Apostille certification, legalization and translation of your official documents (France)

Chapter 1: Introduction

Published: 31-01-2018



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In various administrative procedures, French authorities will occasionally require civil status (vital statistics) documents, like your birth certificate or a marriage certificate. For instance, to apply for a social insurance number (“numéro de sécurité sociale”), you must provide a copy of your birth certificate issued less than three months earlier. If the document wasn’t issued in France, it must be apostilled or legalized to verify its authenticity.

Indeed, all civil status documents issued by foreign (i.e. non-French) authorities must be apostilled or legalized, except if they are issued by a country exempt of the requirement. A translation must also be provided if the document is not in French.

English speakers can reach out to the assurance maladie and its advice phone line in English.

Should my documents be legalized or apostilled?

  • The legalization of documents is a process with a chain of authentication starting with a notarial certification and culminating in the seal of a consular official of the country in which the documents are to be used. Citizens of the following countries must have their documents legalized:
  • Taiwan (read on, this is a specific case)

An apostille is a certification under the terms of the Convention of 5 October 1961

Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. If the convention applies between two countries, such an apostille is sufficient to certify a document’s validity and removes the need for double certification, by the originating country and then by the receiving country. Citizens of the following countries can have their documents apostilled:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • South Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Russia
  • Uruguay

Translation of documents

If your document isn’t written in French, you MUST have it translated before presenting it to French authorities.
A translation must be attached to civil status documents issued by foreign countries and written in a language other than French. Translation must be done by either:

  • A sworn translator on the list of legal experts of the Tribunaux de grande instance, Cours d’appel et the Cour de Cassation.
  • Consular services of the country that issued the document.

Useful links

The following chapters explain how to get a birth certificate and how to present this document to French authorities based on your country of citizenship.

Table of contents :


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