The French spouse visa: Everything you need to know!

You have been dating your French partner for some time now and you are planning to move to France? In bi-national relationships, expatriation and marriage are often the only way to continue making plans together in the long term.

You may already be married to your French partner but never moved to France… if you are planning to get married to relocate to France to join your French other-half, you may be wondering what your options are and how to apply for a French spouse visa.

I will detail for you the main options to request a French spouse visa whether you are already married or planning to marry your French lover.

CAUTION: This article doesn’t apply to Algerian nationals married to a French citizen as Algerians. Algerian nationals depend on a special bilateral agreement; therefore the rules stated below do not apply. All the visas and residence permits for all other non-EU nationalities fall under the CESEDA (Code de l’Entrée et du Séjour des Étrangers et du Droit d’Asile).

birds in front of Eiffel tower

Request a long-stay French spouse visa

If you are a non-EU citizen already married to your French other half and are planning to spend more than 90 days and maybe settle in France, you should request a long-stay visa (Visa Long Séjour, commonly called VLS). The request should be done at the French consulate of your current country of residence. This can be your home country, but also the country where you currently hold a valid residence permit.

The VLS is the first visa you should request to settle in France.

What is a Long Stay Visa (or VLS)?

The long stay visa (VLS) is also called Visa type D. As you are married to a French citizen, you should request the Marriage Long Stay Visa, called Visa de Long Séjour (VLS) valant Titre de Séjour (TS) “Vie Privée et Familiale” also called “pour époux de Français”.

The visa D authorises you to enter France and remain for more than 3 months and up to one year maximum.

Yes, a VLS-TS, you might be wondering what it means… The TS stands for Titre de Séjour (Residence Permit), this means that while your visa (VLS-TS) is valid, you do not need to request a residence permit to remain in France. Your French spouse visa stands for a long stay visa and as a residence permit. The VLS-TS Vie Privée et Familiale allows you to work in France without any restriction.

How to request a French spouse visa?

First, you need to create an online account on France-Visas to fill in the visa request form and check the required documents that vary from one nationality to another. So, it is essential you check the specific documents required for your nationality with the French consulate or France Visas depending on your country of residence.

Some common documents requested for this French spouse visa are the full copy of your French marriage certificate, either made by the French administration (depending on where you got married) or translated and legalised or apostilled (if applicable depending on your nationality). Also, your partner will have to provide supporting documents to prove his or her French nationality, for example, a birth certificate.

You will make an appointment with the French Consulate of your country of residence on the France-Visas platform.

You will need to go in person to the appointment with all the requested documents and the request form fully completed and signed. Your biometric data will be collected if this is your first visa request to France.

If you need more guidance to nail your French spouse visa request, you can receive more information on the Dream to Reality programme by providing your contact details just below.


    • You can make your visa request at the soonest 3 months before your planned travel date
    • The consulate advises not to book any flight before your visa is approved
    • It can take between 3 weeks to 3 months to receive the French spouse visa depending on the consulates or France visa offices.
    • You can follow the progress of your visa request on your France-Visas account.
Note that the PACS (the French civil partnership) doesn't give an automatic right to a visa to come to France, the way the marriage does. It will be taken into account but it doesn't guarantee the visa (or residence permit) approval.
expat in france
wedding rings

What to do when you arrive in France with your French spouse visa?

The VLS-TS Vie Privée et Familiale exempts you from requesting a residence permit the first year in France, but you absolutely need to register with OFII (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration) and validate your visa online within the first 3 months following your arrival in France.

You will need to provide the information:

    • your visa information
    • your date of entry in France
    • your address of residence in France
    • your credit/debit card to pay the residence permit delivery tax (250€ for spouses of French citizen)

A receipt will be provided, you will need to provide this document as the tax proof of payment. Make sure you save this document. It will be requested to collect your residence permit.

You will also be called in for an appointment with OFII to sign a Contract of Integration (CIR) and also to attend a medical appointment.

