For members


Reader question: Will a criminal record stop you getting French citizenship?

Among the many documents required in your application for French citizenship may be one confirming that you have a clean criminal record - but who is required to show this? And will any type of offence bar you from citizenship?

Reader question: Will a criminal record stop you getting French citizenship?
Having a criminal record may not stop you getting French citizenship. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

Question: I hear that during the citizenship process you need to provide proof of a clean criminal record – how do you do that? And does that mean that any offences – even parking tickets – would disqualify you?

During the citizenship application process, people who are applying through residency must, as well as passing language and integration tests, provide proof that they have no criminal record over the past 10 years.

READ ALSO The 6 steps to becoming French 

You can use the French government citizenship simulator HERE to determine whether you need to provide proof of your clean criminal record. 

How to prove you have a clean criminal record

First you need to prove that you have not been convicted of a crime in France, by providing your extrait de casier judiciaire. You can do that online, here

Depending on your criteria for citizenship, you may also need to demonstrate a clean record going back a maximum of 10 years.

That means contacting authorities in any other countries you have lived in during the specified period. 

People who were living in the UK, including Northern Ireland, need to apply for a Police Certificate from the Criminal Records Office at a cost of between £55 and £95, depending on how quickly you want the document. 

Anyone living in Ireland should apply for a Gardaí-issued Police Certificate. The form – available here – should be submitted to the Superintendent and/or Assistant Principal Officer in the Division where the applicant resides, or formerly resided. There is no charge for this document, which usually takes about three weeks to process.

In the US, contact the police department where you live or last lived, and request a clean criminal record document. Different states have different rules, but some require you to attend in person.

To apply for an Australian police certificate you must submit an National Police Check application form – available online here. A basic document costs AU$42.

The process for police certificates from New Zealand authorities is available here

What offences disqualify you from citizenship?

Citizenship applications are decided on an individual basis, but the good news is that getting a few points on your driving licence is unlikely to disqualify you.

Applicants must not have been convicted of a crime resulting in a jail term of more than six months, any offences that attracted a lesser penalty are decided on an individual basis.

However, anyone who has been convicted of a crime or offence that “breaches or attacks the interests of the French state” is likely to be refused.

Furthermore, those who apply for citizenship through residency – rather than ascendancy or marriage – also need to demonstrate “good moral conduct”, so this could disqualify people who have a long record of minor offences. 

What does that mean in practice?

Citizenship is highly likely to be refused to anyone who has;

  • Conviction(s) for acts against the fundamental interests of the nation, or conviction for serious and / or violent offences;
  • Conviction(s) for crimes against the public administration (crimes committed by persons holding a public office);
  • Conviction(s) for acts of insubordination in relation to performance of national service;
  • Engaginged for the benefit of a foreign state, in acts incompatible with the quality of French national and commission of acts that are prejudicial to the interests of France.

Citizenship revoked

It’s not a carte blanche to start committing crimes once you become French – anyone who meets any of the four above criteria can be stripped of their French citizenship, although French nationality may only be revoked if the following conditions are met:

  • You have acquired French nationality by naturalisation, ascendancy, or marriage. Anyone of French nationality by birth cannot be stripped of it;
  • You have another nationality. It is not possible to make a person stateless.

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For members


Working in France: What to know about getting foreign qualifications recognised

Foreigners, including Brits post-Brexit, looking to work in France may need to get qualifications or certifications from their home country recognised.

Working in France: What to know about getting foreign qualifications recognised

When might I need to get foreign qualifications recognised in France?

There are two main times when you might need your foreign diploma or qualifications recognised in France: when applying to study here and when applying for a job.

You will of course also need the proper visa or residency permit to work or study in France. You can find more information in our French visas guide.

Studying in France – If you are applying to study, then there is a good chance you will need an attestation de comparabilité, which would allow the French institution to understand your qualifications in a French context. Some universities and institutions do not require this, others do.

