General Guidelines for Marriage and Civil Partnerships (PACS) in France

General Information and List of Documentary Requirements for Marriage or PACs in France

List of documentary requirements for marriage or PACs in France and FAQs:

Please contact the city hall where you will be getting married for the list of documents they require.  Most city halls mairies in France require some or all of the following documents:

  • a valid U.S. passport;
  • a certified copy of your U.S. birth certificate and divorce decree if applicable: To get a copy of a vital record, contact the vital records office in the state where the event occurred.  For more information, visit the website of the National Center for Health Statistics – CDC http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm
  • an Apostille which will authenticate the document for use in France: For information on how to obtain the apostille, please refer to this webpage : U.S. State issued documents
  • certified French translation: An official translation of your birth certificate and divorce decree if applicable.  A list of sworn translators is available at every mairie or on the Cour de Cassation website: https://www.courdecassation.fr/informations_services_6/experts_judiciaires_8700.html#experts
  • proof of domicile justificatifs de domicile: You or your future spouse will need to present two documents (i.e.: electricity or telephone bills, rent etc.) establishing that you actually reside in the district in which you intent to marry.
  • for a prenuptial marriage contract: a certificat du notaire is requried. If the parties to marriage opt for a prenuptial contract governing their respective properties régime du mariage the French notary preparing the contract will give the couple a certificate certificat du notaire which must be presented to the mairie.

The “Certificat de coutume and certificat de célibat ou de non re-mariage”

Each person much attest that they are single and any previous marriages or unions have been dissolved through death or divorce.  Since marriage records in the United States are managed by individual states, neither the U.S. Embassy nor any other federal authority can deliver a Certificat de coutumes or certificate de célibat for U.S. citizens.

To meet the requirements of the French government, U.S. citizens may instead sign an Attestation tenant lieu de certificat de coutumes or certificate de célibat attesting that they are free to marry or enter a PACS.

To meet the requirements of the French government, U.S. citizens may sign an Attestation tenant lieu de certificat de coutume et de célibat  (PDF-388 KB) attesting that they are free to marry or enter a PACS.This form does not require notarization by the U.S. Embassy.   If you wish to have your signature legalized you may do so at the local city hall – mairie –  with a valid U.S. passport.

If the mairie insists that the document must be notarized by the Embassy, you may make an appointment for a notary service at the U.S. Embassy in Paris or the U.S. Consulate General in Marseille or Strasbourg.  The consular fee is $50 per seal. Information on scheduling an appointment in Paris, Marseille or Strasbourg is available on the top of this page.

Types of Civil and Religious Unions in France

Civil Ceremony:  All marriages in France must be performed by a French civil authority, i.e., an officier de l’état civil, before any religious ceremony takes place.

Religious ceremony: A religious ceremony may be performed after the civil ceremony.  The minister, priest or rabbi performing the ceremony will require the certificate of civil marriage certificat de célébration civile as proof that the civil ceremony has taken place. In France a religious ceremony does not constitute a legal marriage.

The PACS offers all unmarried couples, same-sex and opposite-sex, a legal status carrying some but not all of the benefits of marriage.  The act defines the PACS as “a contract concluded between two physical persons who have reached the age of majority, of different or the same gender, for the purposes of organizing their life in common.”

A PACS is not equivalent to marriage under French law, and the U.S. does not recognize it as a marriage.  For further information on the PACS, please refer to any French consular website in the U.S., or the following webpages: http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/particuliers/N144.xhtml and http://ambafrance-us.org/spip.php?article331.

Same-sex marriages performed in France are recognized by the U.S. Federal Government and do confer immigration benefits.  If you need to know if your same-sex marriage will be recognized in your state and what documentation may be needed, contact the office of the Attorney General of your state of residence in the United States.

Couples married in France automatically receive a livret de famille (family history booklet).  This is an official document which serves as a record of a marriage and subsequent events in the family such as births, deaths, divorce, or name changes.  These events are all recorded as mentions marginales.

 


Frequently Asked Questions on Marriage and PACS in France

In order to be married or PACS in France, each person much attest that they are single and any previous marriages or unions have been dissolved through death or divorce.

Since marriage records in the United States are managed by individual states, neither the U.S. Embassy nor any other federal authority can deliver a “certificat de coutumes” or “certificate de célibat”for U.S. citizens.

To meet the requirements of the French government, U.S. citizens may instead sign an Attestation tenant lieu de certificat de coutumes et de célibat  (PDF-388) attesting that they are free to marry or enter a PACS.

The form is available for download here.

 

The form which is available on our website does not require notarization by the U.S. Embassy.   If you wish to have your signature legalized you may do so at the local city hall (mairie) with a valid U.S. passport.

If the mairie insists that the document must be notarized by the Embassy, you may make an appointment for a notary service at the U.S. Embassy in Paris or the U.S. Consulate General in Marseille or Strasbourg.  The consular fee is $50 per seal. Find all the information on our website pages.

The city hall mairie in charge of celebrating your marriage will be able to inform you.

You are not required to register your marriage in France with the U.S. Embassy.  However, if you plan on residing in France, we recommend that you register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so you can receive safety and security messages from the Embassy.

You may obtain an Apostille both on the marriage certificate and the certified translation from the competent Court of Appeal in France. A list of certified translators is available on the French Supreme Court Cour de Cassation website, and at any City Hall in France.

There is no equivalent of the French family history record booklets in the United States.

Orders of guardianship in the United States are issued by a judge.  The U.S. government does not have a centralized register of court orders.