Q&A: Ask the ex­perts

Our ex­perts give their ad­vice on ap­ply­ing for cit­i­zen­ship, mak­ing a will, and plan­ning per­mis­sion

Living France - - Contents -

FRENCH CIT­I­ZEN­SHIP

Q I’m Bri­tish and married to a French­man, and we live in the UK. Am I el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply for French cit­i­zen­ship as a re­sult of my marriage, or do we have to be liv­ing in France for me to ap­ply? If I am el­i­gi­ble, what would the process be to ap­ply? ANNE WIL­SON

Yes, if you are married to French na­tional you can ap­ply for French na­tion­al­ity. You must be able to prove that you have been married for five years and live to­gether. Be­com­ing a French cit­i­zen is a lengthy pro­ce­dure that in­volves col­lect­ing a mul­ti­tude of doc­u­ments. Doc­u­ments re­quired for sub­mis­sion in­clude the fol­low­ing:

An of­fi­cial copy of your birth cer­tifi­cate with apos­tille (Bri­tish na­tion­als can or­der an apos­tilled birth cer­tifi­cate on­line). Of­fi­cial copies of your par­ents’ birth cer­tifi­cates which your par­ents must re­quest them­selves. If one or both of your par­ents are de­ceased, you may be asked to sub­mit an of­fi­cial copy of a death cer­tifi­cate in­stead. Of­fi­cial copy of your par­ents’ marriage cer­tifi­cate or li­cence. Of­fi­cial copy of your marriage li­cence. Pho­to­copy of spouse’s ID (for­eign pass­port or French ID). Chil­dren’s birth cer­tifi­cates. Of­fi­cial copies of all the listed doc­u­ments must be trans­lated into French by a court-ap­proved trans­la­tor. The trans­lated ver­sions are valid for three months only, so it is a good idea to wait un­til you have col­lected the rest of your doc­u­men­ta­tion for your dossier be­fore get­ting the trans­la­tions done. You must also sub­mit two cit­i­zen­ship re­quest forms, which are avail­able on­line, a crim­i­nal record check and a form called Bul­letin No.3, stat­ing that you have no crim­i­nal record in France. You also need to sub­mit two ID pho­tos, a copy of the photo page of your pass­port and pho­to­copies of the front and back of your French ID card ( carte de séjour), if ap­pli­ca­ble. You’ll also need a tim­bre fis­cal in the amount of €55 (cor­rect at the time of writ­ing). Avail­able for pur­chase at tobac­conists, these stamps are worth the cash amount printed on them and are to be sub­mit­ted in a sealed en­ve­lope marked with your name.

You will also be re­quired to take a French lan­guage test at a gov­ern­men­tap­proved lan­guage cen­tre. Sub­mit a pho­to­copy of your test cer­tifi­cate with your dossier (you will be asked for the orig­i­nal at your in­ter­view with the pré­fec­ture). This test is not nec­es­sary if you al­ready have a diploma in French or a cer­tifi­cate stat­ing that you have passed recog­nised French lan­guage tests. If you are still learn­ing French, you may sub­mit an at­tes­ta­tion (state­ment) from a lan­guage school that is cer­ti­fied as a French lan­guage in­te­gra­tion cen­tre.

STE­FANO LUCATELLO

Q I am buy­ing a farm in France and have plans to turn it into a gîte. This cash pur­chase is solely in my name and I am us­ing funds from the sale of my UK prop­erty. Both my hus­band and I have new UK wills. My prop­erty will pass to my hus­band on the event of my death hap­pen­ing first but then on to my five chil­dren in equal shares af­ter his death. His share of his own UK prop­erty (of low value) is be­ing left to his three daugh­ters. My ques­tion is will these wills still stand in France? JU­LIA LLEWELLYN

TOP TIP If you have as­sets in both the UK and France, think care­fully when mak­ing a will

AIf the UK will pre­serves the re­served in­her­i­tance of your five chil­dren and it states that UK law is ex­pressly des­ig­nated as the cho­sen law by the lega­tee, it can gov­ern the suc­ces­sion of the French prop­erty.

This also means that if your UK will does not meet the re­quire­ments of French law, these pro­vi­sions will be void since the right of the chil­dren to a min­i­mum in­her­i­tance from the suc­ces­sion of their par­ents over­rides any dif­fer­ent pro­vi­sions. There­fore, the trans­fer of the prop­erty to your spouse be­fore your chil­dren in­herit may be con­sid­ered as a threat to their rights.

Should the UK will not be ap­pli­ca­ble to the suc­ces­sion of the French prop­erty, it will be French rule of law that ap­plies, there­fore the sur­viv­ing spouse would only re­ceive one quar­ter of the prop­erty in full own­er­ship, whereas your five chil­dren will share the other three quar­ters in equal parts.

To avoid any con­flict, I would ad­vise draw­ing up a will that pro­vides for the di­vi­sion of the own­er­ship of the prop­erty (un­der the French con­cept of ‘ démem­bre­ment de la pro­priété’) ac­cord­ingly be­tween your spouse and the chil­dren. More­over, in the case you have not yet signed the deed of sale, it would be use­ful to dis­cuss this op­tion with your no­taire as of now.

Fur­ther­more, be­cause of the un­cer­tainty about the fu­ture both with re­gard to Brexit and the cir­cum­stances in which your suc­ces­sion will hap­pen, a French will reg­is­tered in France would cover any out­come.

Un­der French law, you have two pos­si­bil­i­ties to draw up a will. Ei­ther you draft a will with a no­taire or you draft a fully hand­writ­ten will which must ful­fill three con­di­tions: firstly, that it is writ­ten en­tirely by hand, it is pre­cisely dated, and that it is signed. To avoid any risk of can­cel­la­tion or mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion, I ad­vise you to con­tact a le­gal pro­fes­sional to make sure that it is in com­pli­ance with French law. What­ever choice you make, please bear in mind that in any case the ap­pli­ca­ble tax regime will be the French one.

NATHALIE HAR­ROP

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