CAUTION: If you do not validate your visa within the 3-month time frame, you will no longer be staying legally in France.

What to do when your VLS-TS is about to expire?

How to avoid having to request another French spouse visa?

It has now been almost one year that you live in France with your French partner and your VLS-TS will expire in the next 2 months.

To remain in France, you need to request a residence permit “Vie privée et familiale”.  There is no need to return to your home country.

During the first year residing in France and within the two months preceding the visa expiry date, you need to request a pluriannual residence permit at your local Prefecture. The pluriannual permit is valid for 2 years.

Once you submit your residence permit request at the Prefecture, and only if your file is complete, you will be provided with a receipt (called récépissé). The récépissé authorises you to remain in France for the dates indicated on the document, usually 4 months, sometimes 6 for the initial request.

For most residence permit requests, the recépissé does not authorise to work, however, the Vie Privée et Familiale permit request does, unless stated otherwise on the récepissé.


CAUTION: The recépissé for a first residence permit request (opposed to a residence permit renewal récepissé), doesn’t authorise to travel outside France. If you leave the country, this document will not allow you to get back in and depending on your nationality you will need to request a visa.

List of documents to request the “Vie privée et familiale” residence permit

The “Vie Privée et Familiale” long stay visa sometimes called the French spouse visa comes under the Code of the entry and residence regulation and asylum right (Code de l’entrée et du séjour des étrangers et du droit d’asile – Ceseda).

  • Personal records:
    • passport (pages with the personal data and the entry stamp) ;
    • birth certificate with filiation ;
    • a marriage certificate and birth certificate with filiation of your children if applicable (original documents + French translations by a sworn translator by a French court of Appeal).
  • Proof of residence (less than 3 months old) stating the spouse name:
    • If you are a tenant:
      – an energy bill such as electricity, gas, water, landline phone, Internet in your name. CAREFUL: the mobile phone bill is usually not accepted.
      – Lease or rental contract (less than 3 months old), successive rental payment receipts,
    • If you are staying at a hotel or a residence: proof of residence + receipt for the previous month rent.
    • If you are being hosted (in the case that your name is not on the rental contract): a hand-written certificate of residence signed by your host + your host’s last energy bill + a copy of your host’s proof of identity.
  • 3 ID photos respecting the Prefecture requirements, format 35 mm x 45 mm
  • Proof of the residence permit tax payment (to be given when collecting the permit). See more information below.
  • Your OFII CIR attestation (Contrat d’Intégration Républicain)
  • Your OFII medical certificate (to provide when collecting your residence permit)
  • A sworn statement certifying you do not live in polygamy (if you are from a country where polygamy is legal)
  • A marriage certificate (original documents + French translations by a sworn translator by a French court of Appeal)
  • Proof of French nationality of your partner: valid French National ID card or a certificate of French nationality of less than 6 months.
  • A community of living: one sworn statement signed by both partners certifying that you live together with proving documents covering one-year duration (such as rental contract under both names, energy bills under both names, joint bank account details…)

NOTE: If the community of living has been interrupted due to violence all possible proofs should be provided (filling of a complaint, partner’s conviction for violence, testimonies, medical attestations…). Other reasons for interruption of the community of living are usually not accepted to request the “Vie Privée et Familiale” residence permit.

marriage in France
Photo Credit: Norbu Gyachung

Situation #2: You are going to marry your French partner


You are getting married, but before settling durably in France, you will have to go through some lengthy red tape. Getting married in France or abroad will impact the type of administrative process and trips.

So better take everything into account before booking a venue.

You are planning to get married in France with your French partner

Option 1: Coming to France with a short-stay visa (3 months tourist visa)

I won’t hide it, this option will imply more administrative processes, travels and expenses, depending on your nationality. But sometimes, personal life and dreams are a priority!

It is totally legal to come to France with a tourist visa to get married. There is no specific marriage visa in France.

