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PACSed!

We’ve jumped hoops, performed tricks and cartwheels. And then we were PACSed ;)

It has been a stressful few weeks, in no small part due to paperwork concerns. It’s not just about run-of-the-mill effort in gathering the necessary documents, it’s the little things that we did not know we needed and only told within limited time frame, related to me, the foreigner! Documentation to be sent from abroad is bound to take time. How’s that for additional anxiety? In a way, this is our first tough exercise in proving that we are committed and want what we want. (Poor F had to do a lot of running around on my behalf. Luckily, he was on holidays before starting his new job.)

I thought I’d write this little info-post which hopefully would be helpful to someone intending to get PACSed. Particularly for Malaysian-French couple. Mind, this is based on our experience and what we’ve been asked to provide. The information is currently up-to-date but I won’t know when changes would be made in future. Could perhaps keep an eye out on the Service Public page on PACS?

Just for the background, we are both single (although now legally we’re not single but pacsé(e) in the eyes of French law), never been married, and have been living together in Paris for a while. I also hold a carte de séjour temporaire linked to my job and speak French reasonably well. We concluded our PACS at our local Tribunal d’Instance (TI) although it is also possible to go to a notary to register the PACS. The difference – it’s free at the TI!

This post is very long, divided into the following sections. Read what’s relevant to you.
– The very basic steps
– Document requirements
– Documents specific to foreign partner
– Effective management of PACS process
– Information for Malaysians intending to get PACSed in France


The very basic steps

  1. Identify your local TI : search for “Tribunal d’instance” in “Catégories” along with your postcode (in Paris, use 75000 to show all TI and look for your arrondissement’s)
  2. Gather the relevant paperwork, bearing in mind date validity.

  3. Obtain an appointment at the TI.

  4. Shows up for the appointment and voila!

  5. Collect the PACS certificate.


Document requirements

Documentation preparation for the French partner is a lot simpler and straight forward than that of the foreign partner. Let’s first look at the list of documents required and I will explain the foreign partner-specific requirements in a later section.

Also to note, any documentation in foreign language must be translated into French by official court translators. Cetiecap provides a list of companies that provide certified translation near to Cours d’appel in Paris. My friend Sarah also recommended this site to search for certified translator nationwide.

In cases where such translator is not available for a particular language, the translation service can be sought from consular section of the relevant country. For the record, there isn’t a known certified translator for Malay-French at present so translation service is provided by the Malaysian embassy.

A. Documents to be prepared/printed

  • a convention de PACS (i.e. a PACS contract), which can be a simplified contract or a more complicated one drawned up by a notary if there are additional clauses to be included to the contract (e.g. partitioning of property, personal affects, mortgage, children-related issues, inheritance etc).[Sample of simplified PACS contract in PDF]

  • attestation sur l’honneur de l’absence de lien de parenté, which is a declaration of no impediment to the PACS either through kinship or other alliance. [Sample of attestation: absence de lien parenté in PDF]

  • attestation sur l’honneur de résidence commune, which states the common residence of the partners is located within the area of the registration of PACS. [Sample of attestation: résidence commune in PDF]

  • proof of residency to support the attestation sur l’honneur de résidence commune

B. Documents to be provided by both partners

  • proof of identity, i.e. identity card, passport

  • integral copy of birth certificate (in France, it includes notations of family status where applicable), dated within 3 months (6 months for foreign partner)

C. Documents specifically for foreign partner

  • certificat de non-PACS, dated within 3 months

  • certificat de coutume and certificat de celibat

  • attestation de non inscription au répertoire civil (residents in France > 1 year)

D. Documents for other relevant circumstances (not applicable to us)

  • widowhood: details of deceased partner (e.g. livret famille with death information, extract of birth certificate with notation of death, death certificate)

  • divorcees: a copy of finalised divorce decree

  • prior PACS: proof of dissolution of PACS


Documents specific to foreign partner

These documents are to be submitted only by the foreign partner. In the past, certificat de non-PACS is required for both partners but with different periods of validity – 1 month for French partner, 3 months for foreign partner – but this has been changed. French partner is now exempt from this submission. An attestation de non-inscription au répertoire civil is to be provided only in the case of foreign partner who has been resident in France for over 1 year.

