Moving to France: French values, integration classes and pension questions

Emma Pearson
Emma Pearson - [email protected]
Moving to France: French values, integration classes and pension questions
Newcomers in France may now be required to agree to respect the 'values of the French republic'. Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP

Moving to France can be a daunting process. Fortunately, our newsletter is here to answer your questions - this week we look at the requirements for new arrivals to agree to respect 'French values', the situation for people with a French spouse and the pension situation for Brits.


Here at The Local we're an Anglo-American team living in France - which means all of us have been through the simultaneously exciting and terrifying process of moving countries.

Our new newsletter is aimed at people who are in the process of moving, have recently moved and are still grappling with the paperwork or perhaps are just thinking about it - and we'll share a monthly selection of practical tips. Our team is also available to answer questions from subscribers to The Local.

Integration classes

France passed a new immigration law in January which adds a language requirement for certain types of residency cards. This won't immediately affect new arrivals, however, as it's intended by people applying for long-term residency cards which usually happens after around five years of living here (although the exact time-frame varies depending on your personal circumstances - full details here).

But one aspect of the law that will affect new arrivals is the requirement to agree to 'respect the values of the French republic'.

For some people this will simply be signing a form saying that you agree, for others it will involve taking 'integration classes' on France and its politics, history and culture. 

Explained: Who needs to do France's new integration classes?


French values

For those who just need to sign the form it's a fairly simple admin task - but what are you actually agreeing to?

'The values of the French republic' might sound like a fairly vague phrase, but in fact these values are carefully defined in the country's constitution and have all sorts of practical daily application from state-funded healthcare to gender equality policies and what kids can wear in schools.

What are 'French values'?

Having a French spouse

If you have a French partner or spouse then things get simpler in immigration terms (although contrary to what some believe, being married to a French person does not mean that you don't require a visa or residency card, it just means a different and usually somewhat smoother immigration process).


You may also be entitled to apply for French citizenship through marriage - although even here there are conditions that need to be met and you will still need to get together a big file of documents in order to make your application.

Am I entitled to apply for French citizenship?

Once the application has been made the next step is simply waiting as citizenship is not a quick process. Which is why I fear that this columnist who claims she will 'apply soon' in order to get a French passport by October may be a little, er, optimistic . . .

How long does it take to get French citizenship?

If you're not married but have been pacsé (entered into a civil partnership) in France, then the rules are somewhat different. 

Ask the expert: Immigration laws for pacsé couples

Pension questions

And a significant portion of the people planning a move to France are Brits who intend to retire here - and there are many reasons why this is a great idea which many people do successfully.

However, before you plan the move you need to think carefully about your pension arrangements. Dull, certainly, but vital in order to ensure that you have enough money to keep you in pain au chocolat once you get here.

We asked a financial adviser to outline the six key questions that everyone should ask themselves before moving.


The Local's Reader Questions section covers questions our members have asked us and is a treasure trove of useful info on all kinds of practical matters. If you can't find the answer you're looking for, head here to leave us your questions.

Bon courage !



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