The recommended option will be to go back to your home country before your 90 days tourist visa expires to request a VLS-TS Vie Privée et Familiale at the French consulate to be able to come back to France with the relevant visa.

There is another route, some people choose to take but it is not recommended as it implies that you will remain for a minimum of 3 months without the legal right to live in France. You can request a Vie Privée et Familiale residence permit in France after 6 months of living in France with your French partner. To be able to do this, you need to meet the 3 cumulative following conditions as per art. L423-2 of the CESEDA:

1. Your marriage should have taken place in France

This shouldn’t be a problem as it was your initial plan and maybe your dream. This required quite a bit of anticipation and preparation. Make sure you contact the City hall a few months before, I recommend 6 months, if you can, not to get delayed as there is paperwork that will take time to receive.

Leave this to your French partner to worry about it 😉 The process is detailed here in French.

Depending on your nationality, there can be extra documents to provide. You should reach out to the French consulate or the French city hall to have the relevant information applying to your situation.

2. Prove your legal entry in France

As soon as you arrive at the French airport, you should request a “déclaration d’entrée sur le territoire français” as you didn’t automatically go through customs. You can either do it at the customs desk at the airport or at the Police station within the first 3 days following your arrival.

You must have a stamp proving your entry in France and if applicable a short stay type C visa (some nationalities are exempted from a tourist visa, please check with the French consulate of your country of residence). If your flight is direct into France, your passport will be stamped in France.

However, if you had a connecting flight and your first entry into the Schengen zone is another country than France, you will not be stamped in France as required for your coming administrative process.

3. Prove 6 months of a prior community of living

Type of documents that can be provided to prove community of living (it is essential the documents are under both names):

    • French tax notice
    • Energy bills (electricity, gas, internet)
    • Rental contract or title of the property
    • Insurance certificate
    • Pictures of the couple together
    • Emails, SMS, What’s app, any type of communication that prove that you were living together in France
    • Testimonies of relatives, friends… this is a non-exhaustive list.

If you decide anyhow to take this route, you will need to pay an extra 200€ via fiscal stamp for the regularisation of your status (50€ to be paid at the moment of the request (non-refundable) and the rest when collecting the residence permit.

If you plan to come to France with another long term visa, such as the EU Blue Card, depending on your possibilities and professional options. You will therefore be able to stay in France after the wedding and then ask for a change of status to Vie Privée et Familiale.

As with every change of status, it can be done within 2 months before the visa expiry. Some people choose to request a Visitor long-stay visa if no other long term visa meets their possibilities.

Be aware that the visitor visa does not allow you to work (opposed to the Vie Privée et Familiale one) and you also need to prove that you will be able to afford to live in France without income.

Option 2: You are in France under another residence permit

In that case, you can also request a Vie Privée et Familiale residence permit if you meet the 3 above stated conditions.

Within two months before the expiry of the current permit, you need to request a change of status.

This means requesting another type of residence permit instead of requesting a renewal of your current permit. You can follow the process explained in the first section.

French flag
Photo credit: Anthony Choren

You are planning to get married outside of France with your French partner

This solution will allow you to request directly a VLS-TS to the French consulate of your country of residence and follow the process as explained in Option #1 and will avoid you to request a short stay visa (depending on your nationality as some nationalities are exempted).

This can make you save both time and money! For this, you have 2 possibilities:

Getting married via the French administration (Embassy or French consulate)

Getting married at the French consulate or the French Embassy (depending on the countries) means that your marriage will automatically be recognised in France.

A French marriage certificate and a Livret de Famille will be provided to you and you will be able to use these documents to request the Vie Privée et Familiale VLS-TS as explained in the first section of this article.

CAUTION: It is only in rare cases that a marriage may be celebrated in a French embassy or consulate.

Please check with the French Embassy of your country if they can perform it and the requested documentation that can vary from one country to another before making your plans.

Some documents specifically requested when getting married abroad (whether you choose to marry with the French administration or the local one) can be quite long to receive as this is the case of the Certificat de capacité à mariage required for your French partner. This certificate can take 2-3 months to receive so get ready as early as you can.

