Carrying out legal instruments in France when living abroad

Carrying out legal instruments in France when living abroad
Carrying out legal instruments in France when living abroad


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Expatriates may need to resolve certain legal issues, with implications in France, but without needing to return there. This may involve taking out a mortgage guarantee on a property located in the country or authorising an endowment. Fortunately, the consular lawyer can remedy this.

Who to contact for drawing up a power of attorney while abroad?

In the case of a power of attorney, you need to appoint an authorised agent who will represent you before a French notary. Depending on the instruments to be placed, according to the Notaires de France website, French law requires the power of attorney to adopt a specific form.

  • In the event that the authenticity of an instrument is mandatory, the power of attorney given to an authorised agent must be received, under pain of being declared void, in authentic form. This is the case in particular for accepting an endowment.
  • In other situations, the power of attorney may be given by private agreement. For example, to sell a building.

French consuls carry out notarial functions in many countries. However :

  • The notarial powers of diplomatic agents are no longer exercised in countries of the European Union, the European Economic Area, Switzerland, Andorra, the Vatican and Monaco.
  • There are also countries where compliance with formalism comes up against local law, such as in the Scandinavian countries.

If a power of attorney has been drawn up in a foreign language, it is important to translate it into French.

What authentic instruments can be carried out by power of attorney?

Here is a list of authentic instruments for which the consul may intervene :

  • Marriage contracts
  • Consents to adoption (simple) on behalf of a legal adult of French nationality
  • Wills
  • Gifts between spouses
  • Attested affidavits
  • Powers of attorney (to receive or relinquish an inheritance, purchase, sell, borrow, mortgage, etc.)

Consuls draw up the instruments directly in French. They are considered to have been produced in France. However, only French notaries remain authorised to advise you (marriage, property project, etc).

N.B : in some countries (England, USA, Australia, Scandinavian countries, etc…), an instrument may only be drawn up in the local authentic form.

How to draw up an authentic instrument from abroad?

1- Your French notary must send you a template of the instrument by email 
2- You must then transfer this to the person in charge of the notary service at the consulate or embassy of your country of residence 
3- You will then be asked to sign an authentic instrument drawn up according to the template of the instrument that you sent previously. This takes approximately two weeks.

The diplomatic agents drawing up the instruments, unlike notaries, do not have a duty of advice. In the case of a marriage contract implemented according to French law for example, the notary will advise you on the most appropriate matrimonial regime in line with your profile and country of residence. The notary will draw up a draft marriage contract that you will need to send to the consulate or embassy.

What supporting documents are required for producing the authentic instrument?

Apart from the draft instrument with the notary who was previously consulted in France, certain supporting documents must be produced as proof of identity and civil status or even home address. The authentic form requires the presence of a public officer, the personal appearance of clients and their signature on every page of the instrument.

How much will you be asked to pay?

You will be subject to the collection of consular fees. The rate is calculated in line with the type of instrument, the number of pages and the consular rate in force on the day when the instrument is signed.

If the instrument is a patent, this is the case in particular for a power of attorney for purchasing or selling a property asset that is mortgaged or with borrowing, the rate being 35 euros per page in New York in 2016.