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Monday, March 28, 2011


Last year, my girlfriend (I guess in the spirit of this article, my domestic partner) and I were PACSed. PACS is a term that is used with increasing frequency here in France, but probably means little or nothing to someone from outside the country.

PACS stands for Pacte Civil de Solidarité; essentially, a domestic partnership. It was originally created in France to give rights and benefits to homosexual couples, and then eventually heterosexual couples started doing it as well. I have even heard of roommates getting PACSed so that they can acquire a visa (I'll explain how in a second).

To be PACSed, a couple has to prove that they are in good standing, that they live together (providing an electric bill or a joint bank account statement, for example), and they intend to stay that way. Though this did not happen to us, some of the forms we read said we need to find proof that we had been together for two years, just to show that we were serious. PACS was perfect for us, as it gives me almost all of the benefits of being a French citizen, without having a hasty marriage. Most importantly, it allows me to obtain a visa, which I am allowed to renew each year as long as we stay together.

As I was saying, I have heard of roommates doing this before. Let's say a French guy and another foreigner, guy or girl, live together. They like hanging out, but they aren't dating, nor do they plan on it. To keep the foreigner in the country, the roommates can decide to get PACSed, basically proving that they are together, which will allow the foreigner to renew or obtain a visa. As they don't ask couples to prove that they love each other physically, this can be relatively painless.

Our "ceremony" was pretty uneventful. We traveled out to a sub prefecture, dressed in t-shirts and shorts as it was warm that day. At the desk, we were asked to present our ID's, and to verify that all the information on our papers were correct. After signing the paperwork, they handed us a copy of the papers we had signed, and that was it. As the ceremony itself was so administrative and unremarkable, it is easy to forget sometimes that we are legally bound to each other. Apparently they even put my name on Julie's birth certificate (though we have yet to see this).

PACS seems to be viewed as a preliminary step towards marriage these days. We've known a couple of friends that were PACSed, engaged, and then married, in that order. We had a few friends ask us when we were going to have our party to celebrate our union, which seemed funny to us because we didn't realize it was that big of a deal. In one of my many meetings with the French State regarding the creation of my company, as they were going over my personal information, they asked "OK, so you are married?" I laughed and told them no, my girlfriend and I are PACSed. To my surprise, she continued to fill out on my forms that I was married and said "Yeah, well, it's pretty much the same thing."

If you happen to be dating someone that is French and want to stay in France, or move to France, getting PACSed is a relatively simple way to do so. However, like pretty much everything in France, it requires an a lot of paperwork, and from what I have heard from other friends in different prefectures, not every prefecture has the same requirements for being PACSed. While the process was fairly easy for us, I have had friends dealing with mind boggling stupidity courtesy of their prefecture, putting them in real life catch-22's where obtaining their domestic partnership status was technically impossible, no matter which route they took per suggestion from the official.

Unfortunately, PACS is not recognized outside of France, so when Julie and I happen to leave the country, we are just boyfriend and girlfriend, and don't receive the same benefits as we enjoy here. At least in France, we are pacsou and pacsette.

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  1. So how does a girl who wants to get out of Texas get a working permit/EU working papers? You're living the life I want. Love the blog. It keeps me sane as I sit through one more day of lectures.

  2. There are a couple of ways you can make this work. Probably the easiest would be signing up as a student over here at La Sorbonne, or another school which teaches French classes. If you have a little money, you can sign up for one of these, and they give you a visa. With this visa, you can work, so you can pay off the apartment, school, etc.

    Being from Texas, you could give Fat Tire Bike Tours a shot. They are a company run by a guy who went to Texas A & M, and they seem to hire quite a few people from the state. They have positions as guides as well as in their office. If you show you have a genuine interest in France and can speak a little French, you never know.

    As you are still in University it appears, you could go to your school's career center and see if there are any companies based in Texas that have offices abroad, or just see if you can find any positions that are solely related to Europe.

    Also, I would recommend, if you haven't done so already, get to work on the language of the country you like (I hope French!). Listen to podcasts, online radio, fine French people and talk to them, etc. The more you know, the better prepared you will be when the chance to move comes.

    Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions. Glad you like the blog as well!


