Getting married in France
What is it?
When a marriage is celebrated in France, French law applies. The rules for refugees are the same as for the French: you must choose a place of celebration, fill out a file with the town hall, publish the official "banns"...
The conditions for getting married in France:
- Be of legal age (over 18)
- Not already be married under French law or a foreign law (it is possible to be in a civil partnership because marriage automatically cancels the PACS)
- Not to marry a parent (marriage is forbidden between: ascendants and descendants, brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters, uncles / aunts and nephews / nieces of the same line of grandparents... To find out more, click here).
- Each spouse must consent to the marriage in a free and informed manner
- In France, marriage can be celebrated between 1 man and 1 woman, 2 men or 2 women.
Please note: Only civil marriage has legal value (not religious marriage).
Marriage is a commitment which implies rights and duties for both spouses (framed by the Civil Code).
- have a common life : the spouses are not obliged to live under the same roof, but must have a project of common life. If the spouses live together, they have the conjugal accommodation together. No sale can be made without the consent of both spouses. In the event of a rental, the two spouses are co-holders of the lease, even if the lease was signed by only one of the spouses before the marriage
- provide for the needs of the family : if the couple has children, they jointly ensure the material and moral education of the children
- help and assistance : if one spouse is ill or financially incapacitated, the other spouse owes him or her assistance
- remain faithful (sexual or emotional relationships outside marriage constitute a breach of marriage) and respect each other (physical or verbal domestic violence is punishable)
- contribute to the expenses of daily life (rent, shopping, charges ...) according to the financial resources of each.
- form the same tax household : both spouses have the same income tax return
- choose your name : it is possible to use the name of your husband or wife regardless of their gender (usual name). This use is optional. If one of the spouses wishes to use this customary name, you must then indicate this name in the “second name” section when requesting your next identity document (passport application for example). You can also declare a change of customary name to the various administrative services (health insurance fund, CAF, etc.)
- keep his physical integrity : you have the right to any medical treatment without information or consent from your spouse
- keep your professional freedom : you have the right to choose whether or not to work and to choose your profession
- keep your freedom of opinion and way of life : you have the right to freely practice worship, cultural, political, trade union activity, etc.
Who is it for?
What to do?
Choose the place of wedding
Home = this is the official place of residence (the address which appears on your administrative documents) and usual.
Residence = it is the place where a person lives in a stable and habitual way but it is not necessarily their home.
In France, marriage can be celebrated in:
- the municipality of home : the municipality where one of the future spouses has his domicile established for at least 1 continuous month,
- the municipality of residence : the municipality where one of the future spouses has his residence established by at least 1 month of continuous residence,
- the municipality of a parent : the municipality of residence or domicile of one of the parents (father or mother) of one of the future spouses.
Choosing the wedding witnesses
In France, it is compulsory to have:
- at least 2 witnesses
- maximum 4 witnesses.
Witnesses must be of legal age or emancipated.
They can be family members, friends ... Choose people you trust with whom you want to share your marriage!
Please note: You can change witnesses until the big day of the wedding celebration.
Go to the town hall to collect the marriage file
Once the place has been chosen, you have to go get a wedding file from the town hall.
This file specifies the documents to be provided and the marriage rules specific to the municipality (“married couple charter”: for example, the noise regulations in front of the town hall).
Please note : When you go to the town hall to collect your marriage file, you can ask to make an appointment to make the file complete and for the wedding hearing (see step 4).
You can also ask on what date and time the wedding can be celebrated and start setting a date (this depends on the availability of the mayor or deputies who perform the marriages).
In general, you will be asked for the following documents for both spouses:
- original and photocopy of the identity document
- proof of address or residence ( example: water / electricity / gas bill, tax notice, proof of residence tax )
- information on witnesses ( surname, first name, date and place of birth, profession and domicile, copy of their identity document, etc. )
FOR SPOUSES BORN IN FRANCE: birth certificate (full copy or extract with filiation) less than 3 months old when filing the file
FOR SPOUSES BORN ABROAD: birth certificate of a maximum of 6 months (no time limit if the system of the country of origin does not provide for the updating of their acts). You can request this document on the Ofpra website.
Please note : Also read on Réfugiés.info: Obtain a birth certificate
As a refugee, you may be asked for specific documents. It is the town hall which will tell you which documents are required. If you are asked for a "custom certificate", you will have to request it from Ofpra.
Please note : Also read on Refugies.infos.: Get a custom certificate to get married
Go to the town hall to complete the file and have the wedding hearing
Once the file is complete, you must return it to the town hall. In general, it is at this time that the hearing of the marriage takes place: the town hall officer checks that the file is complete and talks to the two spouses. He can request the presence of a translator, if one of the spouses does not speak French.
The date and time of the wedding are confirmed, in agreement with the town hall and the future spouses (if the marriage file is complete).
Please note : If you have specific requests for the celebration of your marriage (example: speech, music…), you can start talking about them during the hearing.
Marriage is above all a joyous moment!
You can ask who will be the person who will be celebrating your wedding, and take their contact details if it is not the person who is receiving you, in order to discuss these matters with them before the day of the celebration.
Publication of banns
The town hall for the celebration of the marriage as well as the town halls where the spouses have their domicile display on their door for at least 10 days :
- the date of the wedding
- the names, first names, professions, domiciles or residences of the future spouses
- the place of celebration of the marriage.
This is called the publication of banns.
Good to know : The marriage cannot therefore take place before these 10 days have elapsed.
It must take place within one year of the expiration of the 10-day period.
Example: Publication of banns on May 1, 2021 ⇒ the wedding must take place between May 10, 2021 and May 10, 2022.
The marriage must be celebrated in a hall of the town hall open to the public or in any municipal building located on the municipal territory ( for example a village hall ).
Marriage is celebrated by the mayor or a deputy . At least 2 witnesses must be present.
Each spouse expresses his consent and his commitment to respect the obligations of marriage.
A family register is given to the spouses.
Registration of your marriage by OFPRA
In the days following the wedding, OFPRA will register your marriage.