GETTING MARRIED IN FRANCE

GETTING MARRIED IN FRANCE

If you are looking to get married in France to a French person or other, the steps you will need to follow are:

First of all, remember that there are two weddings in France, the civil one and the religious one. You are not required to get married religiously. But you cannot get married in a church without first having been married at the City Hall of the town in which you are resident in France. If you live in Paris, this will be at the Hotel de Ville of the arrondissement where you reside.

To get married civilly, you have to make an appointment to marry at the City Hall. To get the appointment, you have to furnish a number of documents and fill out some forms. These documents take time to acquire, so plan ahead, 6 months ahead!

You and your fiancé(e) will need two witnesses (four max) for your civil marriage. These are called les témoins. They will have to be present at the time of your civil marriage and sign the registrar.

The documents you will need are listed here.

Essentially they include:

  • ID for both parties plus copies back and front
  • Justification of residence for each party (gas bill, electricity bill, rental contract, etc) in the town or arrondissement where you want to get married
  • Copy of your témoins’ passport/ ID back and front
  • An official copy of Birth Certificate dated less than three months before date planned for the marriage for French people and dated less than six months for foreigners. (The best way to work with this timing is to go to the City Hall in advance and see when possible dates are available. Aim for one of those dates and get your paper work together as quickly as you can.)

If you were born outside of France, your Birth Certificate must have an Apostille attached to it. The latter is an official seal set forth by the United Nation which certifies it is real. Birth Certificates and Apostilles can be obtained from the Vital Records services in your home State or Province. Have this sent to you in France. You will need an official translation is the documents are not in French. Deliver the official Birth Certificate and Apostille to the City Hall.  A Birth Certificate alone will not be sufficient for foreigners. This is one company that does official translations, but your Embassy will also have a list on their websites.  Here is a list of translators approved by the US Embassy.

You will also need:

  • Certificat de Coutume (Customs Certificate stating that your home country’s marriage customs are similar to those of France e.g. you cannot have seven wives), and
  • Certificat de Capacité Matrimoniale (stating that you are indeed single and not married back home to someone else).

Each must have an official translation. Both of these documents are available at and furnished by the Paris US and Canadian Embassies. If you obtain these documents from the Embassy, they are already in French.

For the US, make an appointment online here.

For Canada, go during Notary hours daily from 9am – noon.  For more information, click here.

Note the medical certificates are NO LONGER needed.

For more information, stop by your City Hall and ask for the Guide des Futures Epoux booklet which has all the relevant information inside, albeit in French.

There are fees associated with each of these demands at the Embassy and Vital Records Department.

Once you have all your documentation, take it with your fiancé to the City Hall and ask for a date for your civil marriage. Be sure you go in advance of your preferred date, especially in Paris, as the work with a back log of over a month.

Be sure to time your documents correctly so that the six month period of your Birth Certificate does not expire before your civil marriage. If it does, you’ll have to request a new one and start again.

18 thoughts on “GETTING MARRIED IN FRANCE”

  1. Hi, I LOVE your blog. It’s incredible how you’ve assembled so much info (and LINKS!) that otherwise takes hours. I’m going thru the processes of both renewing my titre de sejour and getting married (getting married is significantly easier).

    I have a few updates and additions to the process above. The guide to getting married in Paris which they will give you at your mairie is called “Se marier è Paris” so hopefully the info in it is consistent across all mairies in Paris. Note that you can pick up this folder with the list of required documents by yourself, but when you’ve assembled them all, you need to return with your partner.

    You are absolutely right about needing to get an apostille with your birth certificate. The state where I was born (Virginia) will only send it to the registered credit card address (and only in the US I think), so factor in time to receive yours. It’s not an overnight process. Then you need to take it to a certified translator to have them translate only the second page (the birth certificate). The first page (the apostille) is already translated. I had had my real birth certificate translated when I arrived in France, but now that they’re requiring apostilles, I had to get it translated again (and the one that comes with the apostille is significantly shorter than my original birth certificate. And lists a different place of birth. Oy.)

    Once you have collected all the documents, you return to the mairie with your partner to go over your dossier. Note that your birth certificate must be dated within 3 months (or 6 months if you’re a foreigner) of this meeting, *not* the wedding date. The folder says “de moins de 3 mois au moment du dépôt de dossier” and they confirmed that with us since my apostille is about to turn 6 months old. Note that they kept the original of the apostille and birth certificate, so definitely scan it first (and I went ahead and ordered a new one).

