How to Get a Ten-Year Residency Card in France

I had originally planned to write this article earlier this year, but with my focus on submitting my citizenship application (more on that soon) and the fact that I wasn’t even two years into my new four year card meant that the administration would not have looked approvingly on a request for an “early” renewal just to transition to ten-year status. In any case, I’m happy that Chris, a new writer for TAIP, had recently gone through the process and has written the article I would have wanted to.

Eye rolls, heavy sighs, hand gestures demonstrating a sense of resignation: these are just a few of the non-verbal responses I receive when I discuss l’administration francaise (French administration) with my French friends. And for good reason; for many years, and still to this day in many tasks, the process of getting governmental approvals in France has not exactly been a model of efficiency. Ask me sometime about my experience of exchanging my Maryland drivers’ license for a French one. And if you want a French satirical take on the frustration of getting official business done, check out this clip.

While some French laws and processes seem to not have changed since the 17th Century, others have taken huge leaps into the 21st Century. When I first renewed my visitor visa back in 2019, there was an antiquated online appointment reservation system that could make even the calmest of souls go berserk. Back then, new appointment slots to apply for visa renewals at our local préfecture were supposedly opened online every Sunday at midnight. But without fail they would all be gone within nanoseconds, thus restarting another week’s worth of time and stress wondering if I would ever get an appointment. 

Long-Term EU Residency Card

Thankfully, the visa renewal process has received a much-needed facelift through a website that has made everything much more streamlined. A relatively intuitive online portal means it’s no longer makes it necessary to plan for an in-person appointment at the préfecture to submit the documents needed for a visa renewal

While the streamlining of visa renewals is a welcome development, an even greater sense of relief is open to those who have lived in France for a minimum of 5 continuous years: an EU long-term (10-year) residency card. With the submission of a few extra documents beyond what is required for a long-term visitor visa, a 10-year card can be delivered, of which the benefits go well beyond the freedom from the annual visa renewal process.

Besides the length of validity, the biggest difference, between a long-term visitor visa and the EU long-term resident card is that the ten-year card makes it possible for its holders to work in France. As a result, income is no longer limited to foreign salaries or other non-French employment sources. The other major benefit of the EU long-term residency card is that it allows its holders to legally stay in certain states of the European Union beyond 3 months without a long-stay visa.  Even better? You can be gone up to three consecutive years of the ten, and avoid being a fiscal resident during that time, if you wish.

The Application Process  

While the Étrangers en France website is intuitive for long-term visitor visa renewals, it is less so when it comes time to applying for a ten-year residency card. In fact, nowhere is it indicated that you can even apply online for an EU long-term residency card. I personally made the mistake of taking this to mean that I needed to print out and send my application, along with all the supporting documents, by mail, to the préfecture. However, when my application was sent back to me in its entirety, I learned that to apply for the coveted ten-year card, I had to go about it as though I were renewing my long-term visitor visa. The only thing I needed to do differently was to write in the comments box that I was requesting a 10-year residency card. (Do be careful however, as the EU long-term resident card web page seems to imply that in some cases applications need to be sent by mail. Be sure to check with your local préfecture.) 

The beauty of the EU long-term resident application process is that there are only two proofs required above and beyond what is needed for 1-year visitor visas: (1) proof of residency in France for 5 consecutive years and (2) a language proficiency exam. 

Proof of Residency

The documents required to show proof of continuous residency in France for 5 years are the applicant’s avis d’impôts sur les revenus (French tax returns). Simply log in to your espace particulier on impots.gouv, click on the documents tab and separately download each of your avis d’impôts sur les revenus for the past five years. 

Proof of Language

Applicants seeking an EU long-term residency card, must also have a minimum of an A2 level in French proficiency. There are three ways for applicants to prove their A2, or above, level of language proficiency: (1) a linguistic certification; (2) a diploma attesting a minimum A2 level in French; (3) a national diploma with a minimum level 3 of professional certifications. For more details, click here.  

Within a couple of weeks of submitting my application, I received a link to upload the proof of continuous residency and language proficiency documents. A small frustration came in the form of only being able to upload one document through that link. This added a small, but what felt like an unnecessary, step of collating all the pages together before uploading them.   

The Wait

As my long-term visitor visa was set to expire, I received, without having to request it, an attestation de prolongement d’instruction, a document which extended the validity of my visa. Accompanied by my long-term visitor visa, this attestation allows me to continue to reside legally in France and to freely travel within the Schengen area while my application for the EU long-term residency card is being reviewed.

It’s been three months since I submitted my application for the EU long-term residency card, and I am still waiting for it to be approved. With the fêtes de fin d’année (holidays) right around the corner, I anticipate that it will be well after the New Year until I receive word that my residency card has been granted. After five years of living in France as an adult (I spent the majority of my childhood here), I have begun to learn that the slow process of government approvals will work itself out in due time. So I might as well enjoy a bûche de Noël (Yule log) instead of stressing about when I will finally have my card in hand.  

To read more of Chris’ musings on international living, click here.

