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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I am an American citizen and my fiance is French. He has a green card. We both live and work in the USA. We are 30 years old and have never been married before.

We are planning on getting married and moving to Paris within the next two years. Ideally, we'd like to be married by next summer (but then we'd want to continue working and living in the USA for another year).

I have several questions about the timeline because we are only able to travel to France once before the civil ceremony takes place next summer (we would be able to go for Christmas).

-My passport expires August 2018. I need to renew it, but I'm also planning on changing my last name.

-I need a copy of my birth certificate sent to me with an apostille. Do I do that in the USA or at the Embassy in France? Whom do I contact? Must it be in person? When and where do I get the official translation of the birth certificate? I heard the Embassy does not provide translation services.

-I will need a certificat de coutume and certificat de célibat. Do I do this in the USA for at the Embassy in France? Will these be translated already?

-My fiance is taking care of the cerificate du notaire and the justificatifs de domicile.

Are there other things I'm neglecting to consider that I should be thinking of?

Merci beaucoup!

Roxane
 

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Hi Roxane,
OK, first questions first - are you asking about the procedures for getting married in France? Or for obtaining a spouse visa? Sounds like you're planning on getting married in France, but correct me if I'm reading your request wrong.

To get married in France, your fiancé will have to contact the mairie (town hall) in the town where he has his residence (or possibly where his parents live). Technically, you can only be married in the town where you have residence, but I know of plenty of folks who use their parents' residence. Otherwise, he needs to establish 40 days of residence wherever it is you hope to have the civil ceremony.

Once you know what town you'll be getting married in, your fiancé (or his parents, if it's their residence) should contact the mairie and ask them for their list of required documents for someone to marry a foreigner. This IS France after all, and the list can vary from one town to the next - not by much, but by enough.

-I need a copy of my birth certificate sent to me with an apostille. Do I do that in the USA or at the Embassy in France? Whom do I contact? Must it be in person? When and where do I get the official translation of the birth certificate? I heard the Embassy does not provide translation services.
You obtain your birth certificate copy from the appropriate office in the state/county/town where you were born. (See Vital Check online if you need help finding how to get a birth certificate.) That certificate then needs to be sent or taken to the state office that does the apostilles. Google "apostille" and the state in which you were born for the exact procedure. The US Consulate has information available on obtaining an apostille in the US https://fr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citize...ns-in-france/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/ (Also general info on marriage in France.)

You get the BC and apostille in the US - and then you get the whole thing translated in France by a "traducteur assermenté" (you can find them in the Pages Jaune - yellow pages in French). Many certified translators will work by e-mail and can usually turn around a document translation like this in a few days to a week or so.
-I will need a certificat de coutume and certificat de célibat. Do I do this in the USA for at the Embassy in France? Will these be translated already?
You obtain these (or a document that serves for both of these) from the US Consulate in Paris. Normally these are forms in both English and French that you fill in and get stamped or otherwise certified at the Consulate.
-My fiance is taking care of the cerificate du notaire and the justificatifs de domicile.
For the marriage, the certificat du notaire is most likely to show what regime you're being married under if it's not the "standard" one. Make sure you understand any regime change (pun intended) as you'll have to sign a contract if it's not the default regime. The French marital regimes are a bit tricky at first, but ultimately enable you to understand what you're getting yourself into financially.
-My passport expires August 2018. I need to renew it, but I'm also planning on changing my last name.
Easiest to change your name on the passport when you renew - but then again, you can't change names until the wedding has happened and you have your livret de famille in hand (or other marriage certificate). However, do refer to the information on passports on the Consulate website: https://fr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/ You will have to have three months of validity on your passport past your intended departure date (from Schengen), which means you're going to have to decide how you want to handle your passport renewal. The easiest seems to be that you should renew your passport early so that you have plenty of time left on it when entering France to get married. Then, refer to this page https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/services/correction.html and click on the drop down for "Change your name" - as long as you make the change within one year of renewing it, you won't have to pay anything for them to make the change.

I think that covers your questions, but don't hesitate to holler as further questions come up.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Name Change

I have been married to a French guy for 2 years now.. we have been immigrating in between the US and France (long story..), but if you are open to advice: don't change your name until you know which country you're living in on at least a 3 year basis because updating your social security card, passport, DL, and various international addresses, AND proof of occupancy with electric bills and banks will be too much trouble. You need every one of those documents to be in working order for your immigration. Don't let a bureaucrat get confused!

In France, once you are legally married under French law, you can employ his name at will as a nom de usage for your checks or bills or whatever. American law makes you legally change it, and you don't even plan to be in the US.

I promise it's more trouble than it's worth.
 

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Other thoughts:

We did a PACS in the USA, which requires many of the same documents as a marriage. I got a lot of my certificates from a dual-licensed French/US lawyer. Check out Dominique Lemoine in Atlanta, GA. (770) 351-0099

As Bev alluded to, there are two sets of laws governing your upcoming marriage. Understand clearly from this forum that you and your husband will be most at peace (if you will) if you clearly grasp what American marriage and French marriage entail from an administrative point of view.

The good news: both countries honor each other's marriages. The complicated news: France expects you to register your intention to marry through the bannes system before you actually have the ceremony as a part of their tradition. If you skip this part, you buy yourself a world of trouble for France to recognize your marriage as totally binding under their law, which entitles you to a visa. If you want to be together in France based on your legal relationship, really follow their rules.
 

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Has US law on name changes changed that much? Used to be that you could use any name you wanted as long as there was no intend to defraud anyone. Sure, you had to notify your various accounts if you wanted the name changed on your accounts. But that was a clerical thing, not really a legal name change.

