French Citizenship By Birth

If a child is born in France to parents who are foreign nationals, they may be able to acquire French citizenship or even claim dual nationality with another country if certain criteria are met. If one or both of the child’s parents were born in France, they count as a French national automatically.

Whether you’re looking to go through the process to obtain French citizenship or just trying to understand if you or your child qualifies, Total Law can help. Give our North American team a call today on +1 844 290 6312 or send a message online.

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    An Overview of French Citizenship By Birth

    Not every nation allows individuals to qualify for citizenship as a birthright or through adoption, but France does, providing that certain criteria are met.

    There are several variables that allow for citizenship to be claimed, but the child must always be aged 18 or under before the application to request French nationality. Foreign parents of the child born in France must be out of the country, on a diplomatic mission, or be civil servants working abroad.

    In most cases, the parent/s will apply for French nationality on behalf of their child. This route to French citizenship is fairly simple compared to others and has set processes for application based on the age and circumstances of the applicant.

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      French Citizenship By Birth Eligibility Requirements

      There are several variations of eligibility for an individual to be able to obtain French citizenship. These are:

      • A child is born in France and both of their parents are foreign nationals
      • A child is born abroad and both of their parents are French nationals
      • A child is adopted in France and at least one adoptive parent is French

      In all instances, the child must be aged 18 or under before the application is made and their parents must be present in France for reasons other than a diplomatic mission or working as foreign civil servants.

      At least one parent must have been resident in France for at least a five-year period and usually the child will also need to have been. This time period is usually stipulated as needing to be continuous, but if the parent is working as a French civil servant overseas, exemptions may apply.

      All applicants must reside in France on the day of declaration; that is, on the day they formally obtain French nationality.

      Requirements for Supporting Documents to be Submitted

      To file an application to acquire French citizenship, supporting documents must be submitted to prove eligibility. French authorities reserve the right to request further documents during the application processing period, but as standard the following should be supplied:

      • 2 copies of a declaration of French nationality, dated and signed by the legal representative for the child (and the child if they are aged 18)
      • A valid birth certificate for the child
      • Birth certificates of the child’s biological or adoptive parents
      • A valid identity document for each French parent (usually a passport or valid residence permit)
      • A valid foreign identity document or residence permit for each foreign parent
      • Documents evidencing that the minor resides in France on the date the declaration of nationality has been signed
      • Documents evidencing the minor’s continued residency in France for at least five years
      • (In the case of adoption) Documents evidencing the parental authority over the child
      • (If the minor is already a parent) Birth certificates of the minor’s children
      • (If the minor is aged 13 or over and medically unable to express the will to become a French national) A medical certificate issued by a French government approved medical specialist certifying that their mental or bodily faculties currently prevent them from giving valid consent

      There are no application fees associated with an application for French citizenship as a result of birth, but indirect costs are likely to be incurred from the compilation and submission of documentation. These costs are the responsibility of the applicant.

      If documents are in anything other than the French language, they must have a translation attached. This must be an original translation provided by a translator officiated by the French courts. In the case of multilingual documents, no translation is required if they are partially in French. For any documents issued by a European Union state, a multilingual version can be supplied.

      The French authorities may request that some foreign documents must be legalised by an apostille to be accepted.

      How To Apply for France Citizenship By Birth

      To obtain French nationality by birthright or adoption, the following steps must be taken:

      Documents compiled

      All standard supporting documents must be compiled and where necessary, translations attached.

      Declaration signed

      The declaration form must be completed and signed by the legal representative for the applicant, as well as by the applicant themselves if they are aged 18.

      Application submitted

      Both the declaration and the supporting documentation are to be submitted through the applicant’s appropriate local office. Overseas, this will usually be the nearest Embassy of France or French Consulate. If already resident in France, this will be at a relevant local government office. The child does not always need to be present at the submission appointment, and any such requirement will be advised by the relevant immigration team.

      Attend declaration interview

      The child applicant and their legal representative will be required to attend an in-person interview at the local Embassy, Consulate or appropriate office. At this interview they will be expected to give their consent for becoming a French citizen. If the applicant is unable to give their consent, the legal representative may be expected to provide their consent via designated power of attorney.

      Receive decision

      The decision as to whether or not grant French nationality will be provided by post. In most cases, the applicant and their legal representative will receive a copy of the declaration with it being marked as ‘registered’.

      This is a positive decision and confirms French nationality has been granted. Such a confirmation should be received within a six-month period from application, however if no response is received in this time frame, the applicant can assume they have been successful as no timely contest has been made.

      French nationality can be assumed to be valid from either the date stipulated on the declaration of registration or from the date six months after submission.

      However, due to administrative delays, some applications may now take over six months to be processed. As a result, the public prosecutor’s office may challenge the registration of a declaration for up to two years from its submission, if they believe it to be subject to fraud or falsehood.

      If the application for French citizenship is declined, the applicant and their legal representative will be notified of the reason for refusal. This can be appealed up to six months from the date of notification, but doing so can be tricky and so specialist legal guidance is advised. Total Law can help with such appeals – give us a call to discuss your situation on +1 844 290 6312.

      Enlist our team for your French citizenship application and be assured of support, guidance and specialist knowledge. Contact Us

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        Other Routes To Obtain French Citizenship

        If for whatever reason an individual born in France or with a French parent doesn’t qualify for acquired French nationality, there are other routes through which they may obtain it if desired.

        Most commonly, this would be through qualification for French nationality through descent, where at least one of the parents is a French citizen at the time of their birth and that they are recognised by that parent as their biological child. This entails a slightly different documentation and declaration requirement, but is not wholly dissimilar to the ‘by birth’ process.

        Furthermore, if the applicant has been resident in France long-term, they may be subject to apply for French nationality through naturalisation; but this is a lengthy process and does require them to live and work legally in the country for many years ahead of application.

        Other routes to French nationality include an investment option for the financial benefit of French businesses and qualifying for citizenship through marriage to a French person.

        How Can Total Law Help?

        Applying for French citizenship on behalf of a child born in France is a daunting process for many as it entails a legal obligation to act appropriately for a minor – and is often navigated by a non French parent who doesn’t necessarily hold the knowledge of French society and its associated legal processes. Total Law offer support and guidance from start to finish, including any appeals as necessary, with the provision of specialist lawyers.

        The Total Law North American team are contactable on +1 844 290 6312 or message us online for a free, no obligation chat to discuss your circumstances and work through how best to successfully be granted French citizenship. We’ve managed to gain European Union citizenship for many Americans born in the country and continue to offer a comprehensive service for those with foreign and French parents alike.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  In the case of a child born in France to two non French parents, providing all other eligibility criteria is met, they may still be granted French citizenship. This will only be the case if both parents are resident in France for purposes other than overseas diplomatic service.

                  There is a minimum residency requirement for French citizenship through birthright applications, but this is waived where the French parent (or French parents) have broken this continuity through work abroad for the French diplomatic or consular services, or the armed forces.

                  French citizenship is awarded with the presentation of a registered declaration of nationality. In order to obtain a French passport, the applicant must undergo a separate application process thereafter.

                  When an individual serves in the French army or associated armed forces, they automatically qualify for French citizenship.

                  There is currently no requirement for child applicants to demonstrate French language proficiency in order to be awarded French citizenship.

                  There is currently no requirement for child applicants to demonstrate any knowledge of French society in order to be awarded French citizenship.

                  Those eligible can hold dual citizenship and be nationals of both the United States and France at the same time; benefitting from each.