France Citizenship Routes

US citizens can follow many routes if they want to obtain French citizenship. However, they must meet the eligibility requirements of such a route.

For more information on French citizenship, including details about eligibility, documents required and the application process, contact us at Total Law by calling +1 844 290 6312 or sending us a message online. We are an immigration law firm that can guide you through obtaining French citizenship.

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    French Citizenship Routes

    There are four major ways to obtain French citizenship: by birth in France, naturalization, declaration of nationality and regaining of citizenship.

    If you choose to get citizenship by declaration, you must prove that you are related or married to a French national.

    Obtaining French citizenship by naturalization is usually based on how long you have been in France.

    You can also choose to regain your French nationality if you lost it.

    Below are the various routes you can use to apply for French citizenship:

    French Citizenship by Descent or Birth in France

    If you were born in France, and one or both of your parents are French, you are automatically a French citizen.

    French Citizenship by Adoption

    If a French parent adopted you before you turned 18, then you are a French citizen.

    France Citizenship by Marriage

    US nationals who get married to French citizens are eligible to apply for French nationality after 4 years of marriage. Note that you still need to be married to the French national for this route to be valid.

    You can also apply for citizenship via this route if they have been cohabiting with a French national for at least 5 years.


    If you have lived in France for 5 years, you can apply for naturalization in France. Note that French citizenship for students is not available. You can only naturalize if you have been in France on another permit aside from the study permit.

    French Citizenship by Declaration

    You can follow this route if you were born in France to foreign nationals. Application by declaration can be made when you are 17, so you can get your French citizenship once you turn 18.

    French Citizenship by Ascendancy

    Parents, grandparents and great-grandparents of a French citizen can also apply for French nationality if they are at least 65.

    Regaining Citizenship

    If, for whatever reason, you lost or relinquished your French citizenship, it is still possible to regain it.

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      Eligibility Requirements For French Citizenship

      The requirements you need to meet when applying for French citizenship depend on the route you are applying through.

      Below are the French citizenship requirements for each route:

      Citizenship by Birth

      • One or both parents must be French
      • Must have been born in France

      By Adoption

      • One or both parents must be French
      • The adoption must have happened on French soil
      • The adoption must have occurred before you turned 18

      By Marriage

      • You must have been married to the French national for 4 years or cohabiting with them for 5 years.
      • Your marriage must still be ongoing. You cannot apply for citizenship if you have broken up or divorced the French national, even if you spent more than 4 years with them.
      • You must have been living in France for at least 3 consecutive years since you started the marriage or cohabitation with the French citizen.
      • You must prove your partner is on the list of French citizens living outside France. This criterion applies if you and your French spouse have not been living in France since the inception of your marriage.
      • You must prove that your marriage is recorded in the civil status register of France. This rule is essential if your wedding took place outside of France.
      • You must show you can understand and speak French up to B1 level.
      • When applying for French citizenship, you must have a residence permit, preferably a spouse visa.
      • You must prove you have not been convicted of any criminal offense in France.

      By Naturalization

      • You must be at least 18 years old before applying
      • You must be living in France at the time of applying
      • You must have lived in France for at least 5 years
      • You must have a valid residence permit authorizing you to stay in France
      • You must show that you have become part and parcel of French society and know French history
      • You will be required to show you have an adequate knowledge of French, up to B1 level
      • You have to show you have enough money to cater for yourself and your family, if applicable
      • You must have lived in France with your family for at least 5 years

      By Declaration

      • You must be at least 18 to apply via this route
      • You must be living in France when applying via this route
      • You have spent 2 years consecutively in France and have rendered exceptional services to the country in science, economics and sports
      • You must have a valid residence permit
      • You must have adequate knowledge about the French people and culture
      • You must show you have adequate knowledge of French up to B1 level
      • You must show you have a stable and adequate source of income to fend for yourself (and your family, if applicable) while you live in France
      • You must not have been convicted of any criminal or terrorist offense