  3. Thanks for the advice. Does Big fat Tire help you get the necessary paper work if they are interested in hiring you? I am so going to work overseas. I've been planning my escape for years.

  4. If you are American and they hire you, then yes they do. Give it a shot!

  5. Hey John-Paul,

    thanks for the info.

    I'm actually from Florissant, MO and I stumbled accros your blog while searching for information about domestic partnerships. My girlfriend is French and we are currently iving in Bordeaux. We are thinking about getting PACSed, but are also looking for ways for her to be able to stay in the states. I'm finding it difficult to find information about domestic partnerships with a foreigner, do you happen to know anything about it? Any info would be of much help.


  6. Hey James,

    Good to hear from a fellow St. Louisan! The last couple weeks have been crazy as seemingly everyone I have talked to or met here in Paris happens to be from St. Louis. Prior to that, I ran into someone from St. Louis maybe every 3 or 4 months.

    The simplest way for your girlfriend to live with you in the U.S. would be for the two of you to get married. Unless before going to the U.S. she found a job or signed up at a university that provided a visa, there's really no other way. While PACS is great here because it gives you all the benefits that a married couple would receive here in France, unfortunately it isn't recognized anywhere else.

    If you guys do happen to get married in the U.S., I would definitely have your girlfriend apply for a visa for this purpose. Let's say you didn't and got married in the U.S., she would not be allowed to leave the U.S. for any reason until her visa is processed, which would be about two years.

    I know this might seem like a big step, but if you guys are serious about staying together and would be getting married to each other in the future anyway, you might as well go to the mairie in Bordeaux and have it done. It would be quick, and the waiting time for her visa to go to the US would only be a couple of months. Then you can figure out the rest such as having a reception in St. Louis and in France and all that. If you guys are newly dating, perhaps it would just be easier for the two of you to be PACSed and then you can stay here and work, which would take a little pressure off the big decision of getting married.

    Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions and thanks for writing.


  7. Hi JP. Thanks for sharing the info. I am a hispanic/american girl that moved to Paris a year ago to go to a culinary school. After finishing school and working for 6 months in a kitchen I may have to go back because the student visa is getting to its end. The PACS is a solution in my current situation, but do you know if the visa I will get through that will allow me to work. Do you have that info? BTW, are you hiring anyone? :-)

  8. HI there,

    With a PACS visa, you pretty much get the same treatment as being a citizen here, minus the passport. So if you are in a serious relationship with someone, it is a great solution. It does take a while to file everything to be PACS'd, and then file for your long term visa, so if your visa is about to run out, I would get started on that now, as the whole process will take a few months.

    I wish I could be hiring at this point, but for the moment I'm able to handle it on my own. Maybe in a year or so it will be busy enough to necessitate a second person, so perhaps contact me then!

    Thanks for reading and good luck with staying in France!


  9. This is awesome news.. I'm a male american in a serious long distance relationship with a French. I am currently learning french in the states and saving to move there. I want to get PACSd but I dont know where to begin :(

  10. Hello Cloud8,

    Thanks for reading my blog! I believe that you cannot get PACSed unless you are have already been living with your partner in France for at least one year. Once you move here, you can start the application process.

    Take a look at this website, it should help you get an idea of what you need to do to meet the requirements for getting PACSed.

    Good luck and thanks for writing!


  11. hi john-paul,

    i was wondering if getting PACSed allows you the gov't paid French Language classes, the same as when you get married. i'm considering getting pacsed to my French boyfriend (we are already living in France) and wanted the benefit of the classes like my married foreign friends have!


  12. Hi Karen,

    That's a good question, and to be honest, I'm not sure of the answer. It would be worth asking at the prefecture when you go through the process. I never received any classes, but then again, I never even thought of it as a possibility. However, I would ask because if you can get some free French lessons (other than from your boyfriend!), then take advantage of it!

    Thanks for writing and good luck!


  13. Hi,
    Same issue here...American guy who fell for a Parisian girl about 2 years ago and have mostly been a long-distance relationship since with the exemption of about 6 months of face-time traveling together. So, the PACS could be a viable option, except that whole living together for a year is this possible if you're not already in the country? I thought that maybe I could just try to study french for a year and stay as a student...To get a 12 month (long-stay) student visa, you apparently need to prove you have $850 for every month you plan to study there, which is $10,200. Hmmm, well I just graduated from college 4 months ago with student debt and I don't even have 1,200 saved up! Ever heard of anyone getting around this problem?

