Expats in France: Getting PACSed or Married in France

PACSed | Married | Visiteur Carte de Séjour | Vie Privée et Familiale Carte de Séjour


PACSed

The PACS originally began as a way of giving homosexual couples the rights and benefits similar to those given to married couples, but straight couples can take advantage of it too. If you have a significant other in France, you can get PACSed whenever you want and after a year of living together you will be eligible for a carte de séjour (CDS) that allows you to work (vie privée et familiale). If you don't have proof of living together for a year - which can start BEFORE you get PACSed - you can get a CDS that allows you stay in France, but not work (visiteur). But remember that you need to have a long-stay visa (type D) before you can receive either CDS. And remember that getting PACSed and getting a CDS are two completely different processes, so do not let your préfecture tell you that you are not eligible to get PACSed if you have not been living together for a year or something equally ridiculous. You get PACSed at your Tribunal d'Instance in the city where you live. It is possible to get PACSed in another country (just go to the French embassy for the info) and it is also possible for two non-French citizens to get PACSed in France. However, one of the partners must already have a valid CDS (or be an EU citizen).

Official Information about PACS from the Ministère de la Justice

My French boyfriend and I got PACSed in March 2007, so here's all of the paperwork we received from the Tribunal in Annecy:

PACS Information for Tribunal d'Annecy
PACS Info page 2
PACS Info page 3

PACS Info page 4

Paperwork required (at Tribunal d'Annecy)

Attestation de résidence commune

Attestation d'absence de lien de parenté

Demande d'attestation de non engagement

Each Tribunal is different, so I can't tell you exactly what paperwork you need to get PACSed, but this is what we needed to provide in Annecy (outside of the documents given to us to fill out):

Once you've gathered all of the paperwork, you just need to call the Tribunal and make an appointment. You will keep the two PACS contracts, and receive two récépisses de PACS to prove that you are officially PACSed. This whole appointment takes less than half an hour. Once you are PACSed, you will also have the right to social security even if you are unemployed, but you might have to switch from MGEN to CPAM. Also, you can no longer legally declare yourself as célibataire on official documents, such as low-income housing benefits. Even though you are not officially married, you are still considered a couple for administrative purposes in France.

Documents required by the Tribunal d'Instance in Bordeaux:

PACS Contract - one copy
Certificat de non-PACS/non-marriage, one for each partner - you must write to the TGI in Paris, and your partner must ask for his/hers from the tribunal serving the area where he/she was born. The Tribunal in Bordeaux considers this document valid for one month for French-born citizens and three months for everyone else.
Certificate de coutume and certificate de célibat for the non-French partner - make an appointment at the closest consulate/presence post of your country to fill out/notarize/pick up these documents
Attestation of lack of family relation
Attestation of life together at a common address
Copies of both partners' ID cards (passport, ID card, CDS, etc.)
Copies of both partners' birth certificates (and a certified translation if not already in French)
Justificatif de domicile (such as an EDF or France Télécom bill)

NOTE AS OF JULY 1, 2008: French citizens no longer need the Certificat de non-PACS/non-marriage/non-engagement in order to get PACSed. However, foreigners still do need it.

Married

The civil ceremony is the only legal marriage ceremony in France. If you want to have a religious ceremony, you must do it after the civil one. At least one of the partners must have resided in France for 40 days prior to the wedding. You must get married at the mairie in the town where you live in France. Other things to keep in mind: Sometimes both partners need to be present for the publication de banns, which must be posted no less than 10 days before the marriage. All witnesses must speak French. If one or both partners do not speak French, you must hire an official translator.

Generally this is the paperwork you need to get married in France:

You will automatically receive a livret de famille after you are married. If you want a marriage certificate, you will need to write to your mairie to request one.

Obviously I haven't gotten married in France, so here is the official Marriage in France document for American citizens from the embassy.

Visiteur CDS

If you are PACSed but cannot prove un an de vie commune (one year of living together, which can start BEFORE you get PACSed) with your partner, then you can receive the "visiteur" CDS. It is valid for one year and may be renewed and/or changed into a "vie privée et familiale" CDS once you can prove the un an de vie commune. You do not have to pay for this CDS and usually there is no medical visit is required. You can receive low-income benefits (CAF), but not unemployment. You do not have the right to work in France with this CDS. As long as you have a long-stay visa and are PACSed to an EU Citizen, you have the legal right to a CDS visiteur.

Here is an official circulaire from the Ministere de l'Intérieur to help your case if the Préfecture refuses your request.

Documents required at the Annecy Préfecture for the visiteur CDS due to being PACSed (this list may have changed and both partners must be present when turning in the paperwork!):

For the recent certificat de PACS (to prove that you are indeed still PACSed), you have to request it from the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris as of January 2008. Just send a letter including your name, current address, your situation familiale, and why you are requesting it. You will need to include a copy of an ID that has your city of birth on it (passport, carte de sejour, national ID card, French driver's license, recent copy & translation of your birth certificate, etc.) and a self-addressed envelope that is not stamped. The address is:

TGI de Paris
Annexe Brabant
Service du PACS
4, Blvd du Palais
75055 PARIS CEDEX 01


Vie Privée et Familiale

If you are married to an EU citizen or are PACSed to an EU citizen AND can prove un an de vie commune, you can receive the "vie privée et familiale" CDS. You will have the right to work in France at any job with this CDS. It is valid for one year and can be renewed. You may have to do the medical visit again. Your récépissé for this card will state that you have the right to work, but this does not mean that an employer will hire you without the actual card...

Usually only holders of this type of CDS are allowed to apply for ASSEDIC (unemployment benefits). As long as you have a long-stay visa (if your partner is French and not any other EU nationality), are PACSed to an EU Citizen and can prove the un an de vie commune, you have the legal right to a CDS vie privée et familiale. If you are married to an EU citizen (but NOT a French citizen) then you do NOT need a long-stay visa in order to obtain a CDS in France.

Here is an official circulaire from the Ministere de l'Intérieur to help your case if the Préfecture refuses your request for a CDS due to PACSing.

Documents required at the Annecy préfecture for the première demande of a vie privée et familiale CDS due to being PACSed (both partners must be present when turning in the paperwork!):

Documents required at the Bordeaux Préfecture for the première demande of a vie privée et familiale CDS due to being PACSed (both partners must be present when turning in the paperwork!):

For the recent certificat de PACS (to prove that you are indeed still PACSed), you have to request it from the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris as of January 2008. Just send a letter including your name, current address, your situation familiale, and why you are requesting it. You will need to include a copy of an ID that has your city of birth on it (passport, carte de sejour, national ID card, French driver's license, recent copy & translation of your birth certificate, etc.) and a self-addressed envelope that is not stamped. The address is:

TGI de Paris
Annexe Brabant
Service du PACS
4, Blvd du Palais
75055 PARIS CEDEX 01



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