« Vintage Fair! | Main | Dita Drives them Crazy »

Becoming French, Part 1: The Question of Dual Citizenship

I get emails every week from Americans asking the same question: how can I live in France? That’s a long answer, and it’s actually different for each person depending on a lot of factors including who you’re married to and how you can support yourself. My own path has been quite circuitous since 1995: a year as a student, a few months of illegal alien status when the visa ran out, then marriage to an European Union citizen which gave me my 10-year carte de séjour allowing me to live and work in France.

But after living in France for 13 years, starting my own company, and paying a LOT of taxes, I’ve decided that I want more. I want to be able to take the “EU Passports Only” line at the airport. I want to be able to vote in local and national elections. I want to avoid having to reapply for my “carte de séjour” ever again. I want to be able to live and work anywhere in Europe (not that I’m leaving France, but it’s nice to have the option).

So this year I went to the Préfecture de Police on the Ile de la Cité and picked up the paperwork for the Demande d’Acquisition de la Nationalité Française

As expected, this quest for French nationality brings up all sorts of new issues for an American like myself:

Can I keep my American nationality? Yes, thanks to AARO, AAWE and FAWCO, Americans can now have dual nationality (this wasn't always the case).

Does this mean I don’t have to pay American taxes? No, you always have to pay American taxes as long as you’re an American citizen, ether you have dual nationality or not (although some of us don’t make enough money to “qualify” for double taxation).

Where does my loyalty lie? Well, to me that’s like asking to choose which child or which parent you love more. I’ve lived in France my entire adult life and it feels like home to me. But at the same time I’m very American and I still vote, file taxes, and visit on a regular basis. As I have said before, I feel like an ambassador of goodwill between the two countries, which I’ve made a career of with my writing and tours.

In fact, considering how much I do to bring American visitors into France, you’d think they’d just send me an extra passport in thanks. Mais non, Madame. There is paperwork to be filled out. Beaucoup de paperwork.

Read Part 2: Naturalization Paperwork


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (48)

Hi RG, The laws change all of the time, you're best contacting the French government directly with citizenship questions, but I'm pretty sure you can only get citizenship through parents (and even then there are some confusing requirements about residency for both the parents and the child).
October 21, 2011 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
I'm an American citizen born in France with a French birth ciertificate...what procedure must I take to apply for legal recognition? thank you for your help Susan
February 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermirta
Mirta, You need to go to the Bureau des Naturalisations, on the Ile de la Cité, rue Ursulins.
February 13, 2012 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
I have dual French/American citizenship. I currently live in the US and owe a rental property in Paris,
Do i pay taxes to French gov.from my rental income?
Is this considered exempt for IRS ( less than $82k) ?

I need some advice
March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterViki
Hi Viki,
Yes, you have to pay French taxes on rental income in France. Contact a tax specialist to help you do this.
March 25, 2012 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
I came to the US from France at the age of 14 in 1957. Since then I have become an American citizen. Does it mean that I have not retained my french citizenship? Or do I have a dual citizenship?
Thank you.
June 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterColette
Colette: You've been in the US since the 50s and you're asking *me* if you're a dual citizen? Do you have a valid French passport? You should probably contact the nearest French consulate or embassy for the answer to that question.
June 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
I do want to know where to pay taxes on a rental income we make in France ,i live in USA ,I am a US citizen and my wife is French/US.
Do we have to declare this income here and in France, do we have to pay taxes here and in France
September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterH
H: If you own property in France, you have to file taxes declaring it in France (in any case you owe property taxes, and if you skip paying them now, you'll get stuck with a nasty surprise bill if you ever get caught or try and sell the property). The USA also requires you to declare the income, but unless you make over a certain amount of money you shouldn't owe taxes in both countries (but to be clear, you still MUST declare the income to both countries' tax authorities, even if you don't owe any taxes...it's one of the hidden joys of American citizenship).
September 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
I was born in France. My father is a USA citizen. My mother French. My father was stationed in France when I was born. I have dual citizenship. Do I have to have two passports? And can I have two passports? I haven't lived in France for many years . Do I have any rights in France?
April 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.