If you’ve moved to France and have lived there for more than three months, you must register yourself as a French resident. Here’s everything you need to know in order to become officially French.
Moving to France and registering as a French resident
You can do so at your local town hall (mairie) or préfecture. However, this process differs depending on your nationality.
If you are an EU/EEA citizen, you do not have to register yourself as a resident after three months as long as you have a valid passport. You do not need to apply for a residence or work permit for France either. This is as long as you are a student, employed/self-employed, unemployed (with sufficient funds), or are a family member of an EU citizen.
If you are unemployed, you will need to provide proof of sufficient income to stay in France long-term (i.e., a bank statement or pension slip).
If you are collecting social security in France, your eligibility depends on any benefit payments you’ve already made, the amount of time you’ve spent in France and the particular difficulties you are facing.
Applying for a residence permit is optional for EU/EEA citizens. You can apply for one if you wish -- it’s free and is valid for up to five years. You will need to bring your passport and proof of employment/self-employment.
Family members of EU/EEA citizens
If your family members (spouse, children under 21 or dependent parents) are non-EU/EEA citizens, they are allowed to move to France with you, but will need to apply for a resident permit, or carte de séjour. This needs to be done at the préfecture in the first three months of arrival.
They will need to prove their relationship to you (birth or marriage certificate), supply proof of health insurance, and proof of employment or sufficient funds to live in France.
They should receive their permit (membre de la famille d’un citoyen de l’Union) within six months. The permit is free and is valid for up to five years. It must be renewed two months before it expires.
What about Brexit?
At the moment, UK nationals living in France still retain their status and rights. However, it is still unclear how they will be affected and how the status will change once the UK leaves the EU.
It’s recommended that UK nationals apply for a French resident permit now, to make things easier in the future, no matter the outcome.
Non-EU/EEA citizens looking to obtain a resident permit (carte de séjour) will typically need to apply for one within the first three months after arriving in France at the local préfecture.
But check what your long-stay visa says. If you see carte de séjour à solliciter, you'll need to apply for a carte de séjour within two months of moving into France. If your visa has "CESEDA R.311-3," you'll have to apply for one as soon as you land.
You will need to provide sufficient documentation in order to apply. These include things such as your passport, birth certificate, proof of address in France and three recent ID photos. You will also need additional information depending on what your status is.
- If you are employed, you will need to show proof of employment, which can be a copy of your contract or a confirmation of recruitment from your employer.
- If you are self-employed, you will need confirmation of your self-employment status.
- If you are a student, you will need to provide proof of enrollment at an approved school. You will also need proof of health insurance, and proof that you have sufficient funds for the duration of your stay in France without income.
- If you are on a pension, you will need proof of health insurance and proof that you have sufficient funds during your stay in France and do not need income.
The application costs range from €79 for students to €269 for employed adults.
Submitting your French residency application
Once you’ve applied, you’ll receive a récépissé, which confirms your status as a resident and allows you to stay in France while your carte de séjour is being processed. If this is your first time applying, you cannot leave the country until you receive your full permit.
Applying to become a permanent resident in France
If you are eligible for permanent residency in France if you’ve lived in the country for at least five consecutive years.
You can apply for a permanent residence document that outlines your rights to live in France permanently. You will need to prove your residency by showing documentation such as your tax returns to the relevant French authorities.
If you’re an EU/EEA citizen and have obtained permanent residency, you have the option of holding the "EU permanent stay – all occupations" permit (UE séjour permanent, toutes activités professionnelles).
Family members of EU/EEA citizens must apply for the above-mentioned permanent residency card. They must apply two months before their carte de séjour expires.
They also must still satisfy the requirements of their residency, as when they first applied for it. If you divorce your EU spouse or they pass away, you can still retain this permanent residency permit.
Losing your residency permit You will lose your residency permit if you leave France for three or more consecutive years. You will then have to apply again.
Filing income taxes in France
Registering yourself as a French resident means that you will have to start filing your income taxes in France.
You must declare your tax return in May, the year after you’ve moved to France. You will be taxed on worldwide income and/or investments. Depending on which country you are from, you can avoid being doubly taxed if you let your home country know well in advance that you are filing in the French system.
Even if you are not making any income, you are still required to file a return stating that you do not owe any income tax.