Dual nationality in France — conditions, advantages and process

France By Western Union Jun 12, 2024

Dual nationality is an important issue for many immigrants living in France. It means that you are a citizen of two countries at the same time, and that you have the same rights and duties as French citizens. However, obtaining it is subject to several conditions it that you must be aware of (grounds, process, prices, etc.).

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about dual nationality in France and whether being a dual national is for you.

What is dual nationality?

Someone with dual citizenship has two nationalities at the same time. That means that both countries recognize the citizenship of that person and guarantee them the same rights and duties as those accorded to their own citizens. Dual nationality is allowed in France, and the conditions for obtaining it are set out in the country’s civil code.

As such, in France, a foreign citizen wishing to obtain French nationality can retain their original nationality, thus meaning that they have dual nationality. The same applies to French citizens who wish to obtain, or have obtained, the nationality of another country (if that country authorizes dual nationality).

Obtaining French nationality, or a foreign nationality if you’re a French citizen, typically makes it possible to get a second passport (in accordance with local rules and regulations), which makes travel between the two countries in question much easier. For example, if you’re Moroccan and obtain French nationality, you’ll no longer need a visa from Morocco to enter France (when live) because you’re both French and Moroccan.

How to get dual nationality

Dual nationality can be granted in four cases:

  • By birth,
  • While a child is under legal age,
  • By naturalization,
  • By declaration (marriage or family),

By birth

Dual nationality in France can be granted upon the birth of a baby:

  • When they are born in the country (under jus soli),
  • By filiation (under jus sanguinis), when there is a legal link between the child and their father and/or mother, because the latter have French nationality.

While the child is under legal age

A foreign minor child obtains dual nationality when one of their parents becomes French, under two cumulative conditions:

  • The child usually resides with that parent (or, in the case of divorce or separation, alternately resides with that parent),
  • The child’s name is stated in the parent’s naturalization decree or declaration of nationality (by marriage, by descent, etc.).

The child may obtain triple nationality if their parents are of different nationalities.

By naturalization

Dual nationality can be obtained by naturalization. With this method, it is acquired by decree. To obtain dual nationality by naturalization, the person must:

  • Be of legal age (an application for dual nationality can be filed at the age of 17 for naturalization to take effect from the age of 18),
  • Have resided in France for at least five years (with some exceptions as specified by law),
  • Have a valid residence permit (this does not apply to European citizens),
  • Have a B1 level of spoken and written French on the CEFR scale,
  • Prove their knowledge of major dates in French history, and of citizens’ rights and duties,
  • Respect the values of the French Republic: liberty, equality, fraternity,
  • Not have committed acts contrary to public order.

The main conditions for applying for naturalization are specified in Articles 21-15 to 21-27 of the French civil code.

When a person becomes French by naturalization, they must inform the relevant department of the nationality or nationalities that they already hold. If they wish to have dual nationality (or triple nationality), they must specify the nationality or nationalities that they wish to retain. They may also specify the nationality or nationalities that they wish to renounce.

By declaration (marriage, family)

Dual nationality can be obtained by declaration, as in the case of a marriage or filiation (parent, grandparent, brother or sister of a French citizen). For dual nationality to be obtained by marriage, the spouse must have been a French national at the time of the marriage and have retained French nationality ever since. If the marriage took place abroad, it must have been entered into the French civil registers.

To apply for dual nationality by marriage, you must have lived in France continuously for at least four years since your marriage. If you have lived abroad, this period is extended to five years, unless your spouse has been registered in consular registers.

Dual nationality in France can also be obtained by a family member:

  • By descent (parents or grandparents), provided that they are over 65 years old and their regular and habitual residence has been in France for at least 25 years,
  • By siblinghood (brother or sister), either when they reach legal age, at the age of 16, or at the age of 13, by proving that their regular and habitual residence has been in France for a minimum of 5 years since a certain age (11 years or 8 years, depending on the situation). Furthermore, at the time of your application, you must have resided in France regularly and habitually since you were six years old and have been educated in France at a State-approved institution.

As with naturalization, a person obtaining French nationality by declaration must inform the relevant department of the nationality or nationalities that they already hold, the nationality or nationalities that they wish to retain, and the nationality or nationalities that they wish to renounce.

Work or study

After a certain amount of time, a foreign citizen may apply for dual nationality if they have studied in France or found a job with a French company, provided that:

  • Study: A foreign citizen who has studied at a French university for five years and lived continuously in France for two years following graduation can obtain a French passport,
  • Work: A foreign citizen who entered into an employment contract with a French company for a minimum period of 12 months may, in the event that their contract is extended, become a naturalized French citizen after 5 years of continuous residence in France.

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What are the advantages of dual nationality?

