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:
- a 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
- a 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.