If the name of foreign partner is considered ambiguous gender-wise to a typical French, do include gender information when requesting for certificates from the French administrative offices. This may seem like a minor thing, but it is always advisable to get things correct right from the start, especially when the title of address/salutation is often used as gender indication. One never know if there may be repercussion a few years down the road that is currently not envisaged. Correcting that error after some time has lapsed could involve more paperworks (and perhaps snarky administrative staff) that makes thing more difficult than needs be. Logic doesn’t always apply in the chain of bureaucracy…

I. Certificat de non-PACS
This certificate can be obtained from the Tribunal de Grand Instance (TGI) in Paris, which acts as the information centre pertaining all PACS concluded by non-French nationals. The request form (cerfa n°12819*04) is to be filled and submit to TGI with supporting documents (valid identity card, certified translation of birth certificate).

If posting the request, send it to:
Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris
Annexe Brabant – bureau des actes
4 Boulevard du Palais
75055 PARIS CEDEX 01

If hand delivering, go to:
TGI Paris, 11 rue de Cambrai, 75019 Paris

II. Certificat de coutume and certificat de celibat
Both certificates are to be obtained from the embassy/consulate of the foreign partner.

Certificat de coutume states the nationality of the foreign partner, the legal adult age in his/her country of origin, and his/her legal capacity in decision-making. Obtaining this certificate may be a multiple steps process, depending on the criteria set out by the embassy/consulate. In addition, countries that do not recognise PACS (including Malaysia) may refuse to furnish this certificate and instead issue a letter stating that the country’s non-recognition of PACS prohibits them from issuing the certificate. Some greffier/greffière at the TI accepts this letter in place of the certificate, some doesn’t. An acquaintance’s greffière did, ours didn’t. This can be quite a battleground, as we found out during our documentation process, until a suitable compromise was found. (More details below in a separate section for Malaysian applicants.)

The certificat de celibat declares that the foreign partner is legally single and not married nor holding a partnership agreement in his/her country of origin. A supporting documentation is also required, normally in the form of certificate confirming marital status. Where applicable, the certificates must be legalised before submission. The embassy/consulate should be able to provide the most current information pertaining to this matter. Some greffier/greffière may require an attestation sur l’honneur that the foreign partner is single given a previous marriage or partnership may be undertaken outside of his/her country of origin and not registered with the relevant authority.

III. Attestation de non-inscription au répertoire civil (resident > 1 year)
By far the most straight forward certificate to obtain, this certificate confirms that the foreign partner is not under any decision of guardianship or curatorship according to the civil registration section. The request for this letter can be by done by email to rc.scec@diplomatie.gouv.fr with the following information: surname, first name(s), date of birth, place of birth, current address.

The request may also alternatively be obtained by sending a letter to:
Ministère des affaires étrangères et européennes – Service central de l’état civil
11, rue de la Maison-Blanche
44941 Nantes cedex 09
Fax: 02 51 77 36 99


Effective management of PACS process

In order to help manage the PACS process to run as smoothly as possible, I suggest following the steps listed below.

  1. Foreign partner to obtain extract of birth certificate and certificate confirming marital status from home country/embassy/consulate (although not all embassy/consulate could provide them). Legalised the documents where applicable.

  2. Translation of documents into French by certified court translator/consular services, and request for issuance of certificat de coutume and certificat de celibat from embassy/consulate based on information stated on certificate confirming marital status.

  3. Foreign partner to (a) identify the local TI to the place of residence, of which the information is used in the form to (b) request for the certificat de non-PACS from the TGI, and to (c) contact Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs for the certificat de non-inscription au répertoire civil if already a resident in France for over 1 year.

  4. At the same time, French partner to contact the TI of his/her place of birth for an integral copy of birth certificate which includes notation of current legal status as single/divorced/widowed/non-PACSed.

  5. Make copies of identity card/passport for both partners, and copy of proofs of communal lives, e.g. rental lease/mortgage/household utility bill (but not mobile phone) with both names.

  6. Prepare the PACS contract and the two mandatory attestations sur l’honneur. Leave them unsigned.

  7. Attend to the local TI, showing all documents, and obtain an appointment. (Our greffière kept our documents until the day of the PACS.)

