French marriage contracts necessary for buying a house?

Hi All,

We are in the process of buying a house and are siging the compromis tomorrow. Our notaire has requested a marriage contract from us, which we don’t have because we were married in the UK and did not set one up. I have had a quick search in the forum and was unable to find answers to my burning questions. We also asked the notaire, but they have been rather silent on the matter. Therefore, would anyone happen to know:

  1. Is it necessary to have a marriage contract if we are calling ourselves a married couple? We have had our marriage registered with the French government. So, that bit of bureaucracy is out of the way.

  2. Are we able to set up a marriage contract now ? Or would it be an independent séparation de biens contrat?


  1. Are there any tax advantages for a house to held by one person rather than shared between the two of us?

Any help is greatly appreciated.


I suggest you take professional advice.

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I don’t know about tax advantages, but we bought this year and showed our UK marriage certificate.

If you’re asking about tax, I presume you are a French resident now. As John says, professional advice is likely best, especially since ‘rules’ seem a little flexible depending on individual notaires & circumstances.

We just told the notaires that we are married under the UK regime of ‘séparation de biens’, and didn’t plan to change this. That was accepted without question and we gave them our UK marriage certificate.

Even French people don’t have to have a contrat de marriage

Is not an English marriage certicate same as a contract de marriage

When we bought our house ten years ago, our embarrassingly flimsy, cheap looking, A5 South African marriage contract (with a crossing out!) was deemed sufficient.

Nope… it’s an agreement of who owns what assets and how things will be assigned in future, that sort of thing … professionally drawn up to suit the couple’s wishes.

The question is asked at every mariage… it’s part of the set script.
In our local mariages, Brits have always answered “non” and I think I’ve only heard one “oui” from French folk…

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The cynic in me believes that we have already done so with the notaire…

As for the tax advice I will ask my French accountant.

I am curious if that is the default position of a Uk marriage?

I had assumed that a prenuptial agreement was the equivalent of séparation de bien.

The notaire’s primary role is tax collection. for the State. The personal tax implications are worth checking out because multi jurisdiction things aren’t always as straightforward as they seem, better to be fully informed. My Notaire, sadly now retired, and my investment advisor did an excellent job unbeknownst to me or my wife. I only found out when she died suddenly. It could have been very messy.

I still have one of the old SA paper driving licences somewhere. Blue cover if I remember. They weren’t very convincing :slightly_smiling_face:

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Not precisely, in that a UK marriage doesn’t really have a ‘regime’ in the French sense as far as I know. But it has no effect on one’s possessions so the equivalent is ‘séperation de biens’. What’s mine remains mine, what’s my partner’s remains his. Sure is one of us dies then the default is that the other one inherits. But in a divorce the starting point is what belongs to each person.

This is what we did as well 20 years ago. We have just sold the apartment and no problems with the fact that we both have equal shares. It also means that when one partner dies, their share goes to the surviving spouse and the heirs have no right to the deceased rights.

Indeed, the UK marriage does simplify the inheritance situation. We also have a will which re-iterates what should happen with our UK assets.

I am also a micro-entrepreneur working for some difficult consultancy clients. I know the risk is quite low, but I could be chased for our biens. So, I think we are going to split our assets for 'insaissabilité ’ reasons though I have just realised that it may create a mess with our UK wills… ah… Some lawyer somewhere is going to enjoy this…

I thought for a moment, when I saw the headline, that I should have got spiced before rocking up to the note :grinning:

If you are an entrepreneur individuel, creditors can no longer seize your principal residence. You don’t need a declaration d’insaisissabilité for that.

Indeed. Its not the principal residence that we are concerned about.