VISAs

The VISA situation remains complicated. Brits are legally EU citizens until the exit-date (currently 31 January 2020) and therefore cannot secure French residency rights by applying for the types of carte de séjour (VISAs) available to non-Europeans.

Likewise, VISAs available to Brits as Europeans  will automatically become defunct on the Brexit date. They remain, however, extremely useful in officially establishing an arrival date of an individual on French soil.

For this reason some French departments reportedly (and controversially ) took the stance of delaying processing of requests for permanent residency VISAs for British citizens (Carte de Séjour Citoyen UE/EEE/Suisse - Séjour permanent).

The Direction Générale des Etrangers en France (DGEF) did, however, remind prefectures in March 2018 of Britons’ rights to apply for the cards. It has been agreed in the Brexit negotiations so far that those already holding a 'permanent stay' (10 year) EU citizen carte de séjour may exchange it in a simple process if it is necessary for Britons in France after Brexit (or the transition period) to hold a different kind of card.

It is hence well worth applying for a carte de séjour Citoyen UE/EEE/Suisse now, before prefectures become overloaded with requests. It is also important to remember, however, that no matter the result of Brexit negotiations, the document will not have the same legal validity after January 2020.

The French Goverment have published an official information site  for Brexit and, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, have provided an on-line Carte de Séjour application process  for British citizens resident in France before the Brexit date.


Citizenship

The one route to residency that is equally valid both before and after Brexit, is "naturalisation" - the request to become a French citizen. As dual nationality remains an option in France, British residents do not have to give up their nationality of origin.

The requirements for French citizenship  vary depending on personal situation. In the following example we will review a relatively standard situation -

Procedures differ between departments hence it is critical to follow those established for the relevant prefecture. Here we will consider an application to the Préfecture d'Ille-et-Vilaine , which is responsible for requests for citizenship status across Brittany.

Requirements

For the personal situation outlined above, the general requirements are:

General Points

For British citizens, documents provided in English during the application process will need to be translated by an official translator (a "traducteur assermenté "), but do NOT need apostille certification.

French birth certificates in France are active records of life events. Marriages etc. will be recorded on this document. Hence, when providing a French birth certificate, this needs to be less than three months' old. The same does not apply to British birth certificates which are a static record of birth only.

However, prefecture staff deal with applications from a wide range of nationalities on a daily basis. It is arguably good practice for an applicant to ensure that all certificates, testimonials ("attestations") and relevant translations provided are less than three months old. It important to be organised in the application process, to identify documents that may require delays to obtain, and to process these requests first.

The Application Form

The relevant form N°12753*02  is relatively self-explanatory. If in any doubt, the Préfecture d'Ille-et-Vilaine provide a pre-completed example .

The telephone help-line is 02 99 02 15 04 - open on Tuesdays from 14h - 17h. There is also an efficient email service for dealing with queries at pref-naturalisations@ille-et-vilaine.gouv.fr.

Documents to be Provided

The Préfecture d'Ille-et-Vilaine provide detailed instructions  for the documents that must be included with the application form. It is critical to pay close attention to the requests for originals and/or copies.

We will cover a selection of the most important requested documents under the relevant sections in these instructions.

État civil - Civil Status

You will be asked to provide various birth and marriage certificates (originals and/or copies) for you, your spouse, your children and your parents.

Official copies can be requested on-line from the General Register Office  for England and Wales

*Hint: these copies will arrive much quicker if you can supply the relevant GRO record number which can be obtained on-line via FreeBMD .

All of these certificates must be translated by an official translator .

*Hint: Don't forget the requested certificate of schooling ("certificat de scolarité") for minor children. This is obtained by request from your child's school.

Séjour - Proof of Stay

You must include a copy passport (with copies of all stamped pages) and proof of residency for the 5 years required.

You may supply one document per year of stay - generally your annual French income tax statement ("Avis d'impôt sur le revenu").

*Hint: various documents may be accepted as proof of residence - such as a copy rental agreement for a principal residence, for example. Check eligibility with the prefecture before sending.

Connaissance de la langue - Knowledge of French

Unless you have studied at a French University, you must supply a certificate proving knowledge of oral French at the DELF B1 level in both of the categories of expression and understanding.

The "Test de connaissance du français (TCF) pour l'accès à la nationalité française (ANF)" or TCF-ANF examination provides the required certificate. Do not confuse this exam with other TCF tests for the general public.

Various organisations host test days including the University of South Bretagne .

The test involves two exercises of around 37 minutes in total:

  • 29 oral comprehension questions lasting about 25 minutes (multiple-choice written responses to recorded questions).
  • 3 oral expression questions lasting around 12 minutes (interview situation)

The test is intended to be difficult. The oral comprehension exercise contains trick questions which, later in the test, even a native French speaker might struggle to answer correctly.