      By Ascendancy

      • You must be 65 or older
      • You must have a direct descendant who is a French citizen. They could be your child, grandchild or great-grandchild
      • You must have been living in France for at least 25 years
      • You must not have been convicted of any criminal offense nor spent up to 6 months in prison
      • You must not have, at any time, been barred from entering or living in France
      • You must not have been part of any movement against the state of France

      Documents Required For The French Citizenship Application

      Below are the general documents you must present when applying for French citizenship:

      Birth Certificate

      You’ll need to present a copy of your certificate of birth. Note that your document must be in French. If it is in a foreign language, you must translate and legalize it. Your birth certificate must show your name, your parent’s name and your place of birth.

      If you are applying for citizenship by descent or accent, you’ll have to provide the birth certificates of your parents or offspring, as the case may be.

      Criminal Record Certificate

      When applying for French citizenship, you must prove that you have never been convicted of any criminal offense by submitting a criminal record certificate. You must get this document from the US and any other country where you have spent 3 months in the past 5 years.

      Marriage Certificate

      If you want to apply for citizenship via marriage, you must include your marriage certificate. If you are cohabiting with a French national, you must present evidence showing you two sharing bills. Note that if you change your name due to marriage, you must add a document proving the change of name.

      Valid Residence Permit

      If you are applying for French citizenship, you must prove you have been a legal occupant. You typically prove this by submitting your residence permit. You can also submit a rental agreement which shows your address in France.

      Valid Passport

      Another document you need to present when applying for citizenship is your passport. Your valid passport shows your nationality and identity.

      Bank Statement

      You must show the French authorities that you have enough money to care for yourself and your family.

      Proof of Immersion into French Culture

      You must show sufficient knowledge of French law, culture, history and people.

      Language Proficiency

      Before you are awarded French nationality, the authorities want to be sure you can speak and understand French adequately. You are required to have a B1 proficiency.

      This requirement is waived for you if:

      • You studied the French language in a French-speaking country
      • You are at least 70 and have lived in the country for at least 15 years
      • You are not healthy enough to take the French language proficiency test

      Receipt of Application Fees

      You must show that you have paid the application fee required for obtaining citizenship, which is €55.

      Proof of Exceptional Service to France

      If you served in the French military or were instrumental in developing the sports or economy of France, you can present evidence of such proof.

      Note that you will send the original and copies of documents that prove your civil status.
      You must also submit them in English and the translated copies.

      Every document you submit must be translated into French and be legalized.

      French Citizenship Application Process

      There are 2 ways to apply for French citizenship: online or by post. You can only use the post option if you cannot submit your application online.

      When submitting by post, you must get a document from the prefecture or sub-prefecture or an email from the ANTS (National Agency for Secure Securities) citizens’ contact center confirming that it is impossible to apply online.


      To make your application online via the teleservice, follow the steps below:

      Step 1: Download and complete 2 copies of the application form (Cerfa form n°12753). You must date and sign the document. The form can be obtained from the website of the Ministry of Interior.

      Step 2: Pay the application fee of €55 and get a receipt.

      Step 3: Gather your supporting documents, including the translations.

      Step 4: Schedule an interview after sending your documents online using the teleservice.

      Step 5: Attend your interview. Ensure you follow the guide in the citizen’s booklet. Go to the interview with your original documents.

      By Post

      Step 1: Download and complete 2 copies of the application form (Cerfa form n°12753). You must date and sign the document.

      Step 2: Pay the application fee of €55 and get a receipt.

      Step 3: Gather your documents.
      Step 4: Contact the prefecture close to you to submit your documents and schedule an interview.

      You will sign the French Citizens’ Charter of Rights and Duties once you are done.

      You will also be given a receipt.


      If you are outside France, you must follow the steps listed above. However, your application will be submitted to the French Embassy in the country you’re in. They will, in turn, move your application to the Ministry of Internal.

