On 9 October 2012, the leaderships of the parties making up the UDI parliamentary group announced the creation of a new political party and set up a temporary office in Paris. On 21 October, a founding assembly was convened at the Maison de la Mutualité in Paris, which marked the official foundation of the movement.
Following the congress of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) on 18 November 2012 and the ensuing tensions between the two rival candidates for the party's presidency, a number of leading figures of the UMP announced that they were joining the UDI, including former cabinet minister and deputy Pierre Méhaignerie and Mayenne deputy Yannick Favennec. However, during a legislative by-election on 9 and 16 December 2012 in the Val-de-Marne's 1st constituency, UDI incumbent Henri Plagnol - a former member of the UMP who had joined the UDI in June - was defeated by a right-wing dissident, Sylvain Berrios.
On 9 June 2013, the UDI gained a deputy (Meyer Habib) at the by-election in the Eighth constituency for French residents overseas, but this contribution was cancelled out by Gilles Bourdouleix's resignation from UDI after the controversy for allegedly saying Adolf Hitler had not killed enough Romani people.
The UDI became a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party on 2 December 2016.
Although the UDI leadership supported François Fillon in the 2017 French presidential election, several members of the party were supporting En Marche! candidate Emmanuel Macron.
The National Centre of Independents and Peasants was expelled after its leader and only deputy Gilles Bourdouleix's resigned for allegedly saying Adolf Hitler had not killed enough Romani people. The Centrist Alliance was excluded on 25 March 2017 as a result of its support for Emmanuel Macron; Territories in Movement left after the results of the 2015 regional elections; and the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD) was excluded from the UDI in December 2013. The Radical Party left after its reunification with the Radical Party of the Left to form the Radical Movement on 10 December 2017 (and therefore the Modern Left as well); on 16 December, The Centrists followed suit in announcing its intention to quit the UDI. The Democratic European Force is the last founding party to remain a component of the UDI.