The Surprising Benefits of Living in a French Overseas Territory

French citizenship and tax-free living are not words you often see in the same sentence. France is a high-tax, bureaucratic country. Those who are wealthy with French citizenship often escape to places like the UK or Portugal to live a low-tax lifestyle.

I spent years living in the tax haven of Monaco. Monaco is a great choice for anybody who wants to be left alone by the state and hates taxes. Unlike other tax havens, it’s located in the heart of the action on the French Riviera. You can spend time in Monte Carlo and have a very active social life. There’s a never-ending stream of invites to balls, yacht parties, and other glittering events.

After a time, however, Monaco becomes a bit constrained. As well as the good things about Monaco, there are many disadvantages. It’s the 2nd smallest country in the world, and everybody has to live in expensive high-rise apartments. That’s why many are tempted to buy a more substantial property across the border in France.

It’s Dangerous for Monaco Residents to Have a Second Home in France

These ‘residence secondaires’ are palatial compared to the confines of a Monaco apartment. The problem is that you can’t live full-time in France while being a Monaco resident. It’s actually a very bad idea to buy a house in France (or any other high-tax country) while being a Monaco resident. You invite scrutiny from the French authorities while making it impossible to have any benefit from living in France, such as French citizenship.

 Numerous high-profile residents of Monaco have run into problems with the tax authorities in their home countries by spending more time there while pretending to live full-time in Monaco. Pavarotti and Boris Becker are notable examples.

Even more Monaco residents run into problems by staying full-time at their French properties while claiming to live in Monaco. I know of numerous people who’ve been subjected to dawn raids by the French tax authorities looking for evidence that they’re French taxpayers. Yes, living in France can be an expensive business for high-income people.

The other problem with living in Monaco for those of us who like to collect citizenships is that you’ll never get a Monaco passport. Not unless you get involved in a major project there or donate tens of millions to a favored local charity. Technically you can apply for citizenship after 15 years, but it’s never going to happen.

French Citizenship is Available in the Caribbean!

french citizenship
Shell Beach, St Barts

But there is a way to live in a glamorous billionaire’s paradise AND get a French passport after five years. Not only that, but it’s completely tax-free. Let me repeat, there is a way to live tax-free on French territory and get a French passport.

That brings us to the billionaire’s paradise of Saint Barthelemy, better known as St Barts. It’s a little-known fact that Saint Barthelemy was named after the younger brother of Christopher Columbus. It’s also not well known that St Barts is a tax haven for anyone who’s not French. You can even apply for a French passport after living there for five years. While the British Caribbean islands are well known tax havens, the French Caribbean islands are less known as being tax free.

You don’t become a full-tax resident of St Barts until you’ve lived there for five years. In the first five years on St Barts, you must pay tax on income received from France or St Barts. If your sources of income are not from France or St Barts, you can live there completely tax-free. In essence, St Barts can be a great choice for tax-free living, provided you’re not French. French citizens may be better off elsewhere.

Anybody with an EU passport can move to St Bart’s without any special residency visa. Citizens of other countries need a French visa that specifically mentions St Barts. We have detailed how to get a French visa here.

After five years living tax-free on St Barts, you can apply for French citizenship.

Other than the benefits of no tax and French citizenship, life on St Barts is pretty good. After all, it’s an island paradise with amazing French food and a great social life. Many of the French Riviera’s famous beach bars relocated to St Bart’s in the European winter. You also have connections to Europe and the US from the neighboring island of Saint Martin.

French Citizenship Can be Easy to Obtain

french citizenship
Get a French passport in as little as two years

France can be quite liberal about issuing French citizenship. There are many different categories. It can even be granted instantly for providing service to France. It’s long been known that French citizenship is bestowed on anyone who joins the French foreign legion. That would seem a bit of an extreme method to pick up second citizenship.

The problem for high-net-worth people is that they don’t want French citizenship. Living in France can be a burden for the wealthy. Living in St Barts circumvents this. We have outlined these methods in Second Passport Blueprint as well as other methods for obtaining second citizenships quickly at zero cost.

There are ways to get French citizenship in as little as two years of spending six months per year on French territory. If you’d like to learn more little-known tips and tricks for getting citizenships around the world, consider purchasing Second Passport Blueprint 2023. We also work on an individual basis with clients to help them get second citizenships and residencies, protect their assets and reduce their taxes. If you are interested, please get in touch here.

Also See:


How can you become a citizen of France?

There are numerous methods including citizenship by marriage, citizenship by ancestry and by residency.

How do I become a French citizen in 2 years?

Check out Second Passport Blueprint for more details

Does France allow dual citizenship?

Yes, France allows multiple citizenships.