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This information came from the US embassy in France. Although it is intended specifically for Americans getting married in France, only a few parts (such as obtaining a birth certificate) apply only to Americans. Most of this information should be applicable for any nationality. Rules can change, and parts vary from town to town (Mairie to Mairie), so check at your targeted Mairie for the latest requirements.

We have personal experience with the process, and it does work (but it wasn't trouble-free). Good luck.


Civil and Religious ceremonies

To be legal, all marriages must be performed by a French civil authority, i.e., an "officier de l'état civil," BEFORE any religious ceremony takes place. In practice, this means the mayor ("maire") or his legally authorized replacement, such as a deputy mayor ("adjoint") or a city councilor ("conseiller municipal"), of the town in which one of the parties to be married has resided for at least forty (40) days immediately preceding the marriage. All Americans marrying in France must comply with this requirement.

Religious ceremony: A religious ceremony may be performed AFTER (never before) the civil ceremony. The minister, priest or rabbi performing the religious ceremony will require the certificate of civil marriage ("certificat de célébration civile") as proof that the civil ceremony has taken place.

Residence requirement and place of marriage

At least one of the contracting parties must have resided in France for forty (40) days continuously prior to the marriage: The "mairie" (city hall) or town where the civil ceremony takes place is dictated by the place of residence. If both of the parties to marriage meet the residence requirement, but resided in different districts, the civil ceremony may take place in either district of residence. The 40-day residence requirement cannot be waived. Unfortunately, this precludes a wedding in Paris in those cases where both parties are only visiting for a short stay here.

Publications of banns
French law also requires the posting of marriage banns at the appropriate "mairie" no less than ten (10) days preceding the date of marriage. The first publication of the banns can be made only at the end of thirty (30) days of residence in France by one party to the marriage. Only in very exceptional cases can this requirement be waived by a French authority (the "Procureur de la République" for the district in which the marriage will take place). *Each mairie may require that the complete marriage file be presented as much as 10 or more days prior to the publication of Banns. Please contact your mairie to find out exactly what the delay is.

Marriage Certificate

Couples married in France automatically receive a "livret de famille". This is a booklet which serves as an official record of the marriage and subsequent events in the family such as births, deaths, divorce or name changes. In France, the "livret de famille" is an official document.

It is also possible to obtain a marriage certificate ("extrait d'acte de mariage") by writing to the "mairie" where the marriage took place. You must indicate
a) the date and place of the marriage and
b) the full names (including wife's maiden name) of the two parties.
If the certificate is to be mailed in France, the request should be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. If the certificate is to be mailed to a U.S. address, with a self-addressed envelope with a Universal Postal Union coupon to cover international postage costs.

Documentary Requirements

Please contact your local City Hall ("mairie" in French) for the exact requirements. Most "mairies" in France require some or all of the following documents: The list below is only illustrative.