Getting married with the local administration

You made the choice to marry at home, or in a third country, in both cases, you are getting married outside France in front of the local civil registrar. In order for the marriage certificate to be recognized in France, the registrary must be transcripted by the French consulate where the marriage took place. To know the relevant process, contact directly the consulate as it can differ from one country to another.

Once your marriage certificate has been transcripted, you will be provided with a French marriage certificate and a Livret de Famille. You will therefore be able to submit a Vie privée et Familiale visa request as explained in the first section.

In short

Well done!

You’ve gone through this lengthy process! You will need to request a renewal for the first 3 years before being able to request a 10-year residence permit as a French citizen spouse if you meet the requirements.

You may also be able to request French nationality after 4 years of marriage, sometimes 5 but this would be a topic for another article. Let me know if you will be interested in an article about the 10-year residence card in the below comments.

French Spouse Visa FAQ

Can I live in France if my spouse is French?

Yes, you can live in France after requesting a French Spouse visa (called Vie Privée et Familiale) from the French Consulate of your current country of residence. Once arrived in France, you will need to validate your French Spouse Visa into a residence permit.

Can I work with a French Spouse Visa?

Yes, the French Spouse Visa (called Vie Privée et Familiale) allows you to work without requesting a work authorisation from the DIRECCTE (the local division of the French Ministry of Labour). However, if you come to France with a Visitor's visa, you will not be authorised to work in France.

How long does it take for a French spouse visa to process?

It can take between 3 weeks to 3 months to receive the French spouse visa depending on the consulates or France visa offices. You can follow the progress of your visa request on your France-Visas account.

Can I stay in France if I get married?

Yes. If you can come to France under another visa, you will be able to change your status at your local Prefecture. There is also the possibility to come to France on a tourist visa to get married. There is no specific marriage visa for France.

What are the conditions to apply for a French spouse permit directly in France?

You can request a French spouse visa called Vie Privée et Familiale residence permit in France after 6 months of living in France with your French partner. You need to meet the 3 cumulative following conditions: prove that the marriage took place in France, your legal entry in France and 6 months of community of living in France with your French spouse.


  • Emy

    Thanks for the article. Please I’m a wife of a French citizen who just arrived with long stay visa. Am I to request residence permit or validate first?

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      You need to validate it as explained in the post. I invite you to read under “What to do when you arrive in France with your French spouse visa?”

  • Chrisize

    Thanks for all the fantastic info on your website, however, I can’t seem to figure out my (slightly unique) case.

    -I’ve been living for several years in France on a long-stay visitor visa.

    -My partner was recently nationalized as French.

    -We were recently married (but after she received French citizenship). The marriage was not in France, if that matters.

    I’m currently in the process of renewing my visa, however, I’d eventually like to switch over to a VPF visa. However, I can’t find any information about how I would do this! Any help is much appreciated.

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hi Chris,
      Since you didn’t get married in France, you need to have your marriage transcribed so that it is recognised in France.
      Now that you are married to a French citizen, you can request a change of status to the VPF status as normal once you have a full file.
      All the best to you,

  • cristy

    my boyfriend is polish and resident in france and im from phillippine is there any way that he can get visa for me?and we are planning to get married.

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hi there, you are the only one that can request a visa for yourself at the French consulate in your country of residence.
      Once you are married, you could request a visa as a spouse of an EU citizen.
      Best to you,

  • David

    Hi, thanks for this wonderful article which highlights a lot of important information.

    I will be starting my Licence in France this September, I am originally from South Africa, and will marry my French fiance shortly afterwards. I have obtained a student visa that will allow being in France for the 2022-2023 academic year. I would like to know if I will be allowed to continue my studies while on the Vie Privée et Familiale?