If you obtain dual nationality in France, you have all the rights and obligations associated with French nationality. The same is true for French people with dual nationality. As such, there are many advantages to dual nationality:

  • Consular protection from two countries (or more, for people with multiple nationalities): You can receive assistance from the French consulate (and the consulate of your country of origin) if you have any problems in a foreign country;
  • Freedom of movement: Obtaining a second passport allows you to freely enter and leave the countries where you are a national without needing a visa. In addition, a French passport allows you to travel to 188 countries;
  • The right to work: Having dual French nationality also opens up work or career prospects, as you are able to work freely in France;
  • Freedom to reside in France or your country of origin;
  • Family reunification: The spouse, parents or minor children of a French dual national citizen can obtain a residence permit and later apply for French nationality;
  • Social and educational benefits: inheritance, education, social services, access to healthcare, French government aid, etc.;
  • Participation in the political life of both countries: The right to vote and to stand for election;
  • Simplified taxation for dual national businesspeople: exemption from the higher tax rate applicable to foreign heads of companies;
  • Simplified administrative processes: French dual nationality facilitates access to employment, real estate investment, business creation, etc.

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What are the disadvantages of dual nationality?

Holding dual nationality also has several disadvantages, which you need to take into account before making your application:

  • The conditions for dual nationality: Some countries only allow dual nationality with certain other countries, while some prohibit it altogether. To obtain the nationality of one of those countries, you’ll have to renounce your original nationality;
  • Honoring the duties and obligations of both countries: A dual national must honor their duties in each country and must, for example, perform military service if one of the countries requires it;
  • Risk of double taxation: Depending on your situation, you may be at risk of paying taxes in both countries. You should check ahead of time whether there is an agreement in place enabling you to avoid double taxation. France has numerous international tax treaties establishing whether foreign income is taxable or exempt, and whether or not it must be declared;
  • Risk of statelessness: This risk, which is small but real, occurs when an individual loses all their nationalities and thus does not enjoy the protection of any state.

Finally, a dual national French citizen cannot invoke their French nationality before the authorities of the other State where they also hold nationality when they reside in its territory, and are thus treated as having one nationality. Consequently, French diplomatic protection cannot be exercised against the other State, and vice versa.

What is the process to obtain dual nationality?

Before you apply for dual nationality, you must confirm that:

  • Your country of origin allows it,
  • You have valid grounds to apply for dual nationality (naturalization, marriage, minor child, etc.),
  • Your application is eligible, i.e. you meet all the required conditions in accordance with the grounds for dual nationality.

Next, you must complete an application file and compile all the required supporting documents. These documents may vary depending on the type of application for dual nationality (naturalization, marriage, minor child, etc.).

As a guide, if you are applying for dual nationality by marriage, you must provide several types of documents:

  • Two copies of Cerfa form 15277, which must be fully completed, dated and signed;
  • Mandatory documents, regardless of your situation: two recent ID photos with your last name, first name and date of birth on the reverse; one copy of a recent proof of address (electricity bill, water bill, Internet bill, etc.), one electronic tax stamp for €55;
  • Civil status documents: original birth certificate; original marriage certificate (issued less than three months prior); copy of the transcription into the French consular registers for a marriage held abroad, issued less than three months prior and proving a marriage performed four years ago or more; certificates pertaining to previous marriages and any documents proving the dissolution thereof;
  • Documents pertaining to children: birth certificates for children, whether adult or minor, born before or after your marriage;
  • One document proving the spouse’s French nationality: original birth certificate of the spouse, if they were born in France to two parents born in France, or a copy of their birth certificate stating that they are of French nationality, or a certificate of French nationality;
  • Documents pertaining to regular residence and joint living since marriage: any document proving that you live together (CAF [caisse d’allocations familiales — family allowance fund] notice, joint tax notice, birth certificates of your shared children, etc.) and any recent document in both your names showing your current address (recent electricity, water or landline telephone bill).
  • Proof of French language level: diploma or certificate of B1-level spoken and written French on the CEFR scale.

You can simulate your situation and see all the documents you need on the Service Public website.

Any document in another language must be translated into French by a certified translator. Some documents must also be legalized or apostilled to validate their authenticity.

Once your file is complete, you must contact your French nationality access platform, which depends on where you live and, depending on the platform, submit your file at the counter or send it by post with acknowledgement of receipt. All incomplete files will be returned.

You will then be invited to an interview to verify your situation and your assimilation into French society. The ministry responsible for naturalizations then has a period of one year to accept or refuse your application for dual nationality. If it is refused, you have six months to appeal the decision.

How much does it cost to apply for dual nationality?

In France, applying for French nationality costs €55 (€27.50 in French Guiana), which is the price of the tax stamp. The cost of translating any documents into French must be added on top of that price. Abroad, the price of an application for dual nationality varies from country to country.

FAQs

How many nationalities can you have in France?

It’s theoretically possible to have more than three or four nationalities in France, as long as other the countries in question accept multiple nationalities. However, you need to be able to meet each country’s requirements in order to obtain or retain that nationality.

Can you lose dual nationality?

Yes, it’s possible to lose dual nationalitywhen your personal situation changes with a resulting change of nationality under French law, the law of another nation, or international agreements. French nationality may be withdrawn in the event of conviction for certain crimes and offenses.