Within society, everyone has a state (an identification) which they do not freely dispose of (one does not change their first name or day of birth as they please…). This status is recorded in the registers of civil status.

A little history…

These registers were put in place by the Villers-Cotterêts ordinance of 1539 (best known for having instituted French as an official language). It was therefore Francis I who entrusted to the men of the Church, being the best placed to do so, the task of listing in registers the births, marriages and deaths of all their parishioners.

From 1792, the French revolution began an anti-clerical turn (nationalized church property, salaried priest, republican holidays substituted for religious festivals, worship of the supreme being ...) which will promote a secular management system of these registers which will be entrusted to town halls and maintained by civil status officers.

Note: There are other registers kept at the TGI of the place of birth of people.

  • The civil repertoire is a register in which are recorded all decisions relating to protected adults (openings, modifications or releases of a guardianship or curatorship regime) as well as modifications to the matrimonial regime (legal separation, etc.). For any person registered in the civil register, the mention "RC" and a number (which refers to the extract of the decision) will appear in the margin on thebirth certificate of the person concerned.
  • Le directory maintained by the civil services of the prosecution which identifies all the openings for the safeguard of justice. These decisions are not mentioned in the civil register or in the civil status registers.

The different civil status registers

There are 3 registers which list for each person:

The birth:

The birth certificate, the declaration period of which has increased from 3 to 5 days since the reform of the law (J21) is established according to the declaration of the father, the mother or any person who attended the birth (midwife, hospital staff, etc.).

The wedding:

The act is drawn up by the civil status services which issue to the spouses at the end of the marriage ceremony a family record book containing an extract from their marriage certificate.

The death:

The death certificate includes the date, time and place of death. It can be issued by the town hall of the place of death of the person or of his last known domicile.

Civil status registers are made up of authentic acts made in duplicate (the second is kept in the TGI and is verified by the public prosecutor).

These acts are authentic until registration of false (it will be necessary to bring a criminal action to demonstrate that the act is false), but they can be corrected.

Modification of registers: marginal entries

All the changes that have occurred in the condition of people during their life (marriage, children, divorce, death, etc.) are entered in the margin of the act: These are marginal mentions.

They are made on the initiative of the civil status services or the persons concerned.

Information on the birth certificate:

  • Recognition of a child: made by the civil status services upon declaration by the parent
  • Marriage: done automatically by the civil status services
  • PACS (conclusion, modification, dissolution): at the request of the TI or the notary
  • Change of first or last name: done automatically by the civil status services
  • Death: automatically by the civil status services

Information on birth and marriage certificates:

  • Divorce, legal separation: by the lawyer or at the request of the interested party on presentation of the court decision

These acts can also be rectified in the event of omission or error.

Correction of civil status documents

If it is a purely material error or omission (name misspelled…). It is up to the prosecutor to ask the civil status service to make the correction.

If the error is likely to modify the status of the persons (declare a male person while it is female, or that this affects the parentage of the person…). The rectification can only take place on a judicial decision.

It is up to the person concerned to seize the president of the TGI if the error can be easily rectified or the Tribunal de Grande Instance, if the modification affects the status of persons (change of parentage, etc.).


The term publicity means that civil status documents can be issued to the public, under certain conditions.

The full copy of marriage birth certificates are issued to the persons concerned.

Death certificates can be issued to anyone who requests them.

The extracts of the various acts are accessible to all.

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