  8. Attend to the local TI on appointed day and time to run through the documents to ensure that everything is indeed in order, that both parties understood what is involved in a PACS, and sign the contract and declarations. If the foreign partner is unable to communicate in French, a translator should be brought along.

  9. The PACS contract is counter-signed, dated and sealed by the greffier/greffière and returned to the couple. This is the only copy so keep it safely! Receipt(s) may also be requested/issued for purposes including proof of PACS, for collection of PACS certificates, and for immediate inclusion of foreign partner to French partner’s social security and health insurance (if foreign partner does not already have one him/herself) without having to wait until after the PACS certificate is issued.

  10. Collection of PACS certificates – foreign partner at the TGI (by writing or in person at 11 rue de Cambrai, 75019 Paris; Métro: Corentin Cariou), French partner at the TI of his/her place of birth.

Here is a PACS document checklist in PDF which I have prepared and hopefully helps with your paperwork collection process. The documents required are listed in the order they should be prepared so they hopefully remain within valid period by the time of the PACS appointment given. Fill the white boxes with corresponding dates and ignore the grey boxes.


Information for Malaysians intending to get PACSed in France

If you are in Malaysia shortly before your planned PACS, this is the perfect time to get yourself to the Registration Office in Putrajaya to obtain an extract of your birth certificate and a certificate confirming marital status. You can technically request for the birth certificate from any branch of the Registration Office but to confirm your marital status, Putrajaya is the only office that deals with it. Postal request is possible but it is bound to take time. Besides, in order to legalised the certificates, one needs to go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nearby. So to keep things simple, just try to go to Putrajaya once and for all.

Steps to follow:
– Find an Oath Commissioner and make a statutory declaration that you are single.
– Go to the Registration Office; be conservatively dressed or you may be refused entry.
– Request for relevant forms and fill them in.
– Submit to clerk together with proof of identity and payment (RM5 per document).
– Once obtained, head over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
– Legalised the documents so they can be used abroad.

If you are not travelling back to Malaysia anytime soon, a family member/close friend can help obtain the extract of birth certificate and certificate confirming marital status. In order for a proxy to complete all formalities etc at the Registration Office, provide him/her with:
– signed statutory declaration of single-hood at the Malaysian embassy in Paris*
– signed letter of authorisation addressed to proxy to obtain the certificates on your behalf (unless it’s a parent making the request)
– copy of birth certificate that you had from birth / identity card / passport (to play it safe, no harm providing all three, and you can email these if you don’t want to post all your identity relevant paperworks in the mail, which then your proxy can print out)

Your proxy in Malaysia can then follow the steps as stated above – filling in relevant forms, obtain the certificates, legalised them, and post them to you in France. He/she will also have to bring his/her own proofs of identity so the Registration Office can verify against the letter of authorisation and to keep track who have sought information on your behalf.

Back in France, send/bring both documents to the Malaysian embassy for translation, photocopies to be certified and to request for the issuance of certificat de coutume and certificat de celibat. There is a charge of €5 per document, regardless if it’s translation, certification of photocopy or issuance of certificates.

* An important note: although a statutory declaration of marital status is normally straight forward (based on a template given to my brother in Malaysia when he requested for information on obtaining the certificate of marital status), at the embassy in Paris, I was informed that it can only be requested on the basis that I intend to get married. My partner’s information is required for inclusion in the declaration and a copy of his proof of identity was also submitted at that time to the embassy for record keeping. In any case, we ended up not using this statutory declaration (marriage is on the card but just not now for a number of personal reasons, so I did not feel comfortable using it) and therefore did not have a certificate of marital status to enable us to request for a certificat de coutume and a certificat de celibat. We managed to come to an agreement with our greffière separately on how to satisfy this aspect of paperwork requirement.

Bonne chance!!



Category: Ma vie en France

Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

45 scribbles & notes

  1. Chloé says:

    you forgot to mention how you managed to come to an agreement with the greffière though :P and wow, long post indeed!