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hi David,
      Yes, the visa vie privee et familale allows you to study and also to work without any restriction. As a vie privee et familale visa holder you can work without having to request work authorisation. This is with no doubt one of the best visas to have.
      You should request a change of status at the Prefecture in France 2 months before the expiry of your student visa when you meet all the requirements to request the French spouse visa.
      I hope this helps.

  • Fraser

    Great article. My wife is French but has dual British/French nationality and I am British. We have a home in France and at present we move between the UK and France but limit our time to 90 days in 180. I am still working in the UK but want to be able to move freely between the UK and France without having to count my days. Can I get a visa that will enable me to do so and , if so, would I need to have private health insurance?

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hi Fraser,
      Being married to a French citizen your only option will be to request a visa vie privee et familiale than comes with the OFII pathway obligation (french classes, civics classes, medical exam). The other visas are ruled out for spouses of French citizens.
      The only other way I can think of to have this freedom to come and go would be to request dual citizenship, since the luxury of this freedom only applies to EU citizens.

  • amber



    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hi Amber,
      If you reside in France, you need to declare your taxes. Then, declaring taxes doesn’t necessarily mean paying taxes. Only the tax office or a tax advisor can tell.
      Good luck!

  • John Lamb Jr

    Enjoy your blog. I plan to apply for a spouse visa from the US Consulate in LA (US national married to a French national). I have the following questions about applying for, and receiving a “Carte de Sejour for Private and Family Life” after receipt of my spouse visa.
    1. I am 78 years old … is there an age exemption from the obligation to take OFII French language coursetaks?
    2. Five years ago, I attended a French language course at Eurocentres Paris and was issued a certificate attesting to my competence to understand written and spoken French at the A2 level. Will this certificate exempt me from taking any language courses otherwise reqired by OFII?

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hello John,
      Thank you for your nice feedback!
      To answer your questions:
      1- I’m not aware of any exception, but this is a question you could ask during your OFII appointment
      2- OFII requires an A1 level at the time of the appointment. So I advise you to bring your language certificate at your OFII appointment. You may be able to avoid the classes if this is what you want.

  • Rob

    I am a french resident and would like my girl;firned for the US to join me here. Is tbhis possible if we get married in france? If so, what sort of visa will she need?

    Thank you,

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hi Rob,
      My entire article actually replies to your question.
      And I give you several options, now you just need to choose the best option for you. All the best to you both

  • Jill

    Hello! I’m an American woman who will be marrying a French man. He lives in France and I will be moving there next year. But, I don’t know where to begin. Could you please let me know what documents I will need? It’s all a bit overwhelming. I’d appreciate any help you can give me. Thank you!

  • Hannah

    Hello, thank you again for all of your help. I am an American married to a French national and I am preparing to go to the embassy to ask for my first visa. A couple of questions about documentation needed at the embassy – do I need my family book I was given at our wedding in France, and how recent does the marriage certificate need to be?

  • M

    Hi thank you so much for the detailed article on the process. This really means a lot to me as I will be moving to France soon. I do, however have a few questions, if it’s okay with you. My spouse is French and I am British, we decided that the most suitable option for us is to settle down in France.
    However the move is causing me some anxiety and in general I don’t think I understand the full process.

    Firstly your article answered one of my questions; I can work on the spouse visa which is great!
    Main concern; Would you know if when i apply for my carte de sejour,so when I’m 8 months in France, i will need to pass French language? I speak no French at all and i understand from my research that when you have a meeting with OFII they will examine your French and do medical checks – if they think you will need French classes they will offer classes to improve your French. Of course I would very much like to learn French and I am currently learning the language and will try my best but my main concern is whether i will need to have a certain proficiency in French language to be able to able to stay in France. And do we require a further appointment with OFII and do the examination and medical again?
    I appreciate any advice from you

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hi M,
      The French language level is not a requirement to be granted the visa.
      The OFII French assessment test will determine if you need French classes or not. Attendance of these classes will be mandatory to have your visa renewed.
      Best to you,

  • Sol

    Greetings, I am currently in France with a tourist visa. I married my French wife in France. I am Argentinian, we have all the necessary documents for the “Vie Privée et Familiale” visa but now that the Art. L-211-2-1 of the CESEDA has been derogated I do not know how I can apply for the visa without having to travel back to my country, which involves a lot of money and time. I would be very grateful if you could advise us.

