutor’s office may contest the registration of the declaration of nationality within a period of two years, if they have discovered retrospectively that you do not meet the legal conditions for French citizenship or have provided false information on your application.

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        What If My Application Has Been Refused?

        If the judicial authorities refuse your application for obtaining French citizenship by birth, they will notify you of the refusal and the reason(s) thereof in writing.

        You can appeal the refusal decision within six months from receiving the refusal letter. You may appeal to the Ministry of the Interior within two months, or to the administrative courts of appeal after two months for a final review.

        Please also note that the authorities may postpone your citizenship application instead of accepting or refusing it straightaway, if they have reason(s) to believe that your application would not be appropriate at that time. They will inform you of the reasons in writing and mention a deadline for submitting a revised application.

        Other Routes to Obtain French Citizenship

        If you do not meet the eligibility criteria to become a French citizen by birth, there are other legal ways available to become a French citizen, such as by marriage, descent, adoption or naturalization.

        If you are a Canadian national married to your French spouse for at least four years, and you have resided in France for at least three years since your wedding with at least one year of continuous residency, you may apply for French citizenship through the marriage route.

        If you were adopted in France, you may apply for French citizenship if your adoption was finalized before you turned 16.

        On the other hand, if you were born outside France but have at least one parent who is a French citizen, you may apply for French citizenship by descent, also known as French citizenship by filiation or ancestry.

        Please note that in this case, you must have been born out of an institutionalized marriage or recognized by your French citizen parent.

        Last but not the least, there is the naturalization route to French citizenship. If you are 18 or more and have lived in France for at least five years on a valid residence permit, you may apply for French citizenship by naturalization.

        You will have to have sufficient knowledge of the French language and culture, and must not have a criminal record or be under a criminal investigation at the time of filing your application.

        How Can Total Law Help?

        Obtaining French citizenship by birth is a complex process and one that requires patience. Even if you meet the eligibility criteria, it is of utmost importance to fill up the relevant forms correctly and completely as well as submit all required documentation. Moreover, if your application is refused, you will have to take legal help to go through the appeal procedure.

        Total Law can help. Our team of expert and experienced lawyers can assist you, regardless of your immigration circumstances or the complexity of your case.

        If you are seeking overall advice with your French citizenship application or you would like an immigration expert to complete your application on your behalf, we are here for you. We also offer document and application checking services if you just need a final check to confirm that your documents and application adhere to French citizenship laws

        To know more about the services we provide and how we can help you, please call us on +1 844 290 6312 today to speak to our team of legal advisers.

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                  Related pages for your continued reading.

                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  France does not have a Golden Visa Program unlike Spain or Portugal or any other citizenship by investment program. However, you may obtain a French Tech Visa for investors and then a residence permit valid for four years (renewable thereafter). You will also be able to bring your eligible family members to France via this route.

                  Yes. Since both France and Canada allow dual citizenship, a Canadian national will be able to keep their Canadian citizenship even after obtaining citizenship in France.