Advertisement

11 reasons to apply for French citizenship

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
11 reasons to apply for French citizenship
Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP

Whether you’re in love with la belle France or just tired of having to keep renewing your carte de séjour, there are plenty of advantages to taking French citizenship.

Advertisement

After you've lived in France for a certain length of time you may become eligible for French citizenship. The process is long and can be daunting, but here are 11 reasons why it might be a good idea.

READ ALSO The ultimate guide to getting French citizenship

1. To become a European citizen

French citizens are, by definition, citizens of the EU and therefore have the right to live and work in all 27 member states of the European Union.

So, if you want visa-free travel throughout the Bloc, or even if you plan on moving to another European country in the future, becoming French can make your life a lot easier (Although, it’s probably best not to mention that during your citizenship interview).

Advertisement

2. To avoid queues at the airport

Another benefit of being a European citizen is being able to sail through the ‘European passports’ line at the airport, while looking at the long queue forming in the ‘All passports’ aisle.

Australian-born reader Richelle Harrison Plesse became French for this exact reason. “I was travelling a lot at the time and it was becoming such a pain to have to get in the line with 200 to 300 people with one guy checking passports,” she says.

“Meanwhile in the EU queue there are three or four people checking passports and everyone is whizzing through. I just thought, when the time comes that I can get a French passport, I'll get one. If French people ask me why I became French, I have no qualms about telling them it was to avoid the passport queues at airports.”

3. To be finished with paperwork

Well sort of. As long as you’re living in France, you will never be able to say goodbye to the country's famous bureaucracy. And getting citizenship may perhaps be the biggest bureaucratic hurdle of your life.

TIMELINE The 6 steps of French citizenship 

The levels of paperwork can be monstrous and the whole process takes months or often years, but once it's done it will save you even more effort in the long run, and you will never have to go through the tiresome process of renewing your carte de séjour. It also provides peace of mind that you won’t be kicked out of the country for incorrectly filling in a form.

4. To have the right to vote

If you’re planning on staying in France for the foreseeable future, it’s only natural to want to have a say in how the country’s being run. After all, foreigners who live in France are impacted by everything from minimum wage legislation and tax rates, to security and freedom of expression. By becoming French, you’ll gain the right to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections, and have your say in who gets to shape the laws of the future.

Advertisement

5. To have cheaper education

In 2018, the French government announced that it would be raising tuition fees for non-EU students, starting from the 2019-2020 academic year. The cost of a degree has skyrocketed from €170 to €2,770 per year, a jump of 16 times the previous fees. Meanwhile, a master’s degree, which used to cost €243, and a PhD, which was previously €380, will both now cost you €3,770.

The best way to ensure that you or your children will only have to fork out a few hundred euros for higher education is to adopt French nationality.

6. To feel closer to your neighbours

The French are a proud people and respect any efforts made to adapt to their culture, such as speaking the language. Gaining French nationality would be the ultimate gesture and would win plenty of kudos with the locals.

"Having French nationality definitely generated a lot more respect from my neighbours," American Jennifer Greco tells The Local. “It was like we were welcomed to the club. People invited us over to celebrate. The French are very proud of their country and they definitely appreciated it.”

Advertisement

7. To complain like a local

The French in general enjoy a good grumble, but it can be awkward trying to join in a group of locals who are complaining about their country. Like most people, the French enjoy moaning about their compatriots, but are less pleased when outsiders point out their faults.

Once you have the nationality, you can feel free to point out everything that’s wrong with France, safe in the knowledge that it’s your country, too.

“[This realisation] soon hit me, and I mean literally, when an electric scooter rear-ended my bike, evoking from me a tirade about French people's driving skills,” says British-Australian Sam Davies about his recent citizenship experience. “Now being French, I was free to insult my fellow people with impunity. After all, it's not xenophobic if you're disparaging your own ilk, right?”

Advertisement

8. To run for office

Citizens of any EU member state can stand in local and European elections in France, but if you’re not from the EU, you’ll have to acquire French nationality if you want to stand for office.

And only those who have French nationality can stand in parliamentary, senatorial or presidential elections. Naturalised French citizens are eligible, however, unlike in the United States where foreign-born citizens cannot run for president.

Running for president may seem far-fetched, but you wouldn’t be the first. Eva Joly, the Green candidate during the 2012 presidential election, was born in Norway and moved to France at the age of 20. Meanwhile, former Prime Minister and candidate during the 2016 presidential primaries Manuel Valls was born in Spain, as was current Paris mayor (and 2022 presidential candidate) Anne Hidalgo. 

9. To secure nationality for your children

Becoming French wouldn't just make life easier for you, it could open doors for your kids as well, especially if you ever move away, since a child who is born abroad to at least one French parent is eligible for French citizenship. Whether it's getting them into university in France on the cheap, or opening up the possibility of them playing for the French national football team, they might end up thanking you one day.

Your French nationality will not, however, transfer automatically to your partner. Being married to a French person does increase your chances of becoming a citizen, but only after four years of marriage, and with a host of other strings attached.

10. Because politics can change

As an immigrant in France you are always subject to the various laws around residency and will need to regularly renew your residency card (and are limited to how long you can spend outside France without losing residency rights).

You might meet all the criteria now, but these can change at the whim of the government. Immigration is increasingly becoming a hot-button issue in France with various politicians trying to 'get tough'.

Advertisement

France's next presidential election is in 2027 and it's not beyond the realms of possibility that the country will elect a far-right leader - which could have significant consequences for the lives of immigrants and would-be immigrants in France.

11. Because, why not?

French law recognises dual citizenship, so as long as your country does the same (certain countries, such as India, do not recognise dual nationality), becoming French does not mean cutting ties with your country of origin.

With the choice of two passports, it could also save you money on visa fees for entry into certain countries.

More

Comments (2)

Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

Anonymous 2019/08/23 12:55
In 1939/40 the dream of many in Europe was to be a British citizen
Anonymous 2019/08/16 11:25
How about an article about the 10 reasons NOT to become French??? :) :) :)

See Also