March 27, 2008

The First Few Steps Toward French Citizenship

This week I'll walk down to the Mairie to turn in my Demande d'Acquisition de la Nationalité Française (French Naturalization/Citizenship) dossier in the hopes that it will be turned in to the sous-préfecture in a timely manner and that Béziers won't take the projected 18 months to provide an answer. (but if I know the sous-préfecture in Béziers, it will take even longer)
And I want that answer to be OUI.
Bien sur!

Our sexy, well-coiffed and well dressed postmistress delivered a letter from my dad yesterday that included copies of his and my mom's birth certificates as well as their marriage certificate to include with my application.

I also have to supply:
  • my birth certificate and official French translation
  • my husband's birth certificate and official French translation
  • our marriage certificate and official French translation
  • proof of residency in France for the last 5 years
  • list of previous places of residence (how far back do I go? No idea)
  • list of former employers
  • names of all siblings
  • names of all children (easy - none)
  • names of all pets (just kidding)
  • photos
  • two copies of the completed application
I don't want to sound pessimistic, but if living here for 5 years has taught me anything, it is to never expect things to go smoothly when dealing with French bureaucracy!

Wish me luck!

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wcs said...


You know that's "good luck" in French, right? I always worry...

I hope it goes well. We want to do the same thing, and we'll have been here 5 years in June. The only documents I'd have trouble with are the parents' birth certificates. Both my parents are deceased; I wouldn't know where to start.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the merde! :)

To order birth certificates you just go to

They can get them from any state and will deliver them to France. I sent them to my dad and had him send them here because it was a cheaper option.
My parents didn't have a copy of their marriage certificate (they're divorced) so I ordered it through VitalChek.
It only took a few days to process.

Ksam said...

Oooh, good luck - I hope you'll post about how it goes, I'm going to start getting my paperwork together this summer!

Jennifer said...

I plan on writing all about the process and any stumbling blocks I encounter.
Do you know of any other's French citizenship stories? I'd love to hear them!

Ksam said...

I know a Kiwi who just turned in his application, but besides that, I don't really know of anyone else's who's applied recently (unless Riana has??). Most of the people I know are like us and are just reaching the 5 year mark least we'll all be in it together!

La Belette Rouge said...

I envy you the destination--it is the red tape and bureaucratic mess I could do without. But, it will be so worth it. Bon chance!!

Jennifer said...

Yes, we can lament together! I see it in our future...
No, Riana has one more year that I know of.

la belette,
It will be worth it, absolutely!

Betty Carlson said...

I got mine a few years back. I don't remember having to provide employment details, but maybe I did. Then again, is your husband French? Mine being French may have made the process a little simpler -- not a lot, though. I still needed all of those old birth certificates and certified translations.

Of course, I don't think getting US citizenship is exactly simple either.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Why would they need your parents birth certificates and marriage certs?

isa said...

Luck! ;-)

Jennifer said...

we're both American so it probably makes it harder. We've joked about getting divorced so I can marry a Frenchman and make this easier!
I doubt getting American citizenship is easy either.

They also want marriage and divorce certificates if you were married before, which I was. Surprisingly, I still had those documents tucked away in a file.


Linda said...

I rather easily became a French citizen because my husband is French. However, that doesn't mean they didn't want copies of everything. I thought they were going to ask for a letter from my mother for a minute there or maybe a recipe for American apple pie. They didn't even require a test of some sort in French with questions about France.

wcs said...

Thanks for the link. I'll tuck that away - or maybe just get started now... What the heck?

Ksam said...

Sarkozy has made it a lot tougher for us foreigners over the past few years - I mean, just look how tough they've made it just to get the 10 year residency card. So it's even harder if you actually want to become French!

It's also toughened up for those married to French citizens to prevent marriages blancs - you now have to wait four years, instead of the one year (pre-2002) or two years (2002-2004) that it used to be. So those of us that aren't married to a Frenchie only have to wait one more year than those who are married!

Jennifer said...

A recipe for apple pie...maybe I should include one? Or MAKE an apple pie and send it with the dossier! it might earn me some points! :)

You might as well start gathering paperwork now...June is just around the corner!

I'll tell my husband is safe from being served divorce papers. :)

I think I remember reading about the new Sarko laws. I know it has affected getting our Carte de Séjours renewed, i.e. made it more difficult. Merci M le President.

Anonymous said...

good luck. we know exactly how it feels to try and wait for those papers needed to really feel like you are 'home'. My husband is English and he came to the US to be with me. We had to get married in order for him to stay in the country and even then, it took years before he felt as though he was always on the verge of being kicked out any second. it's irritating and nerve-wracking. Finally, he just got his 10-year visa and feel that he can breath a bit freely now. But that first year he was here where he could not work was a real tough one for us.

amy @

Riana Lagarde said...

i turned mine in 2 years ago, but the law changed six days before so now I have to do my dossier all over again this summer! grrrr!!

you didnt have to attest that you are not a crook at the embassy? i had to do that but not my parents birth certificates.

good merde to you!!

Jennifer said...

we are never full,
You both must be relieved! It is stressful to be in a limbo like situation!
Bravo on the 10 year visa. I hope he becomes a citizen if he wants.

I remember that story! Six damn days. You'd think they would just let it go.
I'm still trying to figure out this police report thing. I'll update soon!

David said...

I finally got an answer out of them at the prefecture about how long I have to wait to apply for my carte de residence. Last year no one there knew. Which is kinda odd, considering that's their job. Oh wait, this is France ; )

Jennifer said...

Wow, you're lucky you got an answer! How long did they say?

We expect that they don't know what the hell they're doing and that they don't know the answer to anything.
Funny (in a wanting to wring someone's neck, frustrating way) isn't it?

Rachael Narins said...

Bonne chance Loulou! Just to be prepared, you might as well show up with a dna sample, photos of your grandmothers next door neighbors cat waving a French flag and a certified letter from your grammer school teacher (with official French translation)saying what a gem you never know.

Unknown said...

I have learned never to expect things to go smoothly when dealing with American bureaucracy.

Jennifer said...

I read your comment to my husband and we both got a good laugh. You aren't that far off....

I learned that in New Orleans. Washington State was always very smooth and organized though

Anonymous said...

Bon Chance. At 50, I've just discovered that under French law since I was born to a French citizen, I am eligible for French citizenship. You are a few steps ahead of me, but I will observe with interest. My first step today is contacting the French consulate today.

Jennifer said...

I wish you the best of luck! Please keep me posted on your progress.

JonGaxi said...

Loulou, thank you for this great blog! You are the only one whose blog I have read so far that goes into much detail. MERCI!!!

I am looking into moving to France on a long-stay tourist visa (I am self-employed doing all work online). From what I read you too were there initially on a long-stay visa, correct?

I have read and heard from other sources that in order to apply for French citizenship one must have worked for a French employer for the 5 years prior to applying. Based on your research or experience am I understanding that correctly?

I am trying to understand if being in France for 5 years on a long-stay visa without working for a French employers (rather working for myself) will allow me to eventually apply for citizenship.

I am also trying to understand when one is allowed to enroll for healthcare since one has to provide their own health insurance with a long-stay visa application.

Any information you may have to share is welcomed. Thanks, Jon

Jennifer said...

You're welcome!
I wish I could help you some more, but I applied over 6 years ago, and things have changed a lot since then.

As far as I know now, you have to live here 5 years before you can apply to join the healthcare system.

We initially moved with a long stay visa, but that did not give us the right to work. I applied for citizenship after 5 years, but had not worked at all, just proved that I had lived here all that time and was integrated into French life.

Good luck! :)