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  • Stephen Schwanbeck

France Institutes New Requirement for Public Documents Issued Overseas

In order to use a foreign document in France, you need to have it translated by an “expert-traducteur”, such as me. But before that, the original may need to be apostilled or authenticated in your home country to prove that the signature, stamp or seal placed on it is genuine. And to complicate matters more, the translator may have to get their signature authenticated on their translation.


Say you’re a U.S. citizen applying for French citizenship. You’ve gotten an Apostille on your birth certificate and you’ve had it translated into French by an expert-traducteur who has gotten their signature authenticated. All you need to do now is send it in and wait to hear back, right?


Think again. A brand-new requirement just came into force this May 1st.


Pursuant to French decree 2024-87, any public document issued by a foreign country must, along with its translation in French, be provided to the diplomatic or consular agents in order to be legalized.


In international law, document legalization is the process of authenticating a document issued in one country so it can be used in another country. Like an Apostille, legalization only certifies the authenticity of the signature and the capacity of the person who has signed a public document, and, where appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp placed on it. It does not certify the content of the document.


Public documents are defined under the new requirement as:

✔ Documents issued by an authority or an official connected with the courts or tribunals of the State, including those issued by a public prosecutor or a clerk of a court.

✔ Documents drawn up by process servers/bailiffs.

✔ Vital records.

✔ Administrative documents.

✔ Notarial acts.

✔ Official certificates placed on documents signed by persons in their private capacity, e.g. official certificates recording the registration of a document or the fact that it was in existence on a certain date and official and notarial authentications of signatures.



❌ Documents issued in one EU country for use in another EU country (under EU Regulation 2016/1191 on simplifying the requirements for presenting certain public documents in the EU);

❌ Documents issued by countries that have ratified the 1961 Apostille Convention. An Apostille is nevertheless required on the original document prior to translation.


👉 In the example of our U.S. citizen, the new requirement applies because although the U.S.A. is party to the Apostille Convention, it has has not yet ratified it.


In practice

▶ If you currently reside in or are temporarily located in France, you must have the original public document legalized by your home country’s embassy or consulate in France.


▶ If you currently reside in your home country, you must have the original public document legalized by the French embassy or consulate in your home country.


In either case, the official translation must always be provided at the same time as the original.

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