Permanent residence in France
When you have been in France for five years – or three years if you are the spouse or family member of a French citizen – you can apply for a permanent residence card. If you meet the requirements, you will receive a residence card that allows you to stay in France indefinitely and access most public services.
The card is a common alternative to French citizenship for foreign nationals seeking to settle in France. Residents of the European Union (EU) or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) may choose to apply for a residence card, but it is not mandatory. EFTA is a free trade area that includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Conversely, non-EU/EFTA residents must apply for a residence card if they wish to settle in France.
The only exception to this rule is Algeria. Permanent resident cards are not available to Algerians; Instead they will get a 10-year residence certificate
Difference between citizenship and permanent residence in France
There are some similarities between permanent residence and French citizenship. Both require that you have lived residence in France for three to five years and have integrated into French society. For example, you need sufficient knowledge of the French language (at least A2 level).
Furthermore, the benefits of permanent residency and citizenship include:
- The right to study, take up employment and start your own business residence in France
- Access to welfare benefits and the French public healthcare system
- The right to buy and mortgage property residence in France
- Freedom to move, leave and re-enter France
There are also some significant differences. For example, French citizenship means you will be able to:
- Get a passport and travel the world as a French citizen
- Vote in all French elections and stand for public office
- Go out of France for an unlimited period of time
That said, for some, permanent residency may be more appropriate than full citizenship, for example, if your country does not allow dual citizenship (eg, the Netherlands). As such, you have to renounce your original citizenship or remain a national from your country to become French.
Types of residence cards in France
There are three types of permanent resident card in France:
- Ten-year resident card for foreigners (carte de resident de 10 ans d’un étranger): Valid for 10 years, this resident card allows both EU/EFTA and non-EU/EFTA citizens to residence in France.
- Long-term EU resident card (carte de resident de longue durée-UE): Non-EU/EFTA citizens can apply for a long-term EU resident card that allows them to stay residence in France for up to 10 years and visit most other EU/EFTA countries. can Visa free countries
- Permanent resident card (carte de resident permanent): Both EU/EFTA and non-EU/EFTA citizens can obtain unconditional and permanent residence in France (as long as your behavior does not pose a threat to public order and security). You can only get this card after you have a 10-year resident card or a long-term EU card.
A permit is usually valid for 10 years, but you can renew it indefinitely. That means you can stay residence in France until you renew your card.
A permanent resident card should not be confused with a temporary resident card, which is:
- Residence permit (Visa de long séjour valent titre de séjour, VLS-TS): This visa allows you to stay residence in France for one year and can usually be exchanged for a longer permit after it expires.
- Temporary Resident Card (Carte de Séjour Temporaire): Valid for five years and renewable three times
- Multi-year resident card (carte de séjour pluriannuelle générale): This resident card is usually valid for four years and comes with a family visa-like visa.
Ten-year resident card for foreigners
The 10-year resident card (carte de résident de 10 ans d’un étranger) is a long-term resident card for non-EU/EFTA nationals who meet certain requirements.
You must be at least one of the following:
- The spouse of a French national for at least three years (or one year if you are a Tunisian citizen)
- residence in France on a family visa and have lived in the country for at least three years
- The parent of a French child who has lived residence in France for at least three years
- The child of a French national, aged 21 or younger
- The dependent parent (in-law) of a French national
- A refugee or have been granted humanitarian protection residence in France
- The holder of a French disability pension due to a work-related accident or illness
- The victim of domestic violence, human trafficking, or sex work
- A vet of the French army or have served in the Foreign Legion for at least three years
- A young person who is eligible for French citizenship by birth but doesn’t want to have the French nationality
- A retired person residence in France
How to apply
Applications can be made through your local préfecture or the police préfecture in Paris. You’ll need to apply within two months of your existing visa or residence permit expiring.
Typical documents that you will need to provide are:
- A valid passport or photo ID
- Three passport size photographs
- Proof of address (eg, recent utility bill)
- Your current visa or residence permit
- Proof that you complete any required residency period
- Evidence that you meet the criteria for your application (eg marriage certificate, birth certificate, or refugee status
- Proof of French nationality of anyone linked to your application
- Certificate in French (at least A2 level) to demonstrate that you meet the French language requirements
- Proof of integration into French society (eg, signed Republican Integration Agreement)
- Medical certificate from the French Office for Immigration and Integration (L’office Français de l’immigration et de l’intégration, OFII)
Note that these documents must be provided in French or English. Other languages need to be translated into French with a service like Lingoking.
Of course, some applicants do not need to meet language or integration requirements, such as children of French citizens or military veterans, for example. Refugees, victims of violence or human trafficking, and people on disability pensions are also mostly R.
The standard cost of this permit is €225, and some discounts apply:
- €75 for holders of a French disability pension
- €25 for refugees and army veterans
- Free for victims of domestic violence, trafficking, or pimping
The fee needs to be paid with tax stamps. A tax stamp proves that you paid the tax (e.g., the ones you see on a bottle of wine).
Renewing your card
When your card is set to expire, you can renew it at your local préfecture or the police préfecture in Paris. In all cases, the renewal is €225. You can also decide to switch to a long-term EU resident card or a permanent resident card.
Losing your permanent residence rights in France
Your permanent resident card is valid for 10 years. However, you may lose your card if you:
- Leave the country for more than five years without returning (three years if you have a 10-year long-term resident card)
- Commit a crime, a crime or an act of terrorism that the authorities consider to be against the interests of the French nation
When you lose your right to permanent residence in France, you can reapply as soon as you are eligible again (ie, wait five years or have your record expunged).
What can you do if your application is rejected?
If you want to appeal a rejected application or if you have not received a response within four months of submitting your application, you can ask for an administrative review from your local prefecture or the Ministry of the Interior. You need to file this request within two months of the decision, or within six months if you have not received a response.
If you are unhappy with the outcome, you can raise your appeal to Administrative Justice (Justice Administrative) within two months of receiving your decision. Both asking for a review and appealing to the court are free. However, you may need to pay legal fees if you hire an advocate to represent you.
- French Office for Immigration and Integration (L’office Français de l’immigration et de l’intégration – OFII) – the French office in charge of immigration
- Ministry of the Interior (Ministère de l’Intèrieur) – The government ministry responsible for residence permits in France
- Service-Public – French government website with information on French residence and residence cards
- Lingoking – Translation agency for private clients
- Justify – A website that connects individuals, professionals and advocates