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I was born in the UK, my mother is British. My father is French and I did not have a lot of contact with him until I was in my 20s (I am now 40). He was not on my birth certificate and I was not 'recognised' as his son in France.

I now did the paperwork to get a new UK birth certificate issued with both names on, and my father recently had me offically recognised as his son.

Now comes the stage of trying to get hold of a certificate of nationality, but we have been told that I can't get one since I needed to be recognised as his son while I was under the age of 18.

Is this true and what can I do about it?

  • Who told you that you needed to be under 18? Have you tried researching this site service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/N111? – Traveller Aug 23 at 7:14
  • We were told by an official in Paris after submitting the necessary documents – tomosmarzin Aug 23 at 22:15
  • @tomosmarzin What kind of official? Someone working at the Pôle de la nationalité française de Paris of the Paris courthouse? – Relaxed Aug 24 at 9:38
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It seems to be correct, article 20-1 of the code civil provides that, to impact citizenship, parentage with their French parent must be established while the child is still a minor. Majority was already at 18 in France in 1999/2000 (it has been since 1974).

Whatever the case may be, the only course of action is submitting a request for a certificat de nationalité française. Even if that's not successful, it's important to submit it. Some official telling you you're not entitled to it or a verbal refusal (refus de guichet) doesn't help you, you want a formal decision with a written explanation to be able to properly evaluate it and possibly dispute it in front of the courts.

I recommend hiring a lawyer to:

  • Double-check whether this late recognition is an issue or not, no need to spend too much time and money if there is no way around that.
  • Review your initial request and make sure it's perfect, to avoid other issues during the procedure. You want it to have all the documents listed, with a certified translation if that's relevant.
  • Navigate the appeals should you fail to get the certificate and your lawyer sees a way to fight the refusal.
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    "A verbal refusal or some official telling you you're not entitled to it (refus de guichet) doesn't help you, you want a formal decision with a written explanation to be able to dispute it in front of the courts": this is really key. I've heard more than one story of people failing to pursue some benefit or other in a timely fashion because of advice from an official that they were not qualified, and then when they realized the official was wrong, it was too late. – phoog Aug 24 at 13:38
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    Wikipedia does say "Parentage to the parent from whom the French nationality is claimed, must be established while the child is still a minor (under 18)." I don't know whether there have been significant changes to French nationality law since 1980, and I haven't yet checked the current law. – phoog Aug 24 at 13:43
  • @phoog Yes, that's correct, found the relevant article in the code civil and I don't think it changed. I will edit my answer. – Relaxed Aug 24 at 15:00
  • With the article, I could find a bunch of precedents, it doesn't look promising. – Relaxed Aug 24 at 15:07
  • Regarding "it doesn't look promising": it would be a long shot, but there have been challenges to various provisions of Dutch nationality law on the argument that the provisions are inconsistent with some right or other guaranteed by EU law. This approach is of course well established in the US; I don't know how prevalent it is in the EU. It might be possible to make an argument along these lines concerning the "before 18" provision. That would, of course, be an expensive and slow process, but it would (as you state) need the formal refusal of a nationality certificate as its starting point. – phoog Aug 24 at 16:15

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