      If any information changes after you submit your application, you have to notify the French authorities through the online portal.

      If you applied by post, you have to contact the department that confirmed the receipt of the application.

      Tracking Your Application

      If you want to know how to track your application, you can follow the process online. Also, be available to reply to any question or submit any additional document the French government will ask of you. You will keep getting email notifications on the status of your application from time to time.

      Even if you do not get an email, checking the application portal periodically is often advisable. This is so that you can be aware when the administration notifies you of an error in your document or application.

      There is no way to track the application made by post. However, you should know that the maximum processing time is 18 months. So, expect to get a response within that time frame.

      If you have been a resident of France for a minimum of 10 years from the date of application, the wait time is reduced to 12 months.

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        If The Application is Successful: Next Steps

        The administration will inform you by email if your application is successful. You will also be notified that you have been registered in the naturalization decree. This decree will be published in the French Official Journal.

        You will get this notification by post if you did not add your email address when applying by post.

        Upon getting the notification, you must download the naturalization decree from the website of Legifrance.

        The naturalization decree comes into effect on the date signed.

        If you have unmarried children younger than 18, by this decree, they are automatically French. However, this can only be possible if you mention their names when making the application.

        Your unmarried children are considered minor if they are yet to turn 18 at the date on the decree.

        After the naturalization decree, you can apply for a French passport and national ID card.

        You can also obtain national ID cards and passports for your children at the same time.

        If you obtain citizenship between 16 and 25, you must register your new nationality one month after acquiring it.

        If The Citizenship Application Is Rejected

        There are usually two reasons why the administration will deny your citizenship application:

        It could be that your application was inadmissible, meaning that you do not meet the requirements for a citizenship application. This is why presenting every document proving you meet the eligibility criteria is necessary.

        Secondly, it could be that your application was inappropriate, meaning that you cannot apply for French citizenship, or at least not yet.

        You can appeal the decision if you get an unfavorable response after applying for French nationality. Upon a successful appeal, you will be granted citizenship.

        At Total Law, we have a team of experienced lawyers who are experts in French immigration and citizenship rules. You can contact us so we can access your case and see if you need to appeal the decision.

        After careful evaluation, we see that you have a case; we will represent you in France and plead your case, ensuring that you get what you applied for. Call us on the phone at +1 844 290 6312 or message us online today.

        How Can Total Law Help?

        Unsurprisingly, many people shy away from applying for French citizenship even when they are eligible for it. This reluctance is usually because the process is complex and it involves many routes and requirements.

        Some others shy away from applying because of the paperwork involved in the application process. But you have nothing to fear. At Total Law, we are committed to helping you naturalize in France if you meet the eligibility criteria.

        Our expert caseworkers can access your case and know how to guide you when making the application. We can tell you the documents you need, the fees involved and the steps to creating an impeccable application. We can also apply for citizenship on your behalf, easing the burden off your shoulders.

        In case of an application refusal, we are always ready to support and appeal your case.
        Do you want to know more about our services and how we can make your French dreams come true? Get in touch with us by calling +1 844 290 6312 or send us a message online today.

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                  Related pages for your continued reading.

                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  Getting French citizenship by marriage will take you at least 4 years. You will need to meet other criteria for you to apply.

                  You will not lose your US citizenship if you become a citizen of France. The US and France allow their citizens to hold multiple citizenships.

                  Knowledge of the French language is required to become a citizen. You have to prove that you have been fully integrated into French life, and one of the ways to show your integration is by understanding the French language up to the B1 level. You can prove it by showing the result of your French proficiency exams. You can also meet this if you studied in a French school for at least 2 years.

                  You are not considered a citizen just because you live in France. People who live in France are called residents. To become a citizen, you must meet requirements other than being resident in France.

                  The Netherlands does not allow dual citizenship with France. If you get French citizenship, you must forfeit your Dutch nationality.