French citizenship For Members

France introduces new simplified process for citizenship

The Local France
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France introduces new simplified process for citizenship
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a citizenship ceremony in 2017. Photo by Michel Euler / POOL / AFP

Foreigners living in France who want to apply for French citizenship can now access a simplified process with the opening of a new online portal. Here's how it works and who is eligible.


If you're not French but would like to become French, the government has now launched a (slightly) simplified process for Naturalisation française par décret, with the opening of the NATALI online portal.


NATALI is an online service for submitting your citizenship application - and it's important to stress that it doesn't change the qualifications required for citizenship, only how you go about applying.

For foreigners living in France there are two main routes to citizenship; living in France for at least five years (or two years if you completed higher education in France) or marriage to a French citizen for at least four years.


You can find a full list of all the routes to citizenship (joining the French Foreign Legion, for example) HERE, plus a breakdown of all the paperwork you will need HERE

You cannot use the portal at present if you live in the French overseas départements of French Polynesia, French Guiana, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint-Martin-Saint-Barthélémy, New Caledonia or Wallis and Futuna.

You can find NATALI (no, we don't know what it stands for) here.

What changes?

The new system is intended to streamline the application process by creating a single, nationwide portal where you can submit your citizenship application online.

Once the dossier is submitted, you will only need one in-person appointment - at your local préfecture where you go for the interview where you will be tested on your knowledge of France and French culture, to see if you are sufficiently integrated to become a citizen. Successful applicants will then be invited to an in-person naturalisation ceremony, which again is held at the local préfecture.

Philosophy, household chores and cheese - what you might be asked in your French citizenship exam

Just as before, it is your local préfecture that actually makes the decision on your application, the online portal is just a streamlined way to submit the dossier.

The portal also allows you to create an online account where you can track the process of your application, and where any requests for extra documents or more information will be sent.


The portal went live on February 6th and now all new applications must be made in this way, according to the government's public service site.

Previously some préfectures would accept applications online, while others demanded a paper dossier be submitted.

At the time of writing, most préfecture websites still contain instructions for the old system, but the government's public service site says that: "All applications for naturalisation by decree must now be made electronically. Any paper application sent after February 6th, 2023 will be returned to the sender."


What if I already made my application?

If you have already made an application and received a file number you do not need to make a new one.

Will this process be quicker?

On average getting citizenship takes between 18 months and two years from first submission of the dossier to being given the certificate of naturalisation, although it varies quite substantially between different préfectures.

No-one is promising that this system will be any quicker in delivering decisions, but it should be easier for applicants to use. 

Can I do any advanced preparation?

If you don't yet qualify for citizenship, but intend to apply in the future, you can begin in advance with preparation of your dossier.


You can head to the French government's naturalisation simulator HERE, which takes you through a list of questions about your personal circumstances, and then provides you with a downloadable list of documents that you will need in order to submit your dossier.

Some of them are basic and obvious like a passport, some you will need to get nearer the time like recent payslips or tax returns and others may require contact with authorities in your home country such as a recent copy of your birth certificate or a declaration that you have a clean criminal record.

You may also need to get some of your documents translated into French, using the services of a certified translator.

It's also worth noting that unless you completed higher education in France, you will need a recent certificate of a French language exam to at least B1 level - full details HERE

QUIZ Is your French good enough for citizenship?


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