For members


EXPLAINED: How to use France’s new online portal for citizenship

The French government has opened a new online system for foreigners applying for citizenship. Loire-based journalist and wannabe Frenchman John Walton takes a look at how to use the new NATALI citizenship portal.

EXPLAINED: How to use France's new online portal for citizenship
A woman celebrates becoming a French citizen in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron. (Photo by Michel Euler / POOL / AFP)

Since I’ve lived in France, I’ve by and large been impressed by the country’s digital public services, especially compared with the US and UK, and that was also the case with applying for nationality using the NATALI online portal

Submitting my dossier was an entirely digital process using the new nationality portal. Since there are many pathways to apply for nationality (marriage to a French citizen, descent from a French person, and so on), the website has a special simulateur widget that helps you narrow down the pathway suitable to you.

There’s also a specific simulation that then provides you a list of documents based on your situation.

As a célibataire, full-time employed salarié US-UK dual national homeowner without children, born outside France, applying based solely on five years of residence with the special Brexit-flavoured titre de séjour residence permit, mine narrowed down a total 15 documents I needed to provide:

  • Passport;
  • ID photos;
  • €55 in timbre fiscale;
  • Titre de séjour;
  • Birth certificate (plus approved translations);
  • Parents’ birth and marriage certificates (plus approved translations);
  • Casier judiciaire and overseas equivalents (plus approved translations);
  • House title (acte de propriété);
  • Tax returns (avis) for 3 years;
  • P237 bordereau de situation fiscale covering 3 years (available via the tax office);
  • Certificat de travail (this is an attestation from your employer, in the standard format “I the undersigned, Mme X of company Y at address Z, certify that Mr A of address B with Sécu number C, is employed as with a CDI as a job title D since date E, and he’s not on any probation nor has he resigned) 
  • Employment contract;
  • Last 3 pay slips;
  • Pay slips for November and December of the last 3 years;
  • Language qualification to at least B1 level

READ ALSO The ultimate guide for how to get French citizenship

As it turns out I wasn’t asked for an ID photo — perhaps because I have an existing titre de séjour. Note that you will also have to input your every one of your home addresses over the last 10 years down to the specific day that you moved in and out, although no documentary evidence was required online.

Best to ensure that you have that information to hand, and I absolutely plan to bring a couple of bank statements, utility bills and similar to my assimilation interview.

The site also asked for a recent proof of address — the usual phone bill seemed to suffice. I found that the key to making this simple is collating all the information you’ll need and figuring out what accompanying documentation (or, indeed, in the case of the language tests, what exams) you can upload to provide it.

Tips for the process

You can either create a new login or use a FranceConnect login from another government service (such as the health service’s or the tax office’s — I used the latter).

Pleasingly, this prefills all the information that the service already holds on you. I’m a millennial digital native with a reputation as a spreadsheet fancier, so I organised the process with a one-page spreadsheet to track the documentation. I also numbered each of the types of information, with a corresponding folder number on my computer, both for tracking and for the upload process.

That meant it took really only a few minutes to work through the submission site and upload my documents one by one. I plan to file the paper originals and printouts of these documents in a tabbed file when, fingers crossed, I’m called to the assimilation interview.

READ ALSO QUIZ: Could you pass the French citizenship interview?

I was very impressed by the uploading process: the site allows for multiple uploads at the same time (so you can select all of the payslips you’ve carefully put into a folder at once, for example) and file size limits are a very reasonable 10MB so there’s no need to resize your smartphone picture scans.

If you’re an iPhone user and have used your phone to scan pictures, they may be saved as HEIC files rather than JPGs. You’ll need to convert them (I used the Preview app on my computer) to upload.

I’d highly recommend having very clear filenames for your documentation, including translations — “certificat de naissance – mère – original”, “certificat de naissance – mère – traduction”, and so on — rather than leaving it as “IMG1234” or whatever.

I did this in French to make it as easy as possible for whoever reviews my file. Note also that where translations are needed that there is a separate upload button for translations.

I was glad that I’d had the foresight to add the word “traduction” to the names of these files!

Lessons learned

The time and effort in this process was mainly around squaring away my overseas documentation, which took a couple of months. Given that language exams are only held a few times a year, these is probably the first thing to arrange.

As someone with grade A French at A-level, who uses French on a daily basis in my local village, I popped over to my nearest centre for a morning of exams, and took the B1 level test. 

READ ALSO TEST: Is your level of French good enough for citizenship and residency?

Once you’ve booked in the language exam, start on your overseas documentation. This, especially from the UK, can be expensive, complicated and can take months.

(The UK’s police certificate website here is a particular shocker: it looks like it is a scam website, the processing time is outrageously slow and it only sends out physical forms. The French casier judiciaire version is free, online and immediate.)

By contrast, I found that securing every piece of French documentation, from the P237 form I’d never heard of, to the casier judiciaire police check that I’d never needed, all the way down to getting an electronic timbre fiscale, was easy, digitised, free and usually instantaneous.

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

Do take a good look at example documents to understand exactly what you’re being asked for before you apply for them from your country of origin, or where you may have lived over the past 10 years. For example: my parents’ marriage certificate from the UK didn’t include their dates and places of birth, just their ages at the time of marriage.

I found an excellent and very responsive local translator “agréé” (aka a translator “assermenté-e” or approved translator) from the official list of certified translators (provided). It is best to approach a translator at an early stage to ensure availability and check pricing.

They may also be helpful with some of the finer details of what documents are needed. Mine was happy to review, make minor edits to, and then stamp some earlier, non-agrée translations of several of my documents, which cut the cost somewhat.

READ ALSO How much does it cost to get French citizenship?

Overall, and certainly in contrast with the horror stories I’ve heard from friends applying for US and UK nationality, the process of submitting my dossier for French citizenship was simple, inexpensive and straightforward. If you’re not a confident online operator, you might find the website slightly overwhelming, but there is a national network of digital help points if you’re concerned. 

Now, I wait… Wish me luck at the interview.

Next steps

Submitting your dossier online is step one of applying for French citizenship, a process that takes on average between 18 months and two years. Find the full process outlined HERE

Photo: John Walton

John Walton is a joint US-UK national who lives in the département of Loire in central France. He works as a journalist specialising in travel and aviation and tweets as @thatjohn – find more of his work here

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
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.