My mother was born a French citizen in Algeria in 1952. She emigrated to the U.S. And was naturalized in 1970 or so. French law only permitted men to hold dual citizenship until 1973, at which point the law changed and recognized dual citizenship for both sexes.

As a result of the change in the law, my mother regained her French citizenship in 2003. This involved submitting all her documents to the government but I believe her citizenship was reestablished as she was both born to two French parents and on French soil (at the time of her birth).

I was born in 1979. After my mother lost her citizenship, but before my mother officially regained it due to the misogynistic law being struck down in 1973. The question is, as my mother was born French and never renounced hercitizenship, was her regaining of citizenship retroactive and was she considered to have been French at the time of my birth, and am I thus eligible for citizenship? My mother is telling me that the consulate is telling her that I am, but I am not sure they understood all the nuances and am looking for legal ground to stand on before working up too much enthusiasm.

  • 1
    If the consulate told you that you are then you should just apply for a French passport. Whether your mother's French nationality was restored retroactively would mosy likely depend on the 1973 law. Have you read it? Do you have a link?
    – phoog
    Sep 23, 2019 at 16:26
  • Useful info: losangeles.consulfrance.org/spip.php?article2864 The legal basis appears to be a 2014 court decision.
    – Relaxed
    Dec 20, 2019 at 9:25

1 Answer 1


The Certificate of French Nationality (CNF)

  • page is only offered in French (Web page translation)

The French nationality certificate is an official document used to prove French nationality. It indicates the legal provision according to which the plaintiff has the quality of French as well as the documents which made it possible to establish it.

Article 30 of the Civil Code "The burden of proof, in matters of French nationality, lies with the person whose nationality is in question".

Article 31 of the Civil Code: "The Chief Clerk of the Court of First Instance" has the sole capacity to issue a certificate of French nationality to any person proving that he has that nationality ".

Depending on your situation, please contact the following services:

If you are born and domiciled outside France:
75859 PARIS CEDEX 17
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 011 33 1 44 32 51 51
Fax: 011 33 1 44 32 92 81

For more information on this subject you can consult the Portal of the litigant: https://www.justice.fr/

If you were born in France: Court of Instance of your place of birth. If you were born in Paris and reside outside France: Court of Instance of Paris, Pole of the nationality, Service of the nationality of the French established outside France, Parvis of the Court of Paris, 75859 Paris Cedex 17.
If you are domiciled in France: Court of Instance of your place of residence.

Requests must be made directly to one of the courts named above and accompanied by the documents listed in the attached list of attachments:

Link to pdf with application form and list of needed documents (in French)

The Consulate General of France in Washington is not competent for the processing of CNF files.

Please note that the deadlines for obtaining a French nationality certificate can be very long and it is useless to contact the nationality department of this consulate which is not authorized to intervene in this type of procedure.

Based on this information, you must apply for this certificate.

  • if it is issued, then it is proof of Citizenship
    • upon which a Passport can be issued
  • if not, then you are not eligible

Fill out the form from the link and supply requested documentation.

Supply certified copies of your mothers documentation about the regaining of citizenship and a letter (in French) explaining the situation and that you are a child claiming citizenship based on your mother's (regained) citizenship.

With that the situation should be clear and you will recieve either a yes or no answer.

  • 1
    It seems though that OP wants to know what the law says before trying to assert French nationality. This is all the more important given that the burden of proof rests on him.
    – phoog
    Sep 23, 2019 at 16:29
  • @phoog that will depend on whether the mother also registered her children during the process of regaining her citizenship. Making the CNF application is the best and simplest way of making a final determination. Sep 23, 2019 at 16:49
  • The statement about registering children sounds like you've read the relevant law. Do you have a link for it?
    – phoog
    Sep 23, 2019 at 16:56
  • @phoog no just looked at Wikipedia. In some areas it is complex. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_nationality_law Sep 23, 2019 at 16:59
  • One should do what the Embassy says and that is make the application. Sep 23, 2019 at 17:01

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