The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State

No. 345

Sir: In continuation of my despatch No. 243 of December 30, 1936,48 furnishing information regarding questions arising out of dual nationality, with particular regard to difficulties encountered by American citizens at the hands of the military authorities when visiting France, I have the honor to convey herewith further information on the subject.

I—Article 9 (1) of the Nationality Law of August 10, 1927

The Embassy has received from the Foreign Office a note dated January 11, regarding the interpretation of Article 9 (1) of the Nationality Law of August 10, 1927. It would appear from this note that a French citizen automatically loses his French citizenship, [Page 312] as a result of his naturalization in the United States without the authorization of the French Government, only if his naturalization takes place after the running of the ten-year period mentioned in Article 9 (1).

This interpretation of the note in question in confirmed by information previously furnished by the Foreign Office. (See last paragraph on page 5 of despatch No. 166 of December 2, 1936,49 and page 4 of despatch No. 243 mentioned above.50)

A copy and translation of the Foreign Office note are enclosed herewith.51 A copy of the Embassy’s communication of December 15, 1936, to which the note is a reply, is also transmitted herewith to complete the Department’s files.51

It appears further from the Foreign Office note of January 11 that a person naturalized before the end of the ten-year period, can not divest himself of French nationality unless he obtains during that period the authorization of the French Government. In other words, if that person does not apply for and obtain the required authorization before the termination of the period in question, he “can not legalize his status by an authorization received after this period”. Moreover, this interpretation of the last sentence of the note has been orally confirmed by the Foreign Office.

II—Decree-Law of October 30, 1935

It will be recalled that this Decree-Law provides for exemption from military service for French citizens residing in certain regions outside of France. (Enclosure 17 to despatch 166 of December 2, 1936.52) The Embassy has long been endeavoring to procure information as to the formalities a person residing in the United States must fulfil in order to visit France for the period set forth in the Decree-Law. Although a second note on the subject, dated December 31, 1936, has been received from the Foreign Office, it does not furnish the information sought (Section I-b of enclosure 19 to despatch 166), merely stating that, insofar as the United States is concerned, the exemption in question “is full and complete”.

However, an official of the Foreign Office today orally advised the Embassy in the sense desired. He stated that any resident of the United States who is at once of American and French nationality and who is entitled to benefit by the provisions of this Decree-Law, should apply to the competent French consulate for a letter to be carried with [Page 313] him when in France. The letter should set forth the fact of the residence in the United States of the person concerned for the required period; and state in substance that, being exempt from military service under the Decree-Law of October 30, 1935, he may return to France for the length of time provided by that enactment, without apprehension of encountering difficulties at the hands of the military authorities. Since the length of the visit permitted in France varies according to the circumstances (see the Decree-Law), it would be well for the letter to mention the exact period of sojourn authorized, in order to avoid misunderstanding and possible serious difficulties.

The Foreign Office official added that such a letter is not to be considered as a sauf-conduit, the latter document being issued to none other than a person having an irregular military status, whereas a person proceeding to France for a visit under the provisions of the Decree-Law in question is in good standing.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Edwin C. Wilson

Counselor of Embassy
  1. ibid., p. 137.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1936, vol. ii, p. 136, paragraph beginning, “In reply to these questions.”
  3. Ibid., section entitled “Article IX (1) of the Nationality Law of August 10, 1927.”
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Enclosures to despatch 166 not printed.