In Né quelque part (an obscure French movie), the main character, a French citizen, is entering France illegally (on a boat with illegal immigrants).

I am under the impression that a citizen cannot be refused the entrance to their country - this is apparently the case in the US (I saw a reference to the relevant law in several forums) and for France I could not find any information about that (there is plentiful for aliens).

It it illegal for a citizen to enter their own country illegally (without going through an established border entry point, without proper papers, ...)?

I would be interested from the perspective if international law, or French if such a law does not exist (or any other interesting case)

Note: I am not challenging the fact that someone is temporarily detained for the time needed to check their nationality. I am wondering if a citizen can be prosecuted (probably afterwards, after they entered the country) for entering their country illegally.


1 Answer 1


It may very well be illegal, depending on the laws of the country. Most people have the right to enter their own country (except for practical problems, like not being able to prove you have the right) because you list your passport and/or other ID).

But it may be illegal to enter outside official border crossings, for example. Or illegal to enter without having the entry registered. Or soon, it might be illegal to enter the U.K. while avoiding quarantine, whether you are British or not.

But it wouldn’t be the fact that you entering that’s illegal, it would be how you did it. If you are the Dutch owner of a Ferrari then entering the Netherlands on the A40 from Germany at 170mph is very, very illegal :-)

  • Most people have the right to enter their own country (...) because you list your passport and/or other ID. Well at least in the US you cannot be denied entering, papers or not (you will be checked to make sure you are you). So it is not because you have papers that you can enter, it is because you are a citizen.
    – WoJ
    May 25, 2020 at 18:57

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