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One of the couple getting married must have been resident in a commune in France for a minimum of one month prior to the civil marriage. The civil marriage must take place in that commune. If both parties have been resident for over 30 days in different communes, the application for the civil marriage may be made to the mairie (Town Hall) of either commune.
The mairie should provide an explanatory brochure (in French) about the documents and certificates to be provided. Only original documents or authenticated photocopies will be accepted. Documents not in French should be translated by a sworn translator (traducteur assermenté). (Names of sworn translators are available from the mairie or local police station).
French law requires the publication of Banns at the mairie of the commune of residence 10 days prior to the civil marriage. Certain documents must be received and approved by the mairie before Banns may be posted. A mairie may require a complete marriage file 10 or more days prior to the publication of Banns. Confirm these requirements.
A religious ceremony may only be performed after the civil ceremony. The minister, priest or rabbi will require the certificate of civil marriage (certificat de célébration civile) as proof that the civil ceremony has taken place.
These documents will probably be required (do confirm the full list with the mairie):
Foreign partners may be expected to present the following:
Legal documents not in French must usually be translated by a sworn translator and have an official seal, the Certificate of Apostille of the Hague.
A prenuptial (or pre-marital) agreement (the contrat de marriage) stipulates the terms of the marriage (régime matrimonial). If this is desired it must be drawn up by a notary public before the wedding; if a wedding proceeds with no prenuptial agreement the couple is automatically married in community of property (communauté de biens réduite aux acquêts). This means that items each party owns personally before the marriage and whatever comes to them afterwards through inheritance remains their property. That which is acquired during the marriage is owned equally by both parties.
The two most common marital regimes are: being married out of community of property (séparation de biens) and a combination of separation and joint ownership (participation aux acquêts). A notary will advise.
If there is a marital contract, the notary provides a Certificat du notaire or Attestation du notaire which confirms its existence. This certificate must have been drawn up no more than two months prior to the marriage and is submitted to the mairie along with the other documents.
If either of the couple has been divorced or widowed they should supply proof in the form of an Acte de mariage (certified copy of the final divorce decree) or an Acte de décès (in the case of widowhood)
A child born prior to the marriage may be legitimised. The town hall must be notified and a copy of the birth certificate provided (in particular indicating the fact of recognition).
The national Embassy of foreigners marrying in France can assist with the preparation of certain documents (for a fee).