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18 thoughts on “How to Get a Ten-Year Residency Card in France

  1. Hey Chris,

    Lovely article. I had a quick question for you. So when you were living your 5 years on you long-term visitors visa every year when you went to renew did you submit pay stubs? If for example you didn’t have pay stubs what other types of documents work as proof of funds?

    • Hi Christa. Great question. For my application, I always submitted as many documents as I could, and more than were required. My salary comes from the USA, so I would always submit my three previous pay stubs, along with an employment letter in French stating my monthly salary and that I am on a Contrat de Travail à Durée Indéterminée (CDI), meaning that I have a permanent job contract. I also submitted my avis d’impôts sur les revenus (tax returns) for the previous year.

      For my wife’s application, since she doesn’t work outside of the home, I supplied the above documents along with an attestation de prise en charge, which states that I cover her living expenses with my salary.

  2. I need to renew my ten year residency card. I am not in France and would like to know if I can start the process and send the documents online. My card expires in two months … March 19,2024. Or do I need to go to the prefecture in France. I do not live full time in France but would like to keep my resident card in the event I move back to France one day. I am an American citizen

    • Hi Sheila. The renewal process requires a justificatif de domicile (proof of your residency at an address in France, typically shown through an electric bill in your name). Do you currently own or rent a place in France? If so, I would absolutely try to start the process online as you need to apply for renewal within two months of your current card expiring.

      Stephen, or others, may have more insights to share as well.

  3. Hi Chris, I’m American and received my ten-year residency card here two years ago in Montpellier where I had to go to Prefecture for the application process. It took six months until I received the card.
    My question: where exactly could I find the clause about being able to live in “certain states” in EU beyond 90 days without needing a long-stay visa from that state? Appreciate your help. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Judy. Follow this link and select the first drop down menu (What does the EU long-term residency card allow?). The third paragraph will show you which Member States of the EU allow a stay longer than 3 months.

  4. Hi Chris, thanks for your article! I’m wondering if you know whether it’s possible to apply for the 10 year card if you are not due for a renewal. I’m on a 4 year card, but only 1.5 years of the way through, but I’ve been here for over 5 years (2 years on a visitor visa, before changing to profession liberale for 3 years). Do I have to wait another 2.5 years until my renewal comes up or can I ask now, and if so how can I make the appointment (I’m based in Paris)?

    • Hi Claire, thanks for your question. Typically, you have to wait until your current card is up for renewal before request a new one. You should have a sufficiently grave and compelling reason to make the request early. For example, the 10-year card allows you to be off French soil for 3 years, so if you happen to have a terminally ill family member back home with whom you want to spend as much time as possible, the prefecture may consider your request. If you have such a reason, I would encourage you to reach out to your local prefecture to see if they can guide you further before going through the application process.

  5. Thank you for your article, it helps a lot. Currently I have completed my 5 years in France. My visa renewal will be in June, I have already received a date for my visa renewal as a 1 year extension. Because I was able to get an exam date in May. Can I apply for a 10-year residence permit immediately after receiving my 1-year extension, or do I have to wait for next year’s appointment? I would be very grateful if you could advise me on this matter.

    • If you have already completed five years, you are eligible to apply for a ten year card now. You should change your visa appointment to be for the ten year card instead.

      If you mean that you will complete your five years by June, then yes, you can apply one year from June when the one year-renewal comes up.

      • Thank you for your answer, yes, but I need to pass the A2 delf test to get 10 year card , but the test date does not meet my titre renewal appointment date. For this reason, do I have to wait for my next appointment in 2025 to get 10 years? Or can I request a 10-year extension before that appointment, Before 2025? Thank you

  6. Hi Chris, Thank you so much for your article. I am currently a US citizen married to a French Citizen. We got married in the US and have lived together since. (I have my Livret de famille for 8 years). My husband has registered as a French Person Living abroad. We are now moving to France together and I am seeking a 10 Year CDS as my first residence permit. Is this possible to get with my situation (As I understand the time we lived together in the US may count towards the 5 year requirement for nationality) and also which visa do I need to request before leaving the US to France? Thank you in advance for your help.

    • Hi Ingrid,
      Your question is outside of my expertise, as I can only speak to applying for a long-term residency card from the perspective of having spent five years on French soil. I will see if any of our other writers have any insights. Sorry, I’m not of greater help.

  7. Hi,
    I have a 4 years carte bleue européenne expiring in 2027. Can I apply for 10 years long term card with A2 level certificate before expiry of my current card.

    Thanks for your reply in advance.

  8. Hi Chris,

    I have an urgent question / i have a 10 year visa in France, which i renewed 2 years back, having lived here for 14 years in 2 streches of 7 years each. I am employed in France, however right now im getting a job offer in China. Can i move there? I know I can but the question is i have just thought about applying for my French nationality partly due to my lack of French language skills / assuming that i cross the language hurdle, can i still apply for Frency nationality even if i take up the China job?

    • Hello! Our team doesn’t have the capacity to answer this question, so I just sent an email (with you CC’d) to an immigration lawyer who we work with frequently. Hopefully he’ll be able to help 🙂

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