Residency permits For Members

Explained: What exactly is France’s carte de résident?

The Local France
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Explained: What exactly is France’s carte de résident?
(Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP)

It might seem like a general term for any type of residency card, but France's 'carte de résident' is in fact a specific document that is only available to certain people.


If you are a foreigner living in France – and you do not hold European or French citizenship – then you need to hold some form of carte de séjour (residency card). 

There are many types of carte de séjour, depending on whether you’re living in France as a professional, a visitor, or a student, for example. 

When people speak of a ‘carte de séjour’, they could be referring to any one of the types of cards that can be issued.

You might also hear the term titre de séjour - technically 'titre' refers to the right of residency and 'carte' refers to the physical card that proves the right, but the two terms are used fairly interchangeably.


Each type of card confers specific rights, with different validity periods before needing to be renewed, and there’s another  specific card for Britons resident in France before Brexit. 

READ ALSO Visas and residency permits: How to move to France (and stay here)

While it may sound like a similar generic term, the 'carte de résident' is a particular type of ‘carte de séjour’ that is only available to certain people.

So what is the carte de résident?

The headline aspect of the carte de résident is its offer of stability - it lasts for 10 years, giving the holder long-term residency in France.

It's also not linked to your status (eg worker, student, retiree) - once you have the card you can keep it for 10 years, even if your reason for being in France changes (for example a salaried employee goes freelance).

The card can, however, be invalidated if you spend too long outside France - more on that below.

Because they give a good deal, these cards are more difficult to come by, and conditions for getting them are strict.

They are normally given to long-term residents in France, and in most cases you must have been a resident for at least five years (although falls to three years for some groups).

You can also apply for it if you have family ties in France, if you have rendered services to the French state, or if you benefit from international protection.


There is also a language requirement and you must be able to speak decent French. This is not a new requirement, but the new immigration law has raised the level required - previously French of at least A2 level was required for a carte de résident, not that level is B1.

Certain groups can be exempt, including those over the age of 65 (more on exceptions below).

Similarly, most people applying for the carte de résident will need to sign the republican integration contract, provided by OFII and typically awarded after taking a round of civics courses. Due to changes from the latest immigration law, a civics and culture exam will become part of this course, but the implementation date was not yet clear as of February 2024.


You can find more information here.

READ MORE: Your questions answered: New French language requirements for foreigners

UK nationals who lived in France prior to 2021 - and are therefore covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement - have a slightly modified regime when it comes to the 10-year residency card.

Those covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, and their family members, have a special Brexit card known as the WARP or Article 50 TUE. This can be renewed by showing proof of continued residency in France - without the need for a language test.


Types of card/qualifications

Your reason for moving to France matters as it determines the type of residency card you can obtain prior to getting one of the holy grail, long-term carte de résident.

For Tunisians and Algerians, there are also some exceptions or changes to the requirements outlined below.

In the vast majority of cases, you must be resident in France for either three or five years to get a carte de résident, but there are some groups who can qualify sooner, and in some cases, immediately. 

These groups are not required to show a language level, as they are not required to include the republican integration contract in their application. They include;

  • Foreign children of French nationals (either aged 18-21, aged 16-18 and wishing to work, or dependents)
  • Dependent parents (and step-parents) of French nationals 
  • Refugees and foreign family members (including spouses, children under 19, and parents, if the refugee is a minor) 
  • Young foreigners eligible for French nationality via droit du sol (you must have been resident in France for at least 5 years since the age of 11 and you must have been resident in France when you turned 18)
  • Beneficiaries and families of beneficiaries of French benefits related to a workplace accident or occupational disease (at a disability rate above 20 percent). This also applies to beneficiaries collecting a 'rente de décès' (death pension) related to a workplace accident or illness.
  • Victims of human trafficking
  • Holders of the retraité residency card, not to be confused with the 'visitor' card. This title specifically refers to people who previously resided in France on a carte de résident (it also includes those who held the pre-existing three year residency card). People in this group must benefit from a French pension.

The next group of people eligible for the carte de résident are those who can request it after three years of consecutive residency in France. People in this category must sign the republican integration contract and demonstrate at least a B1 level (as of 2024) in French. This includes;

  • Spouses or children (under 19) of a foreign national holding a carte de résident 
  • Spouses of French nationals 
  • Parents of French minors (who have held the carte de séjour vie privée et familiale for at least three years)

Finally, the majority of other foreign residents in France who did not fit the categories listed above can become eligible for a carte de résident after five years' consecutive residency in France. This carte de résident has a specific name - the carte de résident de longue durée-UE (étranger en France depuis 5 ans).

Unfortunately, only certain statuses count toward your accrual of five years. The following cards can be considered;

  • Carte de séjour visiteur (visitor status)
  • Carte de séjour temporaire/pluriannuelle vie privée et familiale (family and private life cards, both one-year and multi-year statuses)
  • Carte de séjour temporaire/pluriannuelle salarié (salaried worker card, both one-year and multi-year statuses)
  • Carte de séjour temporaire/pluriannuelle entrepreneur/profession libérale (self-employed status, for both one-year and multi-year cards)
  • Carte de séjour pluriannuelle passeport talent (multi-year talent passport card holders)
  • Carte de résident

This means that posted workers and students generally cannot count the years they were on such statuses for their 'five-year minimum'.

Period spent out of France

Once you have a 10-year carte de résident, you can lose your right to permanent residence if you leave France for more than two consecutive years, which means you would have to go through the process of building up your right to a carte de sejour permanent all over again.

There are some exemptions to the absence rule, including serious illness, maternity, military service, study or research.

Generally speaking, if you hold a shorter-term carte de séjour, you should not spend more than a total of 10 months, or six months consecutively, outside of France, otherwise your right to a 'permanent' card may be held-up. 

If that all sounds very complicated, the government provides a handy online simulator - to see if you are eligible to apply for a 10-year carte de résident, click here.


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