Acquiring French Nationality by Marriage

In the last few weeks, we have had an increasing number of requests relating to the acquisition of French nationality or other kinds of ways to live legally in France. Some mixed couples living in Hong Kong have suddenly decided to call it a day after months of demonstrations followed by the situation imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We face a similar situation in the United Kingdom following Brexit, couples either apply for settled status for the French spouse in the United Kingdom or start to look into moving their British family back to France.

In any case, it is always easier when one of the spouses is French, and this is the topic of this article.

You will at some point need a visa to live in France, so why not apply for French citizenship?

1. French citizenship

Applying for French citizenship is possible if

  • you are married to a French national;
  • you have been so for more than four (4) years if living out of France,
  • you can justify that you are still living together; and
  • you have an understanding of the French language and culture. You have to prove your level of French either by taking an official test or by presenting your diplomas or certificates.

It is a quite straight-forward process but does require some forward thinking since the whole process will take up to twelve (12) months.

You do not have to apply in France and can do so at the French Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence.

2. The long-term visa

In the meantime, if you need to go to France and reside there, you will have to obtain a long-term visa to be able to enter the French territory and reside there. The visa will be valid from four (4) to twelve (12) months. Once again this is quite a straight-forward process if you are married to a French national.

3. A resident card

If you plan to stay in France longer than a year, and you do not for one reason or another want to apply for French citizenship, then you can alternatively apply for what is called a resident card “carte de resident“, which is valid for ten (10) years, and is renewable. You can only apply at the prefecture of your place of residence in France.

If you have any questions or need assistance to apply for any of these documents, you may contact the author at

Sarah Jane Tasteyre is a French lawyer practising French family law in Hong Kong and in the United Kingdom, advising French nationals on their rights when living abroad.


This summary is for information purposes only. Its contents do not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for detailed advice in individual cases. Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between JC Legal and the user or browser. JC Legal is not responsible for any third-party content which can be accessed through the hyperlink provided in this summary.