Campus France is also be a great resource to figure out what documents will need before applying.

If you want to start your studies in France (meaning entering the higher education system the first year of licence, or undergrad) and you are not an EU national, you may need to make a “Demande d’Admission Préalable” (Preliminary Admission Request). You can do this online with the Etudes en France programme.

To figure out if you’ll eventually need to provide an attestation de comparabilité, you should begin bygetting in touch first with your university of choice and asking if they will need a statement of comparability from the ENIC/NARIC centre (the body that issues the attestation de comparabilité).

You can also enquire directly at the ENIC/NARIC Centre by calling +33(0)1 45 07 60 00 or email them on using their contact form.

If you find that you need an attestation de comparabilité, then you can go to our step-by-step guide to how to request one.

READ MORE: How to get your foreign qualifications recognised in France

Keep in mind that the attestation is not a legal document, it is simply meant for the institution to be able to consult. 

Working in France – If you are applying for a job in France, there is also a chance you will need to show an attestation de comparabilité

The question will come down to whether or not your job is ‘regulated’. Non-regulated jobs are those that aren’t monitored by a central body affiliated to the French government, where it’s solely up to the employer whether to hire you on the basis of your experience and qualifications.

Think international sales executive, social media manager, SEO specialist… It is still possible your employer will ask to see proof of comparability, and for unregulated jobs, this can be done via the ENIC/NARIC Centre with the same process outlined in this guide. 

If your job is regulated – and keep in mind that some jobs in France are regulated when they may not be in your home country (eg hairdressers) – see below.

The third, and less common time, that you might need to get your foreign qualifications recognised would be when seeking French citizenship. 

If you completed your studies in French in another Francophone country, then you can justify your French level (above B1) using your diploma and an attestation de comparabilité. This exempts you from the requirement to take a French language exam as part of the citizenship process. 

What if I work in a ‘regulated’ field? 

To find out if you work in what France considers a ‘regulated’ field, go to this link. If you do work in a regulated field, it is still possible that you could be issued an attestation de comparabilité, but you should keep in mind that simply being issued a document proving comparability does not mean that you are clear to pursue the job. It’s simply a form the employer or profession would use to determine your qualifications.

The ENIC/NARIC Centre has a list of the fields they can issue attestations de comparabilité for here

Once you find the profession you are looking for, you can scroll down and read the segment on “professional qualifications”. This will lay out expectations for European nationals, as well as third-country nationals. If you do not see any explanation for third-country nationals, then that may mean you need to get further education or certification in France to do this job.

In most cases though, credential validation and comparability will not be carried out by France’s ENIC/NARIC Centre, but instead by the relevant association for each professional field. 

Find the relevant French association for your field, for example for doctors, or for architects, and get in touch. 

Health workers

Healthcare as a field is more complicated. It may be possible for you to practice medicine in France with a foreign degree, but you will likely need to go through an individual authorisation process that would require you to prove to the French government that your home-country degree matches French standards. You may also be asked to take an aptitude test, complete an ‘adaptation period’ (supervised practice), and demonstrate that you have a strong command of the French language.

You can find the documents you would need to provide under Article 3 of the French law on third-country nationals practising medicine in France.

What’s the situation for Brits since Brexit?

When it comes to Brexit, the gist is that your British qualifications are recognised in France if you registered them prior to December 2020 (the end of the Brexit transition period). 

Most EEA countries, including France, do not automatically recognise UK qualifications now that the UK has left the EU. This includes previous qualifications that would have been automatically recognised amongst EU countries, like for midwives.

This rule also applies if you hold a “European Professional Card” that was issued prior to December 31st, 2020. This would still give you recognised qualifications to work as a “general care nurse, a pharmacist, physiotherapist, mountain guide or real estate agent”.

If you did not go through the process to have your qualifications recognised before December 2020 – even if you were living in France at that time and are covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement – then you will have to go through the same process other third-country nationals, which is outlined above.