Marriage Dossier minefield

Hello all,

I am planning my marriage to my French partner and have got as far as the "dossier".

The mairie and tells me I need

i) a notarised birth certificate with sworn translation;

ii) a certificate de coutume

iii) a certificate of no impediment

I think they are wrong, and I think I'm in for a bit of a fight.

If I start with:

"la site officiel de l'administration francaise"

I understand I only need a birth certificate issued within the last six months - no coutume, no cert of no impediment, no mention of sworn translations.

If I then go to:

Legifrance Le service public de la diffusion du droit;jsessionid=591C589A881821F754096277045F34B1.tpdila09v_2?idArticle=LEGIARTI000017841367&cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006070721&dateTexte=20160113

Civil code Article 63

I find a confirmation of what I understood from the first site:

1° A la remise, pour chacun des futurs époux, des indications ou pièces suivantes :

-les pièces exigées par les articles 70 ou 71 ;

-la justification de l'identité au moyen d'une pièce délivrée par une autorité publique ;

-l'indication des prénoms, nom, date et lieu de naissance, profession et domicile des témoins, sauf lorsque le mariage doit être célébré par une autorité étrangère ;


La copie intégrale de l'acte de naissance remise par chacun des futurs époux à l'officier de l'état civil qui doit célébrer leur mariage ne doit pas dater de plus de trois mois si elle a été délivrée en France et de plus de six mois si elle a été délivrée dans un consulat.

71 details a case if no birth certificate can be ordered.

Again - no notarisation, translation, coutume, etc.

So, even without resorting to EU law, I don't feel the secretary of the marie is competent to oblige me to supply the documents in the versions she has been told to ask me for.


Am I digging myself a huge hole, which will end up with us going to Gibraltar or LA to get married, or has anyone in this community actually managed to get married with just a passport, birth certificate, and EDF bill?

Thank you for your patience and your support.


It is the latter paragraph that is important. The proposed instrument has actual been in the hands of the EC since 2013 and it was originally thought it would pass through the parliament quickly but too many other things got in the way. Last autumn a bulletin said it should be through parliament soon and with the council for approval fast, possibly to be open for secession this year. However, a printout of the Vienna Convention alone scares the pants off functionaries threatened with having to read it - bluff it may be but it works.


Dear Sir,

Thank you for your question.

The Vienna Convention No 16 of the International Committee on Civil Status on the issue of multilingual extracts from civil status records has so far entered into force in only some EU Member States. These include France, but not the UK, so it does not apply in the bilateral relations between these two countries.

If all the Member States had ratified the convention, official translations for civil status records would often be superfluous. Indeed, This convention provides for the issue of extracts from civil status records on multilingual forms whereby, under Article 5 of the Vienna Convention No 1, the extracts have the same evidential value as extracts issued in accordance with the rules of domestic law in force in the State from which they emanate .

In the current legal state of play, it is not unlawful for French authorities to require a sworn translation of a UK birth certificate. In any case, it is not contrary to the rules contained in Directive 2004/38/EC (right of entry and stay and related equal treatment rights).

For your information, because the current situation of relying on the Vienna Convention is not satisfactory, an instrument on the mutual recognition between EU Member States of civil status documents, has been recently proposed by the European Commission, and is currently under examination at the European Parliament and EU Council.

With our best wishes,

Your Europe Advice


People who didn't need documents translated were lucky exceptions. Translation and notarisation of non-French documents is normal, until everything becomes 'standardised' (if the EU lasts that long ;-)

Things may have changed over the years but when we lived in Grenoble in 1981 the admin overhead for my Irish citizen girlfriend and British citizen me to get married wasn’t too onerous. We just got the list of required documents from our local mairie and worked through it. I think choosing the dress took more effort :slight_smile:


I see I have been (incompetently) repeating Brian's excellent work!

I'll get me coat then.....

read hassle FREE pacs :-O ;-)

Yup - if you are an oldy & have children but not together & property etc then being pacsed is MILES easier when you turn up your toes. Or if you split up, of course.


No hassle at all. Two appointments and it was done. We were advised as foreigners to use a laywer by the local authorities, and it was good to have his advice on certain issues.

And a lot cheaper than going to Scotland or Las Vegas…

Thanks Terry. We must also keep an eye for when it (finally after too long back and forth in Brussels and Strasbourg) it coming into effect and, most important, France saying when they will implement it.

if you haven't got kids then there isn't a big difference, if you have, there is. 400€ - that was the price of a hassle pacs, it's free if you do it yourself ;-)

See USEFUL LINKS/TRANSLATIONS. Full details there.

"Even when the new EU directive comes into force..."

Which directive would that be Brian?

Gosh, we paid a lawyer two years ago to draw up a PACS agreement and all we needed were recent copies of our birth certificates and proof of a divorce. He also drew up our testaments. It cost us about 400 euros.

And I still don’t see any benefit for marriage over a PACS agreement, except that it is not recognised in some countries, if that’s an issue.

Really? That sounds like really good news! I'll put on my velvet gloves and start stroking in the right direction :-)

Thanks, I'm starting to feel like I'm making some headway.

Hahahahaha! I've tried using this Hague Convention except that nobody has heard of it! I suspect it is buried in the mists of time and a bureaucratic nonchalance toward anything - especially that they have not made up themselves. Even when the new EU directive comes into force it is bound to be fun. We have only ever had minor problems and dealt with those in offices face to face. We were asked if we had had our marriage officially registered in Switzerland since we married in England. My OH asked firstly what is had to do with the woman asking and then said that her home country accepts the word of its citizens and does not need to do such things. Hmmm, in fact it is such a bureaucratic country they would probably have asked the size of our witnesses grandmothers' shoes. But it was making a point and it worked by getting Ms Tresimportante to back down.

Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents

I have been in France since 1980 and with my partner since 1987. We got married in 2007. All I needed was a full-length Birth Cert (ordered on-line from N.I.) which I had translated by a sworn translator, EDF bill and my passport. There was a slight hassle as the Mairie couldn’t decide whether Belfast was in the Royaume-Uni or Ireland (one of my children’s birth certs said ‘Father born in Belfast , Royaume-Uni’ and the other child had hers as ‘Belfast, Iralande [sic]’. In the end they tossed a coin I think. BUT we were married in a big city, Toulouse, where they are used to these sort of mariages. It’s probably different out in the sticks.

I'm American but also had to have all of the documents you were told to provide. I've been married to my Frenchman for 6 and a half years now. I have to say that in my case, it didn't take all that long and I had a previous marriage to account for as well. My birth certificate copy was ordered through the mail and divorce decree and birth certificate were translated by the office that issued the certificate de coutume. Pretty sure everything took less than a month and I don't remember being stressed out by any of it.

Hope that helps!

It should - after all you are already taxed together and have to have common residence in order to be pacsed at all! Check first though - I'd have thought that already being pacsed should actually save you a lot of faffing about if you are tactful about it ;-)