Marriage, a union and mutual commitment between two people, is considered as being international in the three following scenarios: the union of two French nationals living abroad, of two foreign nationals living in France, or two spouses of different nationalities.
Though these situations are increasingly frequent, special attention however needs to be paid to the requirements for international marriages to be recognised in order to ensure the latter's full effectiveness and avoid any subsequent difficulties.
Generally speaking, to be recognised, a marriage must comply with the local rules applicable in the location where the marriage was celebrated, as regards the formal requirements (ex: civil or religious marriage, etc.) and the personal rules applicable to the spouses (depending on their nationality), as regards substantive requirements (ex: age of majority). The situation of French nationals abroad and foreign nationals in France must thus be distinguished.
* conditions for the recognition of marriages between French nationals abroad:
Many formalities must imperatively be observed should French nationals marry abroad. Before marrying, the future spouses will need to request the French consulate of the country in which the marriage is to be celebrated to establish a "certificate of no impediment". Next, the spouses will need to "publish the banns". Finally, the marriage will imperatively need to be recorded in the French civil status registers. To do so, the spouses will need to contact the French Consulate or Embassy.
*conditions for the recognition of marriages between foreign nationals in France:
In this case, the local rules – i.e. the French rules – will apply. The marriage will thus be celebrated before a French Civil Registrar.
If the two spouses share the same foreign nationality, their marriage may also sometimes be celebrated in front of their country's consular or diplomatic authorities.
However, the substantive requirements under the law of each of the spouses' countries will need to be observed (ex: as regards the age of majority) and the spouses will need to make sure that their national laws do not impose a religious celebration as a condition for validity. If the foreign law imposes the latter requirement, it would then be in the spouses' best interest to carry out a religious marriage after the civil marriage in order to ensure the effectiveness of their union in their country of origin.