French Citizenship By Descent

If you have a French parent, grandparent or a great-grandparent who was a French citizen at the time of your birth, you may be eligible to obtain French citizenship through your French ancestry.

To find out more about French citizenship by descent and check your eligibility, contact Total Law by calling +44 (0)333 305 9375 or chat with one of our immigration advisers online.

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    An Overview of The French Citizenship By Ancestry

    Obtaining citizenship by descent (le droit du sang) can help people connect with their heritage and benefit from a range of advantages.

    The French passport is the second most powerful passport in the world and its benefits include access to high-quality social services, healthcare, state social support, cheaper education costs than non-European Union students, and visa-free access to 190 countries.

    To apply for French citizenship by descent, you don’t need to prove French language proficiency. Additionally, if one or both your parents lose French nationality when you’re an adult it does not have any impact on your nationality.

    The process of obtaining French citizenship through your ancestry is relatively straightforward. However, it’s important to fill out the forms adequately, provide all the required supporting documents, and ensure you have all the necessary proof of your eligibility.

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    What Are the Eligibility Criteria for French Citizenship By Ancestry?

    To be eligible for French citizenship by descent applicant’s previous generations must be registered as citizens before the applicant can claim their citizenship by descent.

    If the applicant’s French parent(s) are not registered citizens, they must obtain their citizenship before the applicant child petitions for their French citizenship.

    When applying for French citizenship by descent, applicants are required to demonstrate the following:

    • At least one of the applicant’s parents, grandparents or great-grandparents was a French citizen at the time of the applicant’s birth. Applicants must verify their own and their parent(s) identities with adequate documents.
    • If the applicant was born to unmarried parents, the parent must recognise the applicant’s birth and accept the parentage.
    • The parent(s) must have connections to France through, for example, passport renewals or voter registrations.
    • The applicant must prove that they have no convictions for serious crime or any activities harmful to the country of France

    Children born in France to non-French citizens obtain French nationality at the age of 18 if the family was living in France at the time of the child’s birth and if the child was a resident and continued to live in France for at least 5 years from the age of 11.

    If these eligibility criteria are met, children can demand French citizenship at the age of 16.

    Applicants adopted as minors by French citizens automatically take on their parent(s) French nationality.

    Required Documents for French Citizenship By Descent Application

    To prove your eligibility for the French citizenship, you must provide the following supporting documents:

    • Valid passport or other document proving your identity, for example, a residence permit
    • The French parent’s birth certificate
    • Your birth certificate showing your relationship to the French parent
    • Marriage certificate of the parents (if they are married) or a certificate of parentage
    • Proof of the French parent’s citizenship – Certificate of French nationality (CNF)
    • Evidence of the French parent’s residency
    • Proof of applicant’s residence – for example, utility bills
    • If you were born to unmarried parents – documents showing the recognition and parentage from the French parent
    • Adoption certificate, if you were adopted

    If you are still determining what documents you should submit with your request for French citizenship through ancestry, contact Total Law. We can help you gather the required documents for your application to ensure the highest chance of citizenship approval.

    For more information on what you need to do to apply, call Total Law at +44 (0)333 305 9375 or contact us online.

    Application Process for French Citizenship by Descent

    Before applying for French citizenship, you have to ensure that you meet the required eligibility criteria.

    You should do research and gather adequate documentation to support your petition and prove your eligibility. You must have documents that show that at least one of your parents was a French citizen at the time of your birth.

    If you are eligible and have the required documents to support your claim, you can apply for a CNF (Certificat de Nationalité Française).

    This is a document proving your French citizenship. You can apply for the CNF yourself if you’re 16 or older. If you’re under the age of 16, your legal representatives must apply for you.

    To apply for the CNF, you must contact the Court of Justice of Paris which will direct you to the Department of Nationality for French People Born and Established Outside of France.

    If you’re in France or you were born on French territory, you can send your forms along with the required documents attached through post or submit it in person to the Judicial Tribunal nearest to where you reside.

    If your application is approved, a ceremony will be scheduled and you will take an oath of loyalty to France.

    You will be invited to attend the ceremony after which you will officially become a French citizen. You will then be able to request a French passport, ID card and receive the same rights as other French citizens.

    Costs and Processing Time of the Application for French Citizenship by Descent

    The request for the CNF is free of charge. The application process usually takes up to 6 months from submission. The decision on your claim may take longer if information or documents are missing. Therefore, the 6-month decision period may be extended up to 2 times, each for 6 months.

    No reply by the end of these time limits means the application was rejected. You will be notified about the decision by email. Remember that the exact processing time of your application depends on the country you’re applying from.

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      What Happens If My Application for French Citizenship by Descent Gets Rejected?

      As with any application, your request for French nationality may be rejected. If this happens, you can make an appeal dispute to the court of law of your domicile, or the Court of Justice of Paris if you’re abroad. If you decide to appeal, you have to do so within six months of the rejection.

      Please note that you must submit your appeal and your application for a certificate of French citizenship and the required supporting documents.

      What Are The Most Common Reasons for Rejections?

