Nov 14, 2012
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
- 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)
- Gather the relevant paperwork, bearing in mind date validity.
- Obtain an appointment at the TI.
- Shows up for the appointment and voila!
- Collect the PACS certificate.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Prepare the PACS contract and the two mandatory attestations sur l’honneur. Leave them unsigned.
- Attend to the local TI, showing all documents, and obtain an appointment. (Our greffière kept our documents until the day of the PACS.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.