Nationality is defined as the legal bond between an individual and a particular State. French nationals are subject to obligations which flow from this bond and enjoy a number of political, civic and professional rights as well as public liberties.
A person may lose their French nationality following a decision by a public official; a voluntary action; extended non-use; or forfeiture. Under certain conditions, reintegration into French nationality is provided for in accordance with the Code civil.
Physical proof of French nationality includes a certificate of French nationality, issued by magistrates’ courts. Click here for more information about this certificate.
French nationality can arise from:
- attribution by descent, or “jus sanguines”
Any child with one or more French parents is French.
Filiation/parentage by adoption only confers French nationality in the event of full adoption.
Moreover, the child’s parentage only has an impact on his/her nationality if parentage was established while he/she was a minor.
- attribution by birth in France, or “jus soli”
A child born in France, where one or both parents were born in France, is French.
Simply being born in France only guarantees attribution of French nationality for children born to unknown or stateless parents, or to foreign parents who haven’t passed on their nationality to their child.
A child born in France before 1 January 1994, to a parent born in a former French overseas territory prior to independence, is French by law. The same applies to a child born in France after 1 January 1963, to a parent born in Algeria before 3 July 1962.
- acquisition of nationality following personal events (marriage to a French spouse, for example) or a decision taken by French authorities (naturalization)
Acquisition of French nationality by marriage
The foreign or stateless spouse (i.e. without a nationality) of a French national may, after a 4 year period, acquire French nationality by declaration, on condition that on the date of this declaration:
Consortium (cohabitation in a matrimonial relationship (both emotional and physical)) of the spouses has not ceased since the time of marriage, and the French spouse has retained his/her citizenship.
The window for consortium (cohabitation in a matrimonial relationship) is 5 years, where the foreign spouse, at the time of the declaration:
Either cannot prove having lived in France continuously for at least 3 years since the time of marriage,
Or is not able to provide evidence to support the fact that his/her French spouse was registered in the list of French nationals living outside France (French expatriates) throughout the duration of their consortium while married.
Marriages celebrated abroad must have been previously recorded in the French civil status register.
The foreign spouse must also prove that he/she has adequate knowledge of the French language.
1 The couple must appear together to sign the documents.
2 The foreign spouse must have sound a good grasp of the French language (written and spoken).