What is a French Livret de famille? What to do if you need one in France?

cover of a French livret de famille and interior pages

You’re searching for information about the French “livret de famille”, either because you don’t know what it is or you were asked for one and want to know how to put one together. I’ve been where you are now. Here’s everything you need to know about this important French document.

Livret de famille” in English is called a “Family booklet” or a “Family record booklet” aka “Family history book.” 

What Is A Livret De Famille?

cover of a French livret de famille and interior pages

A “livret de famille” is a type of  family identity and records booklet issued in France and several European and Asian countries.

This important official document records and tracks all the civil status and vital records of a nuclear family and married couple in one convenient booklet and proves a family’s relationships with one another.

The French family record book came about in France after the entire Parisian civil registry records were destroyed in a fire in Paris in May 1871. 

What vital records are recorded In A “Livret De Famille” in France?

paper cut out people showing marriage, death, divorce and birth in a family

The French family record booklet records the following civil status  and vital records for you, and your children. 

  • Marriage certificate (l’acte de marriage)
  • Birth certificates (acte de naissance)
  • Adoptions
  • Death (of a spouse, or child)
  • Certificate of divorce if it exists.
  • Name changes

After the first event, subsequent events and modifications are usually recorded as “mentions marginales”, positioned on the side, in the margins of the French family booklet

Once you are issued a “livret de famille,” you have a legal obligation to keep it updated with any new events (marriage, birth, adoption, divorce, death, name change, etc.).

Replacing lost or damaged booklets.

Like a driver’s license and passport, each family can only have one livret de famille.

If you lose your booklet, or its damaged, you can go to your local Mairie (town hall) and request a duplicate as a replacement. 

What is a “livret de famille” used for?

Man rowing in a box surrounded by a sea of paperwork to show bureaucracy

A “livret de famille” is used mainly for French administration purposes.

Instead of showing up with multiple vital records for each family member, the livret de famille acts as a family records booklet and proves your family’s relationship and composition 

Here are some example situations where you might be asked for your “livret de famille” in France:

  • For school registration: when you enrol children in school in France, the admissions office will always ask you for one.”
  • To obtain a copy of a family member’s birth certificate. 
  • A notary might ask for it to draw up a will or testament. Etc.
  • It helps prove descent and entitlement to inheritance and social services. 
  • It provides historians with information about family members.

Do other countries recognize the French “livret de famille”?

There are several other countries that have something similar to France’s family booklet:

  • Germany (Familienbuch)
  • Spain, China (Hukou)
  • Japan (Koseki)
  • North and South Korea (Hoju).

Although the French “livret de famille” is an official French document, it’s only recognized in France and cannot be used in other countries like government-issued passports.

It also cannot be used in countries that have their own version of a family records booklet. 

So if you are German, for instance, you cannot use your German family record booklet in France and vice versa.

How do I get a French livret de Famille?

You can’t ask for a “livret de famille” out of the blue just because you need one. 

It’s first issuance is triggered by one of two events:

  1. Marriage
  2. Or birth. 

French couples who get married in France (or abroad) will automatically receive a “livret de famille” after the ceremony. If married abroad, there are extra goods to jump through.

Two French citizens who are not married will receive their first “livret de famile” after the birth of their first child together.

Technically, you can have multiple “livret de famille” if you have a child with different people.

I’m not French, how do I get a livret de famille in France?

Foreigners married in France will automatically receive a livret de famille after the ceremony. (Contact your local Mairie for details and documents needed)

A French citizen and a foreigner can get a French family booklet after they are married (in France or abroad).

A French citizen and a foreigner who are not married CAN receive one after the birth of their first child.

If your child is born in France but neither parent is a French citizen, you will NOT be issued a livret de famille. 

In other words, if you’re not a French citizen, the only way to obtain a French “livret de famille” would be to get married in France or have a child with someone who is already a French citizen.

What do I do if don’t have a “livret de famille,” but I am being asked for one. ?

woman at desk puzzled by paperwork for the livret de famille in France

Don’t panic.

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re not a French citizen, and you’re not married to a French citizen. 

Having a “livret de famille” does make life easier in France; however, if you don’t have one, you can easily gather the equivalent documents.

You’ll need to gather the following documents (if applicable.)

  • Your marriage certificate
  • Your birth certificate (of you and your spouse)
  • Children’s birth certificates
  • If divorced, you may need to provide a divorce certificate.
  • Copies of your identity: Usually your passport.

You may need to get your documents translated into French. Something you’ll have to do anyways if you need to renew your visa in France. 

One last tip

Make sure to keep the above documents handy, especially if you have school-aged children.

Each time you register your child in school in France, you’ll most likely be asked for your family’s French “livret de famille”.

I suggest keeping a set printed out, filed away and ready to go.

Or do as I do and save them on your computer in a folder labelled “livret de famille.” I can then quickly find and print the documents or send them via email.  

Photo of Annie André: www.AnnieAndre.com

Annie André

About the author 

I’m A Bilingual North American With Thai And French Canadian Roots Who's Been Living In The South Of France For Over 10 Years. I Love Writing Weird, Wonderful, Interesting, Forgotten, And Fascinating Articles For Intellectually Curious People Amazed By France, French Culture, And World Travel.

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