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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


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Reader Comments (48)

Yes, Mike. Most of my friends are naturalized, and they all had lived in France between five and twenty years before obtaining French citizenship. Keep in mind we all applied at different times; the process in the 80s, the 90s was nothing like what I did in 2010, and I've heard it has changed again since 2012. Seriously, though, you should be getting your information from official French government sources (like here: http://www.vos-droits.justice.gouv.fr/nationalite-francaise-11963/), not expat blogs (no matter how awesome they might be, lol!)
March 13, 2015 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
I live and work in France with dual citizenship. Do I have to pay US taxes?
March 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTed Lemen
I am a French and American national (dual) living full-time in the U.S. Do I have to pay French taxes on my U.S. income? I have no French income.
April 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPreston
I am french. I married an American in France then we moved to the US and had children.
I become American in 1995.
I did not renew my passport at the French embassy.
Can I renew my french passport now?
November 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarianne comme la France
Bonjour Marienne comme la France, I have no clue. Perhaps try your closest French embassy?
November 5, 2015 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
Why does the U.S. require you filing.? You don't live in the us. Isn't the U.S. the only country to do this? Has something to do with draft dodgers, etc... Crazy usa. No thanks.
November 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSara
We are French our great, great grandfather was guillotined in late 1770. His sons had to leave the country I assume they could of been next. If I can prove the family connection can I apply to live and work in france. And eventually get citizenship? I am currently a computer programmer with a wife and 2 kids. My french is very weak.
November 7, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbob danton
First I'd like to say your website is VERY informative. My dad was born in Paris in 1934 and thank God still alive and well. He's become a US citizen however I still have family in France, visit often and who knows maybe one day will live there. Since my dad was born in France, do I qualify for dual citizenship? Are you aware of any services that help with the paperwork?
November 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterFrank C

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