I need PACS info

Hi all,
I know there are PACS threads out there but I'm hoping someone can address my questions.
My gf (French) & I (Australian) have been in a relationship for over 3 years but have not been able to be together long-term for the obvious visa reasons. We have been back & forth multiple times over the 3 years. If we're going to be together, basically I have to move over to France & marriage is the last resort.
As I see it, you can only be "PACSed" if you have been living together for at least 1 year consecutively.  How is this possible for us if we're limited to 3 months at a time together because of tourist visa restrictions? Is there a way around this 1 year co-habitation thing for circumstances like ours? Does our 3 years together not have any weight in a PACS application?
Now, lets say by some way we are granted PACS status, do I really have to wait one year before being eligible for work rights? How are you supposed to survive if you can't earn money (all sorts of events can affect the savings you move over with, just in case you're going to say you should have $$ to support yourself for this time)?
Are you eligible for unemployment/assistance benefits then?
I hope someone can address these specific questions, hopefully from experience.

All you need to do is go to the Mairie (which city she live) & they will give u the details. I'm sure Australian govt they allowed PACs for their citizen. But it will take a lot of time & afford trust me. Good luck!

Hey Justin,

I'm an american with a French boyfriend and I just got PACSed. The one year cohabitation requirement actually only applies to the PACS visa (vie privée et familiale). To pacs your girlfriend, you only need to have been on French soil for 40 consecutive days (applies to marriage as well). You also need proof that you live together... she can just call the gas company and have your name put on the bill, or sign an "Attestation d'Hebergement" saying that you live together. Both are easy to do. Really the only thing stopping you from getting pacsed is the mountain of paperwork required.

There's no real pacs "application" where you're accepted or denied based on the merits of your relationship... you just need about 10 different official documents, and when you get them, you turn them in all at the same time to the "Tribunal d'Instance" in your area. The list of documents probably varies depending on the city so you should look up the requirements based on where your gf is located. The Tribunal then gives you an appointment (could be a couple weeks or a couple months, depending on the time of year. try not to do it in the summer) and you come back and sign the paperwork. There's no denial as long as you haven't lied on your paperwork. After that, you're pacsed! woohoo!
The best part is, this whole process is free. Usually. I had some time constraints and the appointment that the Tribunal gave me was too late. So, we completed the process with a notary instead and it cost about 400 euros. If you're a little pressed for time, this may be a good option for you.

Important: The PACS alone doesn't grant you the right to stay/work in France. If you come on a tourist visa and get pacsed, you still have to go home at the end of the three months. That being said, it's better to get Pacsed sooner rather than later because there's always a lot of delays. If you wait until the last minute to do it, it can really fuck you over. So yeah.

Also, you cannot apply for a "carte de sejour" (any visa that grants you the right to live and/or work in France) if you do not already have a valid long-stay visa. This is a French law and cannot be circumvented. This means that in order to apply for the Pacs visa, you already need to be in the country legally for purposes other than tourism. People pay a lot of money to come to France on a tourist visa and apply for the PACS visa only to find out that they aren't even eligible to apply. Don't make that mistake! More on that later.

As far as the visa... there's no way around the fact that you guys haven't been living together for one year. Sorry. When you apply, you have to prove month by month that you guys have been living together (I'm in the process of applying for that visa right now) with phone bills, gas, electricity, paychecks, etc.

So you should kill two birds with one stone and actually come live in France for one year with a long-stay visa. This way, you fulfill the one-year requirement, and you are eligible to apply for the PACS visa because you wont be a tourist. Check out the website of the French consulate nearest you (in Australia) and see what kind of visas they offer. Probably the easiest one to get is a student visa.

If your gf lives in/near a big city, there are probably a bunch of university programs for foreign students to learn French. These are really easy to be accepted into and they grant you the right to a visa. A student visa also allows you to work up to 20 hours a week. So if you do two semesters of that (prefferably spring--> fall, that way you stay during the summer and you can rack up some time towards the 1 year requirement) you should be able to apply for the PACS visa after that.