I do know that you MUST change your name on your US Social Security account to match the name you use to file your US income taxes. I neglected that little detail for something like 18 years after my divorce, and it was quite the "challenge" to justify the change back to my birth name - but ultimately it went through.

Yeah, I must say that, if you're planning on moving to France, just keep your "own" name for the time being. Once you get here, it becomes so, so much easier to use whichever name you want.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Hi Bev,

In the end, I haven't found out. I just always want whatever application I am making to be clear, and I seem to need my passport every 3 months for this or that. Just not a great time to send it away to get updated, particularly when I was abroad in France.

P.L.
 

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OK, my turn to add a few thoughts to what Peche Laura has said:

If you're getting married in France, you need to spend a couple weeks or so in France before the scheduled date for the wedding in order to get the necessary documents (mostly from the US Consulate). At some mairies, there is also a required interview with the mayor or one of the adjoints prior to the marriage. After the marriage takes place, however, you should have your Livret de Famille within a couple of days.

If you get married in the US, you run into the matter of having to post the banns through the French Consulate and then applying for your Livret de Famille through the consulate. This document can take several weeks or months to obtain. But you absolutely need the Livret de Famille in order to get your spouse visa when you decide to move to France.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Yes, we did what was asked, and things were smooth. I have heard other couples have hit road-bumps, but here is the basic timeline for an American wedding:

-the French citizen contacts the consulate closest to the wedding and alerts them that he wants to get married. The consulate staff literally prints the names in the couple, their intention to wed, and tapes/staples this announcement to a peg board in a lobby very few people see. If no one alerts the French consulate staff that this marriage cannot take place because one of the two parties is already married or kidnapped or under some kind of duress(really), then you can get married. You will receive a letter to this effect 6--8 from the posting.
-get marriage license, get married (yay). Register event at local US probate courthouse, so you are married under US law. Get a certified, signed, magic copy of this registration and send it to the consulate in Washington US with a translation into French from an approved translator.
-The DC people will read over this event, then issue a livret de famille from DC and send it to wherever you are. We were in Paris and got it in the mail.

:roll:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi!

I can't believe this is actually happening this week... My fiance and I are here for the summer and we are planning on drooping off out dossier on Friday.

Any idea what questions they will ask us? I want to plan my answers in French...

Also, do I have to be a resident here (I'm not, nor is my fiance)? Should I tell them I'm planning on moving here? What should my fiance say? He is a resident in the USA (on a Green card), but he owns property here and his family is here too. If they ask us where we live, what should we tell them?

Merci beaucoup !

Roxanne
 

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I was officially married to my spouse in California about 10 years ago. At that time you could choose any name you wanted as Bev says. As a CPA I can tell you an issue newly married folks face is that when filing you tax return electronically the name on the return must match the name that the Social Security Administration has.. Most times, usually the wife, attempts to use her new name to file but the filing is rejected because she didn't go to the SSA and change her name... We can just resubmit with the SSA recognized name but it's something to be aware of.
 

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Hi!

I can't believe this is actually happening this week... My fiance and I are here for the summer and we are planning on drooping off out dossier on Friday.
Where, exactly, are you dropping off your dossier? Normally it has to be at the mairie of the town in which one or the other of you is resident - or, perhaps, in the town where one's parents live.

Any idea what questions they will ask us? I want to plan my answers in French...
They won't ask the questions when you drop off your dossier - but if and when the schedule the wedding, you may have to do an interview with the mayor (or one of the adjoints) as the "foreign" member of the couple.
Also, do I have to be a resident here (I'm not, nor is my fiance)? Should I tell them I'm planning on moving here? What should my fiance say? He is a resident in the USA (on a Green card), but he owns property here and his family is here too. If they ask us where we live, what should we tell them?
As I mentioned, you have to apply to the mairie of the town where one of you is living - or where his family lives. It only takes something like 40 days to establish residence in a town for residence purposes, so if you're staying with his parents, then fine.

Did you ask at the mairie for their list of what documents you need to submit (especially considering that you're a foreigner)? Each mairie has their own peculiarities as to what they require, so you may find they won't accept your dossier until you have all the necessary paper. And, you'll have to schedule a date in the local salle des mariages (in the mairie).

Just don't be disappointed if they send you off to collect a few more documents before they'll accept your dossier and schedule your wedding.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi there,

So we have put all of the necessary documents in order in our dossier. The one road block we're hitting has to do with the justicatif domicile documents. I have an attestation d'hebergement from my fiance's parents (we are both included in the letter). In the letter, it says I have been living at their apartment with them since end of May. We then have my fiance's dad's ID and electricity bills.

However, we do not have our own individual justicatif domicile docs (gas bill, water bill, etc.). My fiance has a bank statement, but I have nothing but a cell phone bill.

Will this get us by do you think?
 

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Oh fooey! Just wrote you a response and it somehow got lost in the ozone when I tried to post it. Oh well, try, try again.

I know they say they won't take a mobile phone bill, but if it's all you have, you may have to go with that. When you turn in the dossier, they will probably go through it before they accept it, and if they have a problem with the mobile phone bill, they'll hand the whole thing back to you to "complete" before they accept it.

At this point you may have to negotiate a bit. Explain the "herbergement" situation - that you're staying with your inlaws-to-be and don't have your name on any utilities other than your mobile phone bill and then ask them for their recommendation about what to do. It may come down to your providing a bill from your address back in the US, which is fine in a pinch. Under normal circumstances it's perfectly normal for one member of the couple to have a different residence prior to the actual wedding. (Well, maybe not so much these days, but you get my drift...) But let them suggest the best way to proceed.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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