What is a livret de famille and what to do if you need one in France

Here’s everything you need to know about the “Livret de famille,” an important French document used for administrative purposes, and what to do if you don’t have one.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
cover of a French livret de famille and interior pages
cover of a French livret de famille and interior pages

You landed here either because you’re searching for information about France’s “livret de famille,” 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.

What Is A Livret De Famille?

cover of a French livret de famille and interior pages

A “livret de famille,” French for “Family record booklet,” serves as 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 a married couple.

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 family booklet 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 family record book or it’s 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

The main purpose of a family record book in France is 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 with one another 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”?

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. 

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).

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

How do I get a French livret de Famille?

You cannot ask for a family book out of the blue just because you need one. 

Its first issuance is triggered by one of two events:

  1. Marriage
  2. Birth

French couples who get married in France (or abroad) will automatically receive a “livret de famille” after the ceremony. If a couple is married abroad, there are extra hoops 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?

If you’re not a French citizen, the only way to obtain a French family book would be to get married in France or have a child with someone who is already a French citizen.

  • 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. 

What do I do if I 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 following equivalent 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 anyway if you need to renew your visa in France. 

One last tip about the French livret de famille

If you don’t have a French livret de famille issued by the French government, 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 the equivalent documents on your computer in a folder labelled “livret de famille.” That way, you can quickly find and print the documents and print them out or send them via email.  

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

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