Preparation, and familiarity with the exam format, is hence critical for success. If you intend to sit the TCF-ANF - contact us for exam practice sessions .

Example group immersion course

*Hint: Remember to sign your certificate.

Moralité - Character

If resident in France for less than 10 years, you will need to prove good character by providing a UK criminal record check, and also the French equivalent. Otherwise you must provide proof of 10 years' residency and the French check only.

You will also need to provide certificates for any country in which you were resident for more than 6 months.

All of these certificates must be translated by an official translator .

There are currently two types of UK criminal records checks available to British citizens as individuals.

Police Certificates - ACRO Criminal Records Office

You may obtain a criminal record check for immigration purposes on-line from ACRO . The fee is £45.00 as of writing and the request takes 10 days not including postage times.

You should be aware that this certificate will reveal the existence of all records of convictions, official warnings, cautions etc. held by UK police - however old.

  • All recent or serious offences will be listed on the certificate.
  • Offences considered spent (rehabilitated) will be "stepped down" according to legislation and case precedent.
  • A clean certificate will state "No Trace" whilst a certificate for an individual with spent offences will state "No Live Trace". In the latter instance, an ACRO Subject Access Request  can be used to determine what records are held. The fee is £10.00 as of writing and the request takes 40 days not including postage times.

Example group immersion course

Basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check

You may obtain a basic criminal record check (normally for employment purposes) from the UK Government website . The fee is £23.00 as of writing and the request takes 14 days not including postage times.

Unlike the ACRO Police Certificate, a Basic Disclosure certificate will not reveal spent offences. This fact is clearly written on the certificate.

Whilst there is evidence that Basic Disclosure certificates may be acceptable  for French citizenship applications there remains the problem that this is normally a check carried out on UK residents for UK employment purposes. It would not, for example, be acceptable to US authorities who would wish to see an entire criminal history, including spent offences.

This check was previously provided by Disclosure Scotland, for which an example certificate is provided here.

Example basic disclosure form

Extrait de Casier Judiciaire (bulletin n°3)

Your French criminal records check may be ordered by post using form N°10071*10  or on-line .

The application is free of charge and generally rapid.

Example group immersion course

Domicile - Residence

If you are renting you will need to provide your rental contract, last rent receipt and last gas/electricity bill.

If a property owner you will need to provide a copy Act of Ownership ("acte de propriété") with a bank attestation detailing the terms of any mortgage and the last gas/electricity bill.

*Hint: this is not the short "attestation de vente" provided by the notaire on the day of sale, but the longer document forwarded by post often months after the sale.

Situation fiscale - Tax Situation

You must provide full copies of your income tax demands ("Avis d'impôt sur le revenu") for the last three years, or evidence of non-imposition of taxes.

If living with a partner (married or otherwise) you will need to provide their last three years' income tax demands as well.

You will need to provide evidence that you are up to date with all taxes for the last three years. This is done by providing a "bordereau de situation fiscale" (form P237) from all French tax offices at which you have paid tax during the last three financial years.

This is done via your personal, on-line tax portal . You can find instructions here .

Ressources et activité professionnelle - Professional Activity and Resources

You will need to supply a Kbis extract  for your business.

*Hint: order the postal version not the downloadable version.

For a micro/auto-entrepreneur, you will need to supply quarterly declarations of income for the last three years. These can be downloaded from the on-line portal  where the declarations were made. You should also consider including the official "attestation fiscale" for each year (available from the Sécurité Sociale Indépendants ) which details the total amount declared each year.

You will need to supply testimonies ("attestations") that you have paid all appropriate social contributions ("cotisations"). These are available to download from your personal RSI account . Originals are requested, but print-outs of the downloads are accepted.

Micro-entrepreneurs are required to pay business tax - the Contribution Fonciere des Entreprises (CFE). You will hence need to supply a "Certificat de Regularite Fiscale" stating that you are up-to-date with CFE payments. This is obtained by request from your local tax office.

If living with a partner (married or otherwise) you will need to provide similar evidence of professional activity for them.


The above is a summary of some of the more important documents you will need to provide when applying for French citizenship from the Préfecture d'Ille-et-Vilaine. It is specific to the following personal situation:

  • A British individual,
  • married to another British citizen,
  • with a child,
  • and working as an micro-entrepreneur  (previously known as auto-entrepreneur).

The above information is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be exhaustive. Documents required for your personal situation may differ. If in doubt, all information should be confirmed with the prefecture in advance of sending your application. We disclaim any and all liability for any issues that may be encountered as a result of following the information provided. The information is current as of November 2017.

If you require any assistance with the TCF-ANF French language examination - contact us for exam practice sessions .