French citizenship For Members

Reader question: Will a criminal record stop you getting French citizenship?

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Reader question: Will a criminal record stop you getting French citizenship?
Having a criminal record may not stop you getting French citizenship. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

Among the many documents required in your application for French citizenship may be one confirming that you have a clean criminal record - but who is required to show this? And will any type of offence bar you from citizenship?


Question: I hear that during the citizenship process you need to provide proof of a clean criminal record - how do you do that? And does that mean that any offences - even parking tickets - would disqualify you?

During the citizenship application process, people who are applying through residency must, as well as passing language and integration tests, provide proof that they have no criminal record over the past 10 years.

READ ALSO The 6 steps to becoming French 

You can use the French government citizenship simulator HERE to determine whether you need to provide proof of your clean criminal record. 

How to prove you have a clean criminal record

First you need to prove that you have not been convicted of a crime in France, by providing your extrait de casier judiciaire. You can do that online, here


Depending on your criteria for citizenship, you may also need to demonstrate a clean record going back a maximum of 10 years.

That means contacting authorities in any other countries you have lived in during the specified period. 

People who were living in the UK, including Northern Ireland, need to apply for a Police Certificate from the Criminal Records Office at a cost of between £55 and £95, depending on how quickly you want the document. 

Anyone living in Ireland should apply for a Gardaí-issued Police Certificate. The form - available here - should be submitted to the Superintendent and/or Assistant Principal Officer in the Division where the applicant resides, or formerly resided. There is no charge for this document, which usually takes about three weeks to process.

In the US, contact the police department where you live or last lived, and request a clean criminal record document. Different states have different rules, but some require you to attend in person.

To apply for an Australian police certificate you must submit an National Police Check application form - available online here. A basic document costs AU$42.

The process for police certificates from New Zealand authorities is available here

What offences disqualify you from citizenship?

Citizenship applications are decided on an individual basis, but the good news is that getting a few points on your driving licence is unlikely to disqualify you.

Applicants must not have been convicted of a crime resulting in a jail term of more than six months, any offences that attracted a lesser penalty are decided on an individual basis.


However, anyone who has been convicted of a crime or offence that "breaches or attacks the interests of the French state" is likely to be refused.

Furthermore, those who apply for citizenship through residency - rather than ascendancy or marriage - also need to demonstrate "good moral conduct", so this could disqualify people who have a long record of minor offences. 

What does that mean in practice?

Citizenship is highly likely to be refused to anyone who has;

  • Conviction(s) for acts against the fundamental interests of the nation, or conviction for serious and / or violent offences;
  • Conviction(s) for crimes against the public administration (crimes committed by persons holding a public office);
  • Conviction(s) for acts of insubordination in relation to performance of national service;
  • Engaginged for the benefit of a foreign state, in acts incompatible with the quality of French national and commission of acts that are prejudicial to the interests of France.


Citizenship revoked

It's not a carte blanche to start committing crimes once you become French - anyone who meets any of the four above criteria can be stripped of their French citizenship, although French nationality may only be revoked if the following conditions are met:

  • You have acquired French nationality by naturalisation, ascendancy, or marriage. Anyone of French nationality by birth cannot be stripped of it;
  • You have another nationality. It is not possible to make a person stateless.


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