Are there age restrictions on language tests for French nationality?

France’s new immigration law has introduced stricter language requirements for both nationality and residency cards

Age can have a bearing on the requirements for obtaining a French passport
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Reader question: I understand that people over a certain age do not require a French language test in order to become French. I am 87 and am a UK citizen but resident in France. What are the requirements?

There are situations where people do not have to undertake a French language test, and some of them are related to age, however there are other conditions.

These vary depending on whether you are applying for French citizenship through ‘naturalisation by decree’ or by ‘declaration’. The latter is for those with French family links or who were born in France.

If you are applying for the standard naturalisation route, for foreign people who have lived in France for at least five years, then you would usually have to take a test unless, for health reasons, your French cannot be evaluated and you have a medical certificate stating so.

One exception is people who have a diploma following studies in a French-speaking country; another relates to political refugees or stateless people, aged over 70, who have been living in France for 15 years or more with a valid residency card.

If you are applying by ‘declaration’, then if you have a French child or grandchild, you are 65 or older, you have been living in France for 25 years and you have no serious criminal convictions, then you can apply for French nationality without needing to prove a certain level of French.

There are certain other exemptions from the tests, such as if you have a French sibling and were schooled in France for a number of years, but they are unlikely to relate to you, and are not linked to age.

If you do not fulfil the above requirements and want to apply for French nationality, then you must demonstrate that you can speak French to a B1 level (intermediate), no matter your age.

This is set to change to level B2 (upper intermediate) by January 1, 2026 at the latest.

Read more: French language tests harden: what changes and how to know your level

Language tests for French residency cards

Under the new immigration law language tests are also set to become stricter for residency card applications, except in certain cases for those aged 65 and over.

Read more: What are France’s new language level rules to apply for residency?

If you are 65 and over and applying for a long-term resident’s card, then you do not need to prove your language proficiency. This will not change with the new law.

There are also other cards or permits that give the right to live in France without needing a language test, such as the Brexit WA card.

Read more

Updated: ‘Visas and Residency cards for France’ help guide

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