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

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 “Family booklet” or “Family record booklet.

What Is A Livret De Famille?

cover of a French livret de famille and interior pages

A “livret de famille” (family record booklet) is an important official document issued in France, and in several European and Asian countries. It shows a family’s relationships and tracks the civil status records within a nuclear family, i.e; couple’s marriage, the birth of children, adoption, death of a spouse or child, divorce, and name changes. 

In a way, it’s like a family’s identity card. 

The French family record book came about in France in 1877 after the entire Parisian civil registry records were destroyed in a fire in Paris in May 1871. The rest of France soon followed suit. 

Not all countries recognize the “livret de famille,” but some have something very similar such as:

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

What Is Included In A Livret De Famille?

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

The French family record booklet contains all of your family’s official documents.

  • Marriage certificate (l’acte de marriage)
  • Deaths
  • Birth certificates ‘l’acte de naissance)
  • Certificate of divorce if it exists.

Once you have a “livret de famille,” you have a legal obligation to keep it updated with any new events after it’s issued (marriage, birth, adoption, divorce, death, etc.). If the “livret de famille” is damaged or lost, you can go to your local Mairie (town hall in France) and request a duplicate as a replacement.

What Are The Benefits Of Having A Livret De Famille?

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

The family records booklet proves the existence of family ties between parents and children in a family.

Think of it as a kind of proof of you’re marital status, proof that you are who you say you are and your children are your children.

What is a livret de famille used for?

A “livret de famille” proves your family’s relationship and composition for certain French administration purposes.

Some possible 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 your “livret de famille.”
  • To obtain a copy of a family member’s birth certificate. 
  • A notary might ask for a “livret de famille” to draw up a will or testament. Etc.

It’s also very helpful in proving descent and entitlement to inheritance and social services and provides historians with information about family members.

How do I get a livret de Famille in France?

You cannot ask for a livret de famille. It’s only given to a couple when they get married in France or after the birth of a child in France. 

In other words, if you’re not French, and are not born in France, the only way to obtain a French “livret de famille” would be to get married in France or have a child in France. 

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

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

Don’t panic.

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. 

Each time you’re asked to provide a livret de famille, you’ll need to give them 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 to French. Something you’ll have to do anyways if you need to renew your visa in France. 

One last tip.

Make sure to keep these documents handy, especially if you have school-aged children. You will need them to register them in schools in France. Either have them printed out in advance and save them on your computer in a folder labelled “livret de famille.” This is useful for finding them quickly to print or send to someone 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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