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hello Sol,
      The CESEDA (immigrations laws) have been totally renumbered in May 2021, with some changes too. The articles you are looking for is now numbered L. 234-1. You should follow the instructions in this post that are still valid. Good luck to you!

  • Virginia

    The article is great, thank you so much.

    The article is great, thank you very much.
    I would like to ask you what could be the best option for me.
    I am from El Salvador and I have a visa to live in Dublin for 6 months, my fiancé is French and we would like to get married in Dublin (for a symbolic reason) but we are currently living in Switzerland and we want to stay here (we are in the process of getting the residence permit but it will take us a while).

    We have been thinking if it is better to get married in France to make it easier for me to get the spouse visa or if it doesn’t really matter where we do it because the process afterward will be the same.

    What we don’t understand is that we work as self-employed so we don’t plan to stay in France but of course, we are going to go from time to time, is it possible to get the spouse visa under these circumstances or is there another type of visa that might be better?
    To apply for the spouse visa do we have to live there?
    Thank you in advance for your help.

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hello Virginia,
      If you request the French spouse visa, this means that you reside in France and not in Switzerland.
      It is not on and off since you’ll need to go through the OFII process as explained in the post.
      If you choose to live in Switzerland, then the Swiss immigration law will apply.
      All the best,

  • Rowan

    Hi there,

    Thank you for the very informative article. I’m hoping you can give me a bit of extra info please. I am getting married to my French partner and will be returning to my home country (South Africa) after the marriage to get a VLS-TS Vie Privée et Familiale. After the first year when the VLS-TS is finished, I can then apply for the residence permit – one of the documents mentioned is that I need my unabridged birth certificate.
    For my marriage application I need this unabridged birth certificate but it needed to be issued within the last 6 months. Here it does not mention if it must be within the last 6 months or not, do you know if this is the case?

    In South Africa to get this full unabridged birth certificate is not so simple and I already have a couple of copies, so it would be great if I can use the ones I already have, rather than having to return to South Africa to get a new one or pay an agent to do it for me and for a courier to get it to France!

    Thanks, I understand if you don’t have that information, but I thought it would be worth checking 🙂

    All the best and thanks again for the great article

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hello Rowan,
      The law states that a “full copy of the birth certificate (unless you already have a residence permit) with the most recent details” should be provided. Some people will say that it should be less than 3 months in the application of the “with the most recent details” but the 3 months are not specifically stated.
      Now, the certificate issue date is not always mentioned on the birth certificates, it depends on the country.
      You need to make sure that you provide a “full” copy and not an “extract”. You should show an “original” document provided by the South African administration, not a photocopy. We do have the 2 options in France (full certificate vs extract), I don’t know how this would be in South Africa. This basically means that your parents’ information appears on the certificate.
      Also, your birth certificate will need to be apostilled as per the bilateral agreement between France and South Africa.
      The birth certificate is often the document that will trigger delays in delivering the visa as the French embassy will check the authenticity of the document.
      I hope this answers your question.
      Best to you and congratulations on your marriage to come!

    • Caroline

      Hello, Thank you for the helpful information! My VLS-TS spouse visa will expire in April. I have an appointment at my local prefecture on March 31 to request the vie privee et familiale permit. I am traveling out of France on May 28 to return to the US. I will return to France in July. I have 2 questions: Will I receive the residence permit receipt on the day of my appointment at the prefecture? And will this be sufficient to return to France in July? I pose the question as I was told that my VLS-TS spousal visa acts as a resident permit and that I will just be requesting the renewal of the permit. Is this the case or will this be considered my first request for the resident permit? Thank you in advance! I tried research this, but didnt have much luck.