Regarding the PACS visa: you get a "carte de sejour" valid for one year and no work limitations. You're not a citizen but you can do as the French do. If you want to reapply at the end of the year, you have to show a bunch of documents proving you guys actually lived together. So make sure you save all your bills, etc. And try to get both of your names on as many bills as possible, no matter who's paying them, because it makes the whole thing easier and it looks better to the prefecture. (the people who renew visas)

If you have any more questions, I recommend looking at american guides to PACS and living in France. There will be some small differences in the paperwork needed but otherwise it's the same. Plus it's in English.

Good luck!

Absolutely fantastic response Julie ! I mean wow! Thank you !!! You've answered so many of my questions !

Perhaps, if you don't mind, I can ask for some clarification in my situation (if you happen to know, or have an opinion)?

I have been living in France for 1.5 years on a scientific visa, doing the majority of my PhD research in Marseille. My boyfriend and I met here in Marseille. We've been together over a year. He lived in Marseille for 6 months then got a job in Sophia-Antipolis (about 2 hours away) so obviously we don't live together. But we'd like to get PACSed so that perhaps, after my scientific visa expires next year, I will have the flexibility to stay in France if that's what we decide to do.

We are going to try to live together in Paris next year, perhaps January --- December 2015 but my CDS expires in October 2015 ... what will I do at this point ? Does the fact that I already have a CDS (totally legit) give me a (better) chance to get this CDS mention vie privée et familiale ? If I can't get it until the end of 2015, what will I do in those months without any CDS (or with my expired one?).

What do you think ... in your experience with all of this ?

SOOOO complicated ! :(

ps. I'd love some links to those PACs guides. I have found some ... but none are definitive.

Thanks a million!!!

Thanks for your detailed reply Julie  :)
I didn't get a notification of your post (unless it went into my spam folder) & I've just come across your reply now. As it turns out I had arrived in France 3 days before your reply arrived and we bit the bullet & ended up getting married. I guess we knew we wanted to be together long term so marriage just ended up being the easiest option (it also helped that her mum worked in the local Mairie for many years). But thanks again for your reply, no doubt your info would be very helpful for others asking the same questions.


i just wanted to know, after you've been PACSed, did the tribunal give you back all the documents you've provided. I mean the birth certificate specifically?

thank you.

Hey everyone,

So I'm replying to this thread a little late, but I figured I would answer some more questions in case someone stumbles across this in the future with questions.
Justin- I'm glad everything worked out for you!
Wlcoyle- it's probably a bit late for me to help you now, I hope you figured everything out!

Okay, here goes:

Yes, I did get the documents back, including the birth certificate. However, my PACS was done by a notary, I don't know why it would be different at the Tribunal but you never know. In my general experience, at the prefecture/elsewhere, they always give the originals back. That's why they ask for copies: they compare the copies to the original document you brought to verify that it's legit, then they keep the copies and give you the original. I think the only "document" I've had the prefecture take from me were me old cartes de sejour. When you go in to apply for a renewal, they take the expired card and give you a "recepisse de demande" while you wait for your new one. So make sure you make copies of the expired card for your records before you go in for the new one. (I always make copies and scans of all my official documents just in case. You never know when you might need them).

Short answer- yes, they give everything back but any expired cartes de sejour.

