How to Get Married in France

French law states that you or your partner must be a resident of France for at least 40 days prior to the marriage. You will be required to show proof of residency (such as an electric bill, a receipt of rent paid, etc.) when applying for a marriage license.

Because of this law, most people who have their heart set on a wedding in France (but not planning on moving to France) choose to have a vow renewal ceremony instead. The couple may have a small private ceremony before a judge in their hometown, and then travel to France with their wedding party and guests for another ceremony. Most of the time, the bride and groom (and the officiant) are the only people who know that the ceremony is a vow renewal and not the real deal. This way, you can still have your dream wedding in romantic France, but you can also avoid the residency requirements and the extensive amount of paperwork, rules, and regulations.

In some cases, such as a couple living in France to attend school, or if you or your partner is a resident of France, and you wish to obtain a marriage license, here are a few of the requirements for a marriage in France:

  • All marriages in France must be performed by a French civil authority (an officier de l'état civil) before any religious ceremony takes place.
  • A religious ceremony may be performed after 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 parties must have resided in France for forty (40) days prior to the marriage.
  • The civil ceremony will take place in the town of residence.
    Publications of banns:
  • French law requires the posting of marriage banns at the appropriate city hall no less than ten days before the marriage.
  • The first publication of the banns can be made only after thirty days of residence in France.

Required Documents (if you are traveling to France, be sure you pack these in your carry-on bag and not your checked luggage):

Most city halls (mairies) in France require some or all of the following documents:

  • A valid U.S. passport, or a French residence permit (carte de sejour);
  • A birth certificate (extrait d’acte de naissance) less than 3-months-old. Because the information on American birth certificates differs from that provided on French birth certificates, individuals born in the U.S. must generally submit additional information about their marital status.
  • An affidavit of marital status (Certificat de Célibat ou de non-remariage) less than 3-months old: French city halls also usually require a certificate of celibacy. It can be done in the form of a notarized affidavit signed before an American Consular officer in France.
  • An affidavit of law (certificat de coutume): Some mairies may request an Affidavit of Law and Customs in addition to the Affidavit of Marital Status. The Affidavit of Law and Customs is a statement about U.S. marriage laws, certifying that the American citizen is free to contract marriage in France and that the marriage will be recognized in the United States.
  • A medical certificate (certificat d’examen médical prénuptial) less than 2 months-old:
  • Each party to marriage must obtain a pre-nuptial medical certificate attesting that the individual was examined by a doctor.
  • Proof of domicile (justificatifs de domicile): You will need to present 2 proofs of domicile in the city of marriage (i.e.: electricity or telephone bills, rent etc.)

Remember that many documents in English will need to be officially translated into French, and in many cases, your ceremony will be performed in French, so you will need a translator at the ceremony.

For more detailed information on French marriage requirements go to the US Embassy in France website at

< click here for wedding regulations in other destinations
< click here for stories and more information on France

~ by Liz Stiglets

Related Pages:

Note: provides the above information for guidance purposes only. Couples should verify all information with the consulate from their respective countries and with the local offices before making any plans.

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