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Citizenship by Descent in France

Citizenship by Descent in France

A foreign national can obtain French citizenship by descent if he/she has one or both parents who are French nationals or through adoption. Determining this right according to ancestry is an important step and one with which our immigration lawyers in France can assist.

Not all foreign nationals can qualify for citizenship by descent in France, however, they can also acquire this status through marriage, or through naturalization. Below, we will describe the situations in which you can obtain French nationality by descent, or by birth in France.

Upon request, our team can answer other questions, such as those related to residency for investors in France, not only citizenship.

What are the conditions for obtaining French citizenship by descent?

Your ancestry can help you acquire citizenship by descent in France without the need to go through the naturalization process and without the need to marry a French citizen. However, you need to be able to prove your direct lineage to a French national (who either has or has French citizenship).

In addition to providing sufficient proof of your ancestry if you wish to obtain French citizenship by descent, you can also keep in mind that the following conditions are in place for the French national to whom you are related:

  • He/she is a direct line ancestor who was a legal French citizen;
  • He/she was not deprived of, nor did he/she renounce his/her French citizenship.

You will need to travel to France in order to make this submission with the help of our team specializing in immigration in France. Before you do so, our lawyers can give you details on the visa requirements to enter the country, based on your nationality.

If you have a French parent or grandparent and you wish to move to France based on ancestry, our team will help you follow the steps to make your relocation as straightforward as possible.

Can you apply for citizenship if you are an ascendant, not a descendant of a French national?

Foreign nationals who are 65 years or older, and who have a child or grandchild who has acquired citizenship in France, can submit a declaration of French nationality so they can also acquire this status.

The following conditions apply to ascendants who wish to acquire citizenship based on their lineage:

  • Residence: the applicant needs to have been a French resident for 25 years or more (have a valid residence permit);
  • Children: the descendant can be a child, grandchild, or great-grandchild who has French nationality;
  • Other conditions: the applicant should not have a criminal conviction;
  • Interview: as part of the applicant process, the individual is scheduled to have an interview to determine his or her eligibility.

What are the requirements for French citizenship by birth?

French nationality can be attributed by birth, under the following conditions:

  • The child is born in France to one or both French parents;
  • The child is born in France to stateless parents, or to foreign parents who have not passed their nationality to their child;
  • The child was born in France before 1 January 1994, to a parent who was born in a former French overseas territory, prior to independence.
  • The child was born in France after 1 January 1963 to a parent born in Algeria before 3 July 1962.

If you have questions about French citizenship by birth, or citizenship by descent, do not hesitate to reach out to us.

According to the National Statistical Office (INSEE), the origins of immigrants are varied and have diversified over the years. Our team summarizes several key data, according to INSEE and Eurostat:

  • 10.3% of the population living in France in 2021 was immigrant;
  • 6.5% of the population was immigrant in 1968;
  • France granted 130,400 new citizenships in 2021, or 16% of the EU total.

If you are interested in other topics, such as how to remain in France as a digital nomad, do not hesitate to reach out to our local team of immigration experts.

Contact our immigration lawyers in France if you have a parent or grandparent who is or was a French national and you wish to acquire citizenship by descent in France. We will help you find out if you are eligible and assist you with the application.