Regarding the CDS vie privee et familiale: as far as I know, there's no way around the requirements. Regardless of the type of visa you had prior (student, scientist, etc.), you will need to have lived with your partner for 1 year before applying for the visa (doesn't matter when you get PACSed during this period). I don't think any long term visas carry more weight than any others, but I don't work at the prefecture so I can't be sure. The types of documents they will require for the visa: bank statements, phone bills, pay slips, tax return... for every month. 12 months to be exact, for both you and your partner. It is a huge amount of paperwork. It also makes it easier if both your and your partner's names are on the same documents. I.E. instead of two separate bank statements for both of you at the same address, just open a bank account together with both names. Same for bills/ other documents required. If you don't trust your partner enough to have bills in both names, you probably shouldn't be getting a civil union with them... just saying.
The requirements/list of documents for the CDS vie privee et familiale (PACS visa) varies by location so make sure to check the website of your local prefecture before beginning the process.
Note: personally, I also make sure to be on the lease of every apartment that my partner and I have shared together. This can be really annoying since French real estate agencies don't like foreign renters (liabilities blah blah) and they often require extra documents. But it has proved really useful to me to have an official legal residence in France, both for bills and for visa business. I realize this wont be possible for everyone but I thought I'd mention it.

I'd also like to point out a few important details based on questions people I know ask me about my visa. The PACS and the PACS visa are 2 different things. This seemed obvious to me but many people seem to assume that once you get PACSed, you can automatically stay in the country. Nope, and far from it. They are 2 very different procedures that take place at different times handled by different parts of the French government. It should go without saying, but you need to be PACSed before applying for the visa... Here is the easiest way I can sum it up.

1. Go to France on some sort of long term visa (student, scientifique, etc.) for at least a year, probably longer unless you move in with your partner on the first day you get there. Tourist visas do not work, long term visas only (to apply for CDS vie privee et familiale)
2. At some point during that time, get PACSed.
3. Apply for the carte de sejour with month-by-month proof of your living together with partner minimum 1 year
4. Renew it every year

There's no real correlation between the date of the PACS and when you apply for the visa. Theoretically, you can get PACSed in France, live in the states for 10 years, come to France on a long stay visa for minimum 1 year living with your partner, and then get the visa. I repeat, the 1 year living requirement only applies to the visa, not the PACS itself.  For all marriages and PACSs, I believe you have to have been on French territory for minimum 40 days before the ceremony (assuming you're having it officiated by the French and not an official from your home country).

Also, regarding the renewal of the CDS vie privee et familiale: you need the month-by-month proof of living together with partner EVERY TIME. Every year. When I first got my visa, they gave me a list of the requirements for the following year's renewal that had far fewer documents. When the next year rolled around, they had changed the procedure and they actually required all the same documents as the first application. (That's why you gotta keep all your important documents folks! AKA every piece of paper that ever comes into your lives.) Luckily I had what they needed and I was able to renew my visa. If I was missing any of the documents I would have been totally fucked and would have had to return to the states. Be prepared for anything...

Lastly, you and your partner both need to live together in FRANCE. Even if you are living somewhere in the EU, it doesn't count. You need to be able to prove residence somewhere in France or French territories for the entire year. (Excluding vacations obviously... I traveled for a few months during the year which was reflected in my passport, but they only care about your permanent shared residence.) As long as there are still bills with your names on it sharing the same address you'll be fine.

Last obvious tip: ADDRESSES NEED TO BE THE SAME. For both people. For every month. This can be annoying to organize if you move at some point during the year. If you do, make sure you update all your addresses at the same time for every bill so that it all adds up. Don't bring in documents for one month showing 2 different addresses. I did move in the last year so I had a mix of addresses for certain bills. I don't know if it works this way everywhere, but in Lyon, I was able to bring different bills for certain months. Example- Jan through March, bank statements for both partners, April-June: pay slips for both partners, etc. As long as you have at least two (2) types of documents for each month for both partners, you should be fine.

It's worth mentioning also that I am a young, white, American woman. Many people have told me that it must be "really easy" for me to get a visa because of my origins. I personally don't think that's true as I have had to return to the prefecture many times for missing papers, and I never got the impression of receiving "special treatment" based on my country of birth. However, I can't say it's impossible that someone coming from a middle eastern country might have more trouble applying for a visa than I did. I wouldn't really know, I just wanted to say that I never knowingly received any preferential treatment at the prefecture. If I successfully applied for and renewed my visa, it's because I worked my ass off doing research and being organized!