    And, I'm going to take this opportunity to vent my frustration...what the hell is going on with the world? Since when did it become taboo to want to marry outside your own country? I understand the need to combat excessive population influx to any given nation but how is it ok that the powers that be hold dominion over our international love-lives? The girl I love and her family happen to live in Paris. We happen to have been born in different parts of the world. We have no allegiance to nations. Our loyalties are only to each other and those we love. Yet, the imposition of LAW restricts that neither of us consciously agreed to comply with. We were born and unwillingly indoctrinated into it.

    So anyway, we attempted to get her a tourist visa to the states 3 times while I finished school, but even though she had over 6000 euros and proof of intent to return to her family in paris after it was all said and done, she was denied a 6 month visa. then the standard 3 month visa twice. Time and money (fees and purchase of 2-way flight) down the crapper. They told her she fit the profile of a potential illegal immigrant and, anyway, she shouldn't have applied the subsequent two times because she was already 'flagged' as having been denied the first time. Would have been lovely to know that before spending the money to apply again...thank you, embassy authoritarians. Thank you, Customs and Border Patrol for presenting such a wealth of relevant situation-specific information on your websites. What a joke.

    If a citizen wants to sponsor a foreigner to come live with them and they take the time to arrange a residence, prove financial self-reliance, and write a letter of sponsorship/letter begging the bureaucrat scum to have a heart and let their guest in, why deny those two individuals the chance to be together? I think I know why: because we are mere proles and they do with and say whatever they please to the little guys. Bureaucracy is just another piece of the thin veil that poorly hides the true intent to DOMINATE AND CONTROL. It is just another tool used to impede REAL PROGRESS and REAL UNITY.

    The immigrant "problem" has been hyperbolied to death in my country (and in France as well) and ALL suffer for it, especially those with international ties. That kind of rhetoric drives prejudice and militant pride. Besides, didn't immigrants build the US? How soon we forget. The United States of Hypocrisy. The United States of Xenophobia. U.S.Anus.

    Ok I'm done ranting, as this is no longer to do with trying to get to my girl in Paris.

  14. I cannot tell you how excited I was to read this because I'm feeling totally stressed out about all of this. I met my partner this summer in Lyon and we've decided to PACS. I have taught elementary school for 10 years and high school for 2 years. I am finding it close to impossible to obtain any kind of work in Lyon. Can you maybe offer me any type of advice on maybe other routes too look at. I guess with the PACS, I still won't receive a work permit so I'm really worried how I will make any money over there, but I know I can't stay in Kansas City because my heart is 110% in Lyon. I also am fluent in French so that helps. I sincerely appreciate any advice you can offer. I have a friend who lives there and she keeps saying that I will find work but it seems to get harder and harder. Thanks so much again.

    Erich in KC

  15. Hi Erich,

    Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. The thing with with PACS is that you have to prove that you have already resided with your partner for at least a year, if not more, so you might have to find some work in the area first before you can get PACS'd.

    It just crossed my mind that St. Louis (my hometown) is a sister city with Lyon and they organize certain events and exchanges, perhaps you could contact them to see if you could be of any assistance, or see if they know anyone that can help you out in Lyon?

    Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for writing!


  16. Hi John,

    im living a smiilar situation as you have described. im currently living in Aix en Provence studying french and living with my boyfriend. We originally bought a private insurance plan so that i can get my student visa for France. The thing is that the insurance is about to run out and we are running into some issues with obtaining it through the french social security program. And my school doesnt work with the student insurance program. We thought that if we got a certificate of 'concubinage' it will help us fix the situation but apparently like PACS we need to live together for over a year in order for me to be added to his health insurance.

    I was wondering if you know of a solution in which we don't have to pay or find the least expensive insurance.

    What did you have while you were here and not PACS'd yet? We really need some advice!! please help us!

    also do you know of any websites where I can find employment for foreigners? I live in Aix en Provence.