      The most common reasons for application rejections include:

      • Not enough proof of your ancestry – you must check your ancestry and eligibility before applying. You can carry out a personalised ancestry analysis to determine whether you have an ancestor from France before you apply for citizenship.
      • Missing or inadequate supporting documents, including lack of adequate translations – this is one of the most common reasons for French authorities to reject citizenship applications. You must ensure that you gather all the required supporting documents in the right order. You should make copies of original documents, in case they are required. This should be one of your first steps before you apply to ensure higher chances of your request for citizenship being successful.
      • Criminal convictions or engagement in activities that are harmful to France or violation of other rules related to immigration to your application – if you fail to disclose your criminal history or you state inaccurate information, your claim will result in rejection.
      • Incomplete form where mandatory fields are not filled – before submitting your form, double check that you have filled out all of the mandatory fields and completed, as missing information is another common reason for rejections

      Citizenship rejections may happen for several reasons. If you have received a rejection letter or are unsure of the reason you might want to reach out to an immigration lawyer for assistance with the next steps.

      Call Total Law advisers at +44 (0)333 305 9375 or contact us online to find out how to proceed with your claim after it has been rejected.

      Other Possible Routes to Obtain French Citizenship

      If you determine that you are not eligible to obtain French citizenship by descent, there are other ways through which you can apply for French citizenship. This includes ascendancy, marriage, naturalisation, birth and adoption.

      Apply for Citizenship by Ascendancy: Declaration of French Nationality of the Ascendant of a French National

      Another way to obtain French citizenship is through ascendancy. This route is for parents, grandparents and great-grandparents of a French citizen.

      If you are 65 years or older and have legally lived in France for at least 25 years, you can make a Declaration of French Nationality.

      Beside demonstrating that you have lived in France for the sufficient length of time, you need also to submit proof of your clear criminal record. You must not have been subject to an expulsion order or a prohibition of French territory and must prove that you have no criminal convictions.

      French Citizenship by Marriage

      One of the most common ways to apply for citizenship is marriage to a French citizen. To apply, you must demonstrate that you have been married to a French citizen for at least four years and have been living in France for at least three years since the marriage started.

      Apply for Citizenship by Naturalisation

      Applicants 18 or older who lived in France for at least five years with a valid residence permit, may be eligible for French citizenship by naturalisation. You can apply for French citizenship through this route if you:

      • Lived in France for at least five years with a valid residence permit
      • Have sufficient knowledge of the French language and culture – demonstrate integration into French society
      • Have a clear criminal record

      French Citizenship by Birth or Adoption

      Applicants born or adopted in France or to at least one French parent may be eligible for French citizenship by birth or adoption. This route is one of the easiest routes of obtaining French citizenship provided that you can demonstrate the required documents to prove your eligibility.

      When applying for citizenship by birth or adoption you have to prove the following:

      • You were born or adopted in France, or one of your parents is a French national
      • At least one of your parents has resided in France for at least 5 years
      • If you have been adopted, your adoption must have been finalised before you turned 16

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        How to Apply For French Citizenship by Other Routes?

        Once you determine your eligibility and the route you’d like to take to become a French citizen, you must gather the required documents to support your petition and submit it.

        Depending on the route you choose your claim can either be made online, by post or in person at the Judicial Tribunal nearest to where you reside in France, or the French Embassy or Consulate nearest to you in your country of residence.

        You will then be required to attend an interview and take the Integration, Residence and Nationality Test (TCF) after which your petition will be reviewed and a decision on your request will be made. The TCF is to demonstrate your sufficient integration into French society.

        Once your application is approved, you will be contacted about the date of your citizenship ceremony during which you will take an oath of allegiance to France.

        You will receive a Certificate of French Citizenship and you will be able to request a French passport and the ID card. The application for French citizenship costs €55. The processing time varies depending on the route you choose.

        How Can Total Law Help?

        Becoming a French citizen offers a variety of advantages and opportunities, attracting people from all around the world, however, the application process can be overwhelming and stressful.

        If you think you might be eligible to obtain French citizenship by descent or through other ways but need assistance with the process, contact Total Law. Our experienced and friendly team of immigration advisers have helped many applicants obtain the French citizenship by determining what documents should be submitted, assessing eligibility and assisting in case of application refusals.

        To receive more information about how we can help your case, call Total Law at +44 (0)333 305 9375 or contact us via online chat.

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                  Related pages for your continued reading.


                  Demonstrating knowledge of the French language is not a requirement for French citizenship by descent. However, it is beneficial to know the language on a communicative level when living in France.

                  With other routes, you are required to demonstrate written and oral proficiency in French at a minimum intermediate level (level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). If you have a French diploma at level 3 or above, you do not need to show a French language proficiency.

                  Yes. French law allows dual nationality, meaning you do not need to give up your original nationality to obtain French nationality.

                  Yes. Children born in France are automatically French nationals if their parents were born in France (even if they are not a citizen), one of the parents was born in Algeria before 3 July 1962, the parent(s) have no legal nationality (the child was born stateless).