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I was born in Djibouti and my father was born before the independence. We have helped him reclaim his French citizenship and now it seems that he is giving us the cold shoulder.

We found out that he never filled out our birth certificates with the embassy and he has no intention of doing so. I was able to dig deep and found copy of his passport and RMI registration. He put down single with no kids. We have our birth certificates issued by the local courts, indicating that he is our father.

How can I legally declare that he is our father or can we file the papers ourselves? He is not willing to file our birth certificates with the consulate and I am not holding my breath. I would like to know if there is way to force his hands.

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    Disclaimer, I'm not a lawyer, so you should check with another source. However, as a French citizen, I think you should attempt to contact the French exterior ministry (also called Quai D'Orsay) to check with them how to claim your nationality. You should also check with authorities in Djibouti to see whether there is a legal requirement for your father to have registered you as a citizen of both countries, but I suspect there isn't. You may also want to start the online procedure to claim a copy of your birth certificate since you can explain your case there and they'll contact you. – ChrisR Jun 15 '16 at 23:42
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    @ChrisR Online copy of what? If the father never made any effort to inform the French authorities about his children, there would be no French birth certificate and the Service central d'état civil is unlikely to be very helpful. Same thing for the ministry of Foreign Affairs. In general, you are supposed to contact the local consulate but they have limited willingness/resources to help people in that situation, it's mostly up to you to provide the right documentation. – Gala Jun 16 '16 at 6:59
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    You said you have one of his passports, is it a French passport? Also, you wrote he “reclaimed” his citizenship, how did he do that (what procedure/what basis)? Was he French when you were born? – Gala Jun 16 '16 at 7:01
  • I am not sure I will be able to provide an answer but here a few useful links, for reference: Déclarer la naissance d'un enfant à l'étranger, requirements for a Certificat de nationalité française – Gala Jun 16 '16 at 7:05
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In theory, there is no requirement to register anything with the consulate and you don't need your father to file anything for you. Doing that immediately after birth makes a lot of things easier down the line but does not per se change your citizenship.

You need to present good evidence of all the relevant facts and that might obviously be more difficult without his help but that's all there is to it. In fact, your father's testimony does not carry much weight, a friend of mine had a lot of trouble registering her daughter's birth because of some bureaucratic issue, what you really need is proper documentation, nothing more, nothing less.

Specifically, you need to establish that:

  • Your father is your father and you are his son. Legally speaking, your local birth certificate should be good for that, even if I personally know some French consulates making difficulties to accept some local documents – not a birth certificate in my case – for no good reason.
  • Your father was a French citizen at the time of your birth. His passport and birth certificate, while not incontrovertible proof of citizenship, are relevant here. And if his birth was registered with the Service central d'état civil (which, again, is not mandatory), as his son, you can even get an extract of his French birth certificate without his help. But you need to be sure that he was French when you were born. The phrasing of your question (“reclaim his citizenship”) initially threw me off but your last comments suggest he was already French then. Whatever the case may be, that's what you need to establish, his becoming French later on would be no good for you.
  • If relevant (if both of you have lived abroad for more than 50 years), that your father and/or yourself have had possession d'état at some point in the last 50 years (see, e.g., Grandfather served in the French army for 4.5 years: Can I get French nationality? for more details on what that means). Your father's passport is helpful for that (with the caveat that you only have a copy and that I have no idea how all this works with Djibouti, which hasn't even been independent for 50 years).

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