    After this meeting, they post the marriage banns (notices) for 10 days, at which point you can return and choose your wedding date. At least that’s how they do it at my mairie, which was disconcerting since we are doing a quickie wedding on short notice and would have liked to have confirmed our date as early as possible.

    I would say in our case the entire process is taking just over one month, but that is because I planned ahead and had my apostille in hand, my appointment at the consulate made in advance, and we’re getting married at a slow time of year.

    Hope this helps!

    • My boyfriend is from France and I’m from USA. We want to get married this year and move to France. Please let me know what steps we have to make in order for me to move over there. Also if I married in France by the city hall and by the church do I am allow to leave the country and be back to USA after the wedding? Or I have to stay for certain time?

      • Hi Jolie! I’m a wedding planner in France. If you have any question about the organization of your event, send me a mail. I can help to organize your wedding if you want. That will always be better to be followed when we organize a wedding in foreign.

        See you soon!

  2. I got married in France and wondering if how can i submit a copy of our marriage certificate to the US embassy hère in Paris. Thank you!

  3. Lamar said:

    Can anyone discuss the process of getting your visa to stay and work in France after a marriage? Do I need long-term visa to get the Vie Privee et Familiale status?

    Thanks!

  4. Hi,
    Thanks for your wonderful blog!
    I wondered if you had information about name changes after marriage. As far as I understand, in France, a woman never legally changes her name. Her ‘nom de jeune fille’ appears on all important paperwork and she adopts her husband’s name as a ‘nom d’usage’. It’s therefore about as simple as changing your address (and maybe showing your livret de famille to your bank).

    In the US, however, if one chooses to change their name after marriage, it must be done so legally. Driver’s license, Social Security Card, the whole works.

    My question is this: if I adopt my husband’s name here in France, would it be best to change my name legally in the US as well? If I didn’t (since I don’t live there and it would be a headache voire impossible) would this inconsistency cause problems down the road? Finally, to change the name on my passport or not to change it?

    How did you go about all of this?

    Thanks for any insight you might share!
    Cheers,
    Jane

  5. i am getting married in france,,,,but my papers is not complete only paper i don’t know how to get certificate of custom…..i hope you help me…

  6. i have my fiance from usa i live on france like demande de asil so i need to know what i need to be married with she and with respecful Rushit Reka i wait one answer

  7. Is the 40 day residency required?

  8. Hi! My fiancé and I plan to get married first in the US. I am American and he is French and has lived here in NYC for 30 years.

    After we’re married, we want to have a second wedding in France.

    Questions: since we’ll already be married, do we still need to go through all the formalities as you’ve listed? And would we still need to do it in his home town?

    Thank you!

    Lori

  9. Hi thanks for informative blog..i have a 7 years old daughter and i want her to take to france with me for my wedding. What kind of visa should i get it for her? And what are the requirements needed? Pls help me…really appreciate ur reply guys..thanks a lot.

  10. SugarDonut said:

    Only ONE spouse has to show residency requirement of living in France. I am from Quebec and married my french spouse in France this year.

    Here is what I needed :

    1) proof of my residence in Quebec (i.e. a hydro bill)
    2) an original birth certificate from the Quebec government (make sure its recent, 3 – 6 months – I dont remember which)
    3) proof from the Quebec government that there was no record of me being married (past or current)
    4) Customs certificate (certificat de coutume) I contacted a lawyer and he issued it in 2 days (cost around 200)

    When I had all this I went to the French consulate and they stamped all the documentation and I was ready to head off to France and join my future spouse!

    The whole procedure took less than 2 weeks (I asked the government to rush my birth certificat and proof that I was single). Perhaps because Quebec is French, therefore no translation is necessary, but it was very quick.

    When I got to France my BF and I went to the mairie and I gave them my documentation etc they kept all of it. We went early February and chose the date (late March) We went back around a week before the wedding to confirm the date and got married with no hassle. It’s true that one spouse has to be there something like 40 days +, so spur of the moment weddings are impossible, but in the end its all worth it!

    For those in Canada and the USA, you do not need a visa to get married in France, just make sure that if you enter with no visa you are out before THREE MONTHS. In North America its pretty relax when it comes to leaving the country once you have overstayed your welcome, but in France they monitor when you leave. My BIL works for the French police and has said that people do go to jail and get banned if they overstay their three months in France.

    Cheers and good luck in getting married in France, it’s lovely and you won’t regret it.

  11. Johng911 said:

    Really informative article post.Thanks Again. Awesome. bfkdddceadgb

  12. getting married in another place is not really easy, you could just imagine all the paper works and fees, but its all worth it

  13. i want her for marriage

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