  17. Hello Rosie,

    Thanks for reaching out! In your situation, it seems you have two options. One, find a job where you can get a visa to live here. Jobs like those are increasing hard to come by. Your best bet is in tourism, so try looking for some tour operators or guides that might be hiring in the area. Even then, a lot of companies are hiring natives who speak good English as they don't have to pay for the visa.

    Your second option is to get married. You could do a quick civil ceremony and then take care of doing a more formal marriage down the road if you wish. That might seem like a big step so I'd consider it carefully.

    I used to work for a company that would provide visas for their employees to work over here. As a result of the worldwide slump in the economy, the French government does not allow them to hire as many people from abroad as in the past. I got PACS after living here for 2 and a half years.

    I guess one other solution is see if you can sign up for another 6 months of classes at your school. With this you could perhaps get another short term visa and then be able to work 25 hours a week to help pay the bills. By then perhaps you will be able to get PACS'd.

    Thanks again for writing and good luck!


  18. Hi John,
    I am a Turkish citizen and living in Turkey and have a French girlfriend.You know my country isnt in EU so in our situation is it possible for me to apply for PACS and move to France?
    Thanks a lot


  19. Hello John,
    i am from Malaysia and living in uk where i meet my french boyfriend. We planning to marry in paris. The question for me is malaysian can stay 3month maximum in paris without a visa. So, both of us can marry in paris, however, am i, malaysian, can continue to stay after 3month or not? What type of visa i am qualified to applied?

  20. Hi John,

    Is me again, just posting continue... I mean can i apply a visa in paris or i need to back to malaysia to apply? If i am qualify to apply visa in paris, which type of visa? Please help me...

  21. Hello Deniz and Anonymous,

    Thank you for your messages! First anonymous, as long as you are married in France, then you can stay in France, though you will need to apply for a long stay visa thereafter. This is something that the city hall where you are married should be able to address.

    Deniz, you have to have lived in France with your partner for at least 2 years (it might be longer now) before you can apply to be PACS. The easiest thing would be to get married, though obviously that should be carefully considered!

    Thanks for your questions!


  22. Hi John,
    I am asian in origin.I am not a french. I am a Legionnaire(of LEGION ETRANGERE). I have been serving france since last two years as a millitaire. And recently i came to know about pacsed. I was wondering if i could get help from pacsed to bring my girlfriend here. Is it possible? if not is there any other way by which i can bring her here? Your advice would be helpful. Thank you.

  23. Hello Cerpah,

    Thank you for your email! I am not sure if you would be able to bring your girlfriend into France as neither of you are French. However, there might be an exception as you are serving with Foreign Legion. I would inquire at your city hall, or at your country's embassy or consulate for more information. Thank you for reading and good luck!

  24. Thank you for this info! I have struggled to find any information in English. Is there a website that keeps updated rules and guidelines that you know of?

  25. Really hope you can offer some advice for me. I am 62, retired, living here in Normandie with my girlfriend who I met about 5yrs ago. I decided to up sticks and move here 18 months ago. My problem is health care! My partner is also retired and has health insurance and private pension. If we were to Pacsed, would her health insurance cover me and also, would she lose her pension rights?

  26. Hello...
    I hope you can give me information about pacs . we wanted to have pacs here in philippines is possible to make here? what are the requirements needed to complete this.

  27. Hello...
    I hope you can give me information about pacs . we wanted to have pacs here in philippines is possible to make here? what are the requirements needed to complete this. If we live together but not in france in philippines is possible to get pacs?

  28. Hello. What I don't understand is how can you have lived in France together with your partner for a year or more if you don't have a visa to live and work there?? Totally catch 22? I want to get PACS'd with my French bf so we can actually live in France and I can work there. But if I have to live with him in France first, how is that even possible? I can only get 3 months on my tourist visa.

  29. Hi everyone ;
    I just have a question.
    Is pasced or CD , like schengen visa?
    Or is it only staying permit in france ?
    I mean can you travel to Germany or stay there ?

  30. Hello,
    We are a same sex couple and have been together for just over 2 years living in Australia. My partner is French and wants to return to France in the next few months. I will of course go with him & we will proceed with the necessary paperwork for a Civil Union once we arrive.
    If I arrive with no Visa (which allows me up to 90 days stay in France/Schengen States) and we proceed with a Civil Union can we apply for me to stay in France while I'm in France?

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