    • Lil says:

      well that’s pending on individual case so i don’t want to add anything that’s not of use to everyone in general. ;)

  2. Sarah says:

    Wow Lil, this is a great post and would be a great help to any couple in a similar situation! I would have loved something so clear when I was going through the process! :)

    • Lil says:

      thanks sarah! we’ve learned a lot of things the hard way and while i have found articles online on pacs in english, they tend to be just listings of documents needed. while that is helpful, especially if one has trouble understanding the requirements from the gov website, it doesn’t help in knowing what exactly are certain documents about, etc.

      besides, this is my way to give back to the community. another blogger’s help made it possible for us to negotiate with our greffière on substitution to the certificat de coutume!

  3. Edna says:

    Wow, what a helpful resource. Not that I’ll ever get PACSed (English fiance) but will keep this post in mind should anyone ever ask me about getting PACSed! And congrats :)

  4. Nur says:

    Great post Lil. Very educational!

  5. medca says:

    woohoo…congrats again u two ;)

  6. Ann says:

    I’m an old married lady (to an American no less) but this is still excellent info to have on hand for the people who write to me asking for practical information. Also — congratulations!!!

    • Lil says:

      Merci Ann! Feel free to send this post on to anyone who may find it useful. At the very least it should help reducing the stress faced by the couple. Goodness knows F and I consoled ourselves often with chocolates and pastries in order to cope… ;)

  7. Bee Ean says:

    Hi Lilian,

    This is a very informative post. Nice job and congrats!
    Btw, can I share the link of this post in my blog?

    About the birth extract, I needed it when I got married, but I told the Town Hall that Malaysia issues one birth certificate for life. She accepted the copy with translation from the Embassy of Malaysia.

    • Lil says:

      Thanks Bee Ean! And feel free to share this link as you wish :)

      I’m afraid it’s not that lenient anymore nowadays with birth certificate scenario. Even the secu has just changed rules that they want legalised birth certificate! I am in another paperwork battle on this front right now, and I think when it’s finally done, I may write another post on that end of paperworks.

      Maybe it’s also more hell-ish on us living in Paris…?

  8. Sarah says:

    Just thought of this Lil, this link is good for searching for approved translators all over France: http://annuaire-traducteur-assermente.fr/fr/3/annuaire-traduction-assermentee.html

    (Of course, still no Malay/French translator! :) )

  9. Suneil says:

    Wow! You went to a whole lot of trouble to write this down. Did you keep notes through the process and then combine those into this post or is this all mostly from memory after the event?

    oh and Congratulations again! :D

    • Lil says:

      yes, i do have some notes – my moleskine has scribbles of info that i found before the start of the process, then modification of steps that i had to do to incorporate the changes in situation, and trust me, when you’re stuck in a terrible cycle of being passed from one office to another and back because of a piece of document, you will remember it. probably scarred by the experience, until time washes it away with a misty lull… ;)

  10. Helen says:

    Hello there,

    I’ve stumbled across this post and have found it extremely helpful – thank you for thinking to document this!!

    I have 2 quick questions I was wondering if I could pick your brain: do you remember how long it took for the TGI to issue the Certificat de non-PACS? I’m curious to know whether it’s immediate (if in person) or if it takes a few days.

    Also, I’m pretty sure the officer at my local TI said that we could either send in our final bundle documents, or have one person drop them off – does that seem odd? (I ask because that doesn’t seem to line up with your experience.)

    Thanks again for sharing, and also kudos to you guys for navigating the process!!

    Helen

    • Lil says:

      Hi Helen, I received the certificat de non-PACS within a week following a postal request (I sent the request form on 8th Oct, and received the certificate on 15th) so it was pretty quick. I don’t see why you won’t get it immediately if you go in person, providing you have the relevant back-up documents with you, but this is just an assumption on my part.

      That doesn’t seem odd at all. My partner went to the TI and gave them the documents in person (see step 7). We didn’t want to risk there being any problem and by going to the TI in person, we also used the opportunity to check that the documents were ok and that we would be good to go on the day of our PACS.

      Hope these answer your questions and congratulations on your getting PACSed :)

  11. Adel says:

    Hello,
    Me and my partner are planning to get married very soon. He is a french citizen living in paris and i an kuwaiti living in kuwait.. I would really appreciate it if could you tell me the process. In my country same sex marriage and homosexuality is illegal so is it possible for us to still be married? Also considering that i will be eventually living in paris once the marriage is all done..
    Now i know the french admin requires the birth certificate, certificate proving im single and atlast which is quite making me nervous the certificate de coutoum.. Is it possible to get the certificate de coutoum? And how can i get this certificate also i do not want to get this from my embassy as it will put me in alot of trouble is it possible if i get it from the french embassy in kuwait? Just to be safe..