Okay that's all for now! Good luck to everybody and let me know if you have any more questions! Hope you're able to decipher my rambling explanations...


My partner and i actually went to make enquiry at the marie concerning pacs, we were made to understand that it is not necessary for both of us to having been living in france for 1 year. 1 partner is enough

Wow! Thank u Julie for your explanations, i really learn't a lot! However, i have a question, if after having PACSed with partner, u are not allowed to stay after maybe toursist visa expires and u cannot work, how can they demand for joint account, joint bills, pay slip etc when u are not working to be able to apply for PACS visa?

jrhende2 wrote:

The one year cohabitation requirement actually only applies to the PACS visa (vie privée et familiale). To pacs your girlfriend, you only need to have been on French soil for 40 consecutive days (applies to marriage as well).

You are correct. The 1 year residency requirement only applies to the VPF CDS.

As for your question, that's kind of the problem. You cannot legally stay in the country after your tourist visa expires and I don't recommend it. As I stated above : You cannot apply for a "carte de sejour" (any visa that grants you the right to live and/or work in France) if you do not already have a valid long-stay visa. This is a French law and cannot be circumvented. This means that in order to apply for the Pacs visa, you already need to be in the country legally for purposes other than tourism.

To get PACSed:
No long-term visa needed
No 1 year residency requirement (though cohabitation is necessary)

To get the PACS visa (VPF CDS):
Some form of long-term visa needed. No exceptions
Minimum 1 year cohabitation with partner. No exceptions

Ok, now i understand. Thanks a lot, but 1 last question, can we apply for PACS visa from france consular in other countries or it must be only in france?
Thanks for your time

Of course. Let me know if you have any other questions.

I don't know specifically if you can get a PACS visa from outside of France, but I am pretty sure the answer is no. You would have to check the website for the French consulate in your current country of residence. I know that the French consulate in my neck of the woods in the US does not recognize PACSs and only grant CDS for marriages. This may be because a PACS is only recognized in France and is not legally recognized in other countries, European or otherwise, unlike a marriage.
I would check the consulate website for your area for more info.


Thanks so much

Quick question, Im in denial of this frustrating situation! My 3 month visa is almost finished in a couple of weeks.  My boyfriend and i have been together for a year now and are going to Pacs .  Do I need to fly back to the closest French Embassy in the States where I'm from to get a long stay Visa before we Pacs ?  Can we Pacs and then I fly back for the Visa ?  I'm so stressed and frustrated! I get different answers or not clear answers ..... please help! What would you do?
Thanks, Lara

Hi Lara,

I'll say it again: a PACS is not the same thing as the PACS visa (carte de séjour vie privée et familiale, hereby called CDS VPF).
You don't need a long stay visa to get pacsed. No need to fly back to the US.
Getting pacsed does not automatically grant you the right to residence in France.

A PACS is just a civil union and to have a CDS VPF you need to first have a valid long-stay visa.

You didn't mention what type of visa you have, is it a tourist visa? If so, you are not elligible for a CDS VPF. Sorry! Feel free to get pacsed if you want to but it will have no immediate effect on your ability to legally stay in France.

If you're looking for a long term solution to stay in France you'll need, for starters, a long-stay visa. Good luck!

To anyone else reading: here is a metaphor to better understand the difference between a PACS and a CDS VPF (that i also referred to as a PACS visa which obviously confused some people!).

The PACS is an egg. The CDS VPF is an omelette. You can't make an omelette without your eggs but eggs alone don't make an omelette (you still need other ingredients, plus you have to cook it, etc. i.e. other requirements, paperwork, administrative bullshit, time and money.)

P.S. Lara, your dog is really cute.

Sorry for the stupid questions!  But getting pacsed is the start and people get through it everyday!  If I fly to San Francisco( I'm from Oregon) to meet the proper embassy  for my long stay visa then I'm here a year and pacsed!  Then I can get my long stay crap started?  Yes?

Thank you , my dog is the best I miss her so much! She's with my son in the Ststes.