"CERTIFICAT DE COUTUME" AND ATTESTATION DE CELIBAT
When a foreign person wishes to marry in France, certain documents attesting to such foreigner’s capacity to marry must be provided to the Mairie: the certificat de coutume and the attestation de célibat.
What is a certificat de coutume ?
The certificat de coutume is an affidavit prepared by a legal profession or a public officer of the country of origin of the foreign person which explains the applicable law in that country in the French language, and allowing the future spouses and the French Administration to know if their marriage will be recognized in the country of origin.
For instance when an American citizen wishes to marry in France with a French person or another foreign person, he may obtain such certificates from lawyer admitted in the United States.
- What is the purpose of those affidavits?
The purpose of the certificat de coutume and attestation de célibat is to inform the French civil official on the laws governing marriage in the country of origin. These documents allow the officer to establish that the foreign future spouse is indeed unmarried according to the laws of his/her country of origin, since France does not authorize polygamy.
The lawyer preparing the certificat de coutume and attestation de célibat must be certain that no fraud is involved, and must verify the identities of the spouses with review of passports, birth certificates and prior divorce documents before preparing the affidavits. They need not be signed in the presence of the U.S. citizen for whom the affidavits are prepared, so they may be prepared without appointment and by mere sharing of documents by email.
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