    Thanks :)

    • Lil says:

      Hi Adel – I’m afraid I do not know the details on same-sex marriage paperwork requirements. However, if my understanding about the certificat de coutume is accurate, the French authority asks for it so to verify the custom of the foreign country. If the certificate specifies that same-sex marriage is illegal in the country of the foreign partner, then the French authority will not perform the marriage.

      I don’t know either if the French embassy in Kuwait will be able to issue the certificate to you. Perhaps you can try to just ask for for it without specifying who you’re marrying? Sorry I’m not able to provide any solid advice.

  12. Lilly says:

    Wow now that’s a nice work u’ve done! Wish i would hv stumbled upon this when i was struggling myself. Just a curiosity, how long did u worked on getting pacsé?

    • Lil says:

      It took us a period of about 3 weeks to gather our paperwork and another month or so of waiting for our appointment date.

  13. Leanne says:

    Hello, I’m a Malaysian that’s going to get PACSed tmr, and I just wanted to say this post was extremely helpful! THANK YOU! I wouldn’t have even known where to start. I got everything done in Putrajaya before coming to Paris and the whole process was fairly easy. Out of curiosity, did you celebrate getting PACSed? My partner and I don’t know anyone who has done it and everyone we know expects us to have a party or something.

    Anyway, just wanted to say thank you for the post :)

    • Lil says:

      So glad to hear that this post is helping someone out there. And of course, congrats on your PACS! :)

      (Also, welcome to Paris and hope you’re having fun discovering the city)

      It is really up to the couple to celebrate it or not. Many of our friends/family who got PACSed didn’t, and some even kept it pretty low-key and quiet until months have passed! We had a small party ourselves with our friends though – any excuse to have a lovely evening together, hehehe.

      Depending on the Mairie, certain even organise a small reception at a set date. Ours do that, but we decided not to take part in it.

  14. Absolutely amazing and so incredibly helpful!

    I am looking into the PACS process now with my French BF. Our only issue is the proof of living together since we have changed apartments and we do not have EDF or Telephone proof of address since my electric and all charges are included in my rent at my current place … any advice there? Some sites say that merely a letter stating this and signed by both parties is sufficient. What is your opinion on that?

    Thank you so much for this great post!

    • Lil says:

      Hi Whitney, if you’re currently renting and the charges etc are included, you should present your lease with both your names, and an attestation from your landlord stating that both of you are tenants and charges are included in the rent.

      Having said that, since different mairie (and fonctionnaire) works differently, if you want to be absolutely sure of what he/she may require, I suggest you go in to the mairie in person and clarify it with the person in charge.

      Congrats on your upcoming PACS!

  15. […] happily ever after PACS story from Lilian with all the paper details. And don’t forget to consult with official […]

  16. neni says:

    Hello Lil,

    Thanks a lot for this post! It’s really VERY helpful!

    BTW, for you case, did the TI keep all the documents provided (birth certificates, etc?)

    Thank you very much!

    • Lil says:

      Hi Neni – I don’t know if they systematically do it, but our TI kept all the documents provided, originals included. Good luck with your PACS.

  17. Isabella says:

    Hi Lillian, I am a Malaysian in France and we are considering pacs. But I’m quite confused about the certificat de célibat and certificat de coutume. If Malaysia does not issue this for pacs, what documents did you end up giving instead? Please help me with this! Thanks so much.

  18. Isabella says:

    Sorry I gave the wrong email just now.

    • Lil says:

      Hi Isabella – the Malaysian Embassy provided a letter to state that it doesn’t provide the certificates for PACS purposes. As far as I know, the Australian Embassy does the same too (as per a friend’s experience). After that, it’s up to the greffièr(e) to accept it or not as a substitute. Ours didn’t, our friend’s did.

      I ended up giving a copy of certificat de coutume that belongs to another friend (who got it for her marriage paperwork), and I wrote an attestation sur l’honneur with wordings dictated by our greffière as substitute to the certificat de celibat.

      This really varies from one mairie to another. You should consult your greffièr(e) to know exactly what he/she wants to see from your set of paperwork.

