How To Get Married In France

The British Embassy Consular Section cannot give authoritative advice on the formalities that a British person must complete in order to marry under French law. Such advice must be obtained from the mairie (town hall) where the marriage is to take place. The following notes are intended as a supplement to information received from the mairie.

Three important points:

1.A religious ceremony cannot be performed until AFTER the civil marriage.

2.A French civil authority (mairie, adjoint, or conseiller municipal) performs the civil ceremony in the town in which one of the parties to be married has resided for at least 40 days immediately preceding the marriage.

3.Publication of the banns in the town hall (mairie) where marriage will take place is compulsory in France. Most mairies take approximately 4 –6 weeks to process an application. Requirements will vary for each mairie, therefore, it is essential that you first meet with them in order to determine their exact documentary requirements and terms of validity (documents may need to be issued less than 3 months prior to date of marriage or publication of banns).

A marriage performed in France under French law is recognised in the UK.

Please note:

Marriages cannot be performed within the Embassy or any consular office in France.

The British Embassy does not provide translation services. Official translators are listed at your local mairie or prefecture, or in yellow pages under "traducteur assermente".

In all cases where a document or certificate is referred to, only original documents or certified photocopies will be accepted. Please allow processing time of 5 – 7 working days.

1. Certificate of Celibacy (Certificat de celibat)

Non-French nationals will be asked for a Certificate of Celibacy (Certificat de celibat), please download the following PDF file for you Certificate of Celibacy

2. Certificate of Law (Certificat de coutume)

The mairie may request a certificate of law (Certificat de coutume).

For British citizens residing in France: Certificate of Law Application Form (FR) [Word, 84KO, new window]

For UK residents: Certificate of law Application Form (UK)

Documents to produce to the Embassy:

The British Embassy in Paris issues this certificate in French, on production of the applicant’s passport and full birth certificate (version which indicates parents full names), completed application form, correct fees and any applicable documents mentioned below:

1.British nationals born outside the United Kingdom should produce basic documents showing how British nationality was acquired.This may be, for instance, a consular birth certificate or the local birth certificate and their father’s birth and marriage certificates.

2.Applicants who acquired British nationality by naturalisation or by registration must also produce their certificate of naturalisation or registration.

3.Applicants who have changed their name must provide declaration of change of name or Deed Poll.

4.Applicants who have been previously married must provide the divorce decree absolute or the death certificate of the former spouse.

5.Applicants who are under 18 years of age must provide written consent of both parents and legal guardian. If parents or guardian are not resident in France, a French consular officer should witness their signature.

The certificate of law includes personal particulars of the applicant and a statement of British law as regards marriage:

British citizens do not require parents’ consent unless under 18 years of age;

The publication of banns in the United Kingdom is not necessary for a marriage taking place abroad;

A woman who is a British national does not lose her nationality by marriage to a foreigner or, as the case may be, a foreign woman does not, by the act of marriage, acquire British nationality on marriage to a British person. (She is, however, in certain circumstances, entitled to naturalise as such: see note 3b.)

All applications submitted to Foreign land Commonwealth Office are dealt with by post only. No callers are accepted. Processing time of approximately 21 working days.

UK Residents

If an applicant is resident in the United Kingdom, the application for the certificate of law may be submitted to:

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Consular Directorate
Room G35, Old Admiralty Building
London SW1A 2PA

Tel.: 0207 008 0186

As the Foreign and Commonwealth Office do not issue certificates of law they will forward the application to the British Embassy Consular Section in Paris.

All applicants must submit original documents along with 2 sets of clearly legible photocopies. In order to return original documents promptly, we recommend that applicants include a self-addressed pre-paid "Recorded" or "Special Delivery" envelope.

3. Nationality

As mentioned above, the certificate of law states that a woman who is a British national does not lose her nationality on marriage.

By marriage to a Frenchman she does not automatically acquire French citizenship.

A person who wishes to acquire French nationality following his or her marriage to a French citizen must sign a declaration before a French magistrate (juge d’instance), or a French Consul.

Since a British national who subsequently acquires French nationality does not lose British nationality, he or she will have both British and French nationality. They will be entitled to hold a British passport but according to French regulations he or she will also have to be in possession of a French passport or "Carte Nationale d’Identite" whenever he or she crosses the French border.

A foreigner who wishes to apply for British nationality following marriage to a British person must be resident in the United Kingdom and is only entitled to make the application after a continuous period of three years’ residence there.

A French woman will not lose French nationality by acquiring British nationality, although she is entitled to make a declaration of renunciation of French citizenship if she is of full age and if her usual place of residence is abroad.

Authoritative information about French nationality law should be obtained from the competent French authorities, such as the local Tribunal d’Instance.

4. Placing a marriage on record in the UK

If you wish to have your marriage recorded in the United Kingdom, a multilingual extract from the marriage register, issued under the Convention of Paris of 27 September 1956 (formule plurilingue d’extrait de l’acte de mariage), should be obtained. This is a standard form issued by the French authorities for use in other countries and is available from most mairies.

This document, along with a photocopy of your British Passport. may be submitted at any time after the marriage to the British Consulate-General in whose district the marriage was celebrated or to the FCO if the applicant is resident in the United Kingdom:

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Consular Directorate
Room G35, Old Admiralty Building

London SW1A 2PA

It will then be transmitted to the Registrar General in London or, if the party was born in Scotland or Northern Ireland, to the Registrar General in Edinburgh or Belfast, as the case may be.

If the mairie is unable to supply this document, you may submit an authenticated copy of the marriage certificate (extrait de l’acte de mariage) together with a translation in English. Please note that it must be a full translation, down to the last details that appear on the marriage certificate, including any footnotes, marginal notes, numbers,letters, signatures, seals and dates. If anything at all is omitted, the translation is not valid.

The fees for having a marriage recorded in the United Kingdom is ˆ44.00. It should be made by guaranteed banker's cheque (not a banker's draft), mandat cheque or mandat cash, payable to British Embassy Paris, or by credit card (payment authorisation form).

Please note that there is no legal obligation to have a marriage recorded in the United Kingdom. The parties may take advantage of the facility if they consider it would serve some useful purpose to have their marriage so recorded, but the validity in British law of a marriage contracted in France is in no way affected by its having been, or not having been, recorded.


The fee for a certificate of custom is ˆ77.00 per applicant.

This amount should be remitted by mandat cheque or mandat-cash (postal orders) available from French Post offices, or guaranteed banker's cheque (not a banker's draft). Cheques must be worded in French and made payable to "British Embassy Paris".

Payments by credit card (payment authorisation form) are also accepted. We no longer accept personal cheques.

Postal applications are preferred but if you wish to call at the Consular Section with your application, payment of the fees can be made by cash or by most credit cards.

If you wish your documents to be returned by registered post, please enclose a self-addressed envelope stamped to the value of ˆ 6 and complete a registered letter slip "recepisse d’un envoi recommande sans avis de reception" with your name and address.

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