      Good luck!

  19. André says:

    Hi Lilian,

    Awesome post! This has been very helpful! I’m from your neighboring country (the Philippines) and my girlfriend and I are planning to get PACsed very soon.

    I have a few questions to ask you…perhaps you know the answer to them.

    1. I have a few issues with my birth certificate (there was a wrong spelling) since there was an error initially in them, and I’m afraid that if I get the equivalent of a certificat de célibat from the Philippines it will have the same error. Do you think an attestation sur l’honneur from my end stating that I’m one and the same person and that the greffier in the Philippines made a mistake would do the trick?

    (I’m trying to get the mistake fixed…but it’s complicated to do from overseas, and I know it’ll take a bit of time).

    2. I’m trying to understand to what extent the PACS helps in getting the visa vie privée familiale (it’s one of the reasons my partner and I decided to get PACSed).

    I’m planning to change the type of titre de séjour that I got (it’s a bit more flexible and all) to the aforementioned visa. We’ve been living together for 7 months now and my current visa is expiring in July (meaning we would’ve been living together for a year and a month by the time my visa expires). Would you know if that is sufficient for the prefecture?

    Thank you very much in advance for your help.

    • Lil says:

      Hi André,

      1. I honestly don’t have an answer to this. You will need to discuss with the greffier(e) in charge of your case on what’s acceptable or not.

      2. It does help in obtaining the CdS vie privée et familiale. You will need to show at least 1 year of vie commune – https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F31039 – (which you will have, just about) and be able to justify that so I hope you have all paperworks re apartment in both names (e.g. lease, quittance de loyer, bills), have joint bank account, and if you have additional proof of your relationship beyond the 13 months of living together (e.g. travel tickets with both names), the better case you can make. As soon as you are PACSed, don’t forget to file your next tax return together too. You should also have social security cover (if you have your own, all the better, otherwise you can have a joint one with your partner after the PACS).

      However, do note that unlike marriage, PACS does not confer automatic right to residency in France; it is an additional proof of stability of your private life with a French partner and that you are asking this to be taken into consideration when the prefecture evaluate your application to remain in the country.

      In general it also helps if you are employed and/or in healthy financial state (i.e. not on unemployment claims, have good level of savings) although this is not systematically asked for. Also, show your integration into the French society – speaking French, professional interactions, etc. I know of someone who was asked to produce attestations from friends and (French) family to show the strength of the coupledom and integration into the society (but that’s more an exception than rule as far as I know of).

      Good luck!

  20. […] & Destinations on getting PACSed in France (and the cost of living in […]

  21. […] stayed by getting sponsored by a company (only an option for higher level positions), or getting PACSed (civil marriage) or married—both which involve their own rounds of […]

  22. Patrick says:

    Hi Lilian – A really great and detailed post. I have a follow-up question: Would the French partner lose his/her social benefits as a result of the PACS. For example if he/she receives child care and support from the government?

    Thanks

    • Lil says:

      Hi Patrick – sorry this is very long overdue response. In any case, I do not know enough of that aspect to answer your question, since I don’t have any children and not currently seeking any social benefits.

  23. Chloe says:

    Hi Lillian, greetings from ??? ?. I’ve been preparing for my PACs since Jan 2016 and my bf & I are finally doing it in Nov, and boy it took me so much trouble, time and effort. I’ve been reading from so many websites/blogs and I finally stumbled upon your blog, with the awesome PACs checklist – its like finding the holy grail! Anyway, thanks for this very insightful post, and your checklist confirms that I have everything in place. Loving your blog & your photos are beautifully taken! Cheers.

  24. Renee says:

    hi Lillian, thank you for your useful post. I am doing PAC with my french bf. And just went to embassy to request the statutory declaration. And according to the officer, I need to send it to the marriage and divorce department in putrajaya in order to obtain the Marital status letter and this letter has to be legalized by the ministry of foreign affair in putrajaya. It is tedious for me because I’m in Paris now and my family not in malaysia. Is it any other advise to get the certificate de costume.

    • Lil says:

      I’m afraid I do not have an easy answer for you. Maybe try negotiating with the greffier(e) who deals with your paperwork if this can be waived or be substituted? Good luck!

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