Signing a power of attorney for the signing of an authentic act abroad is possible under certain conditions.

Since the abolition of the notarial function in French consulates and embassies abroad a year ago, following the publication of the decrees of November 8th and December 18th, 2017, many French nationals living abroad feel obliged to return to France urgently to sign authentic acts. Those who did not have this possibility found themselves at an impasse. It is however possible to get around this difficulty.

  • Definition of authentic acts : examples

The definition of an authentic act is given by article 1369 of the civil code. It is an act “(…) which was received, with the required formalities, by a public officer having competence and quality to draw up a formal document. (…) ”

This act must be drafted by a Public officer such as the Notary in France. We more commonly speak of a notarial act in France: marriage contracts, deed of donation, deed of sale, notoriety deed in an estate. This list is not exhaustive.

  • Situation before January 1st, 2019

Before January 1st, 2019, consular and embassy services around the world had notarial functions, allowing them to receive these authentic documents. These services had already been abolished on January 1st, 2005 within the European Union and the European economic area as well as in Andorra, Switzerland, Monaco and the Vatican, apparently with no real negative impact. Unfortunately the removal of these functions in the rest of the world is more problematic due to distance.

  • Situation after January 1st, 2019

Since January 1st, 2019, the new wave of abolition has required the implementation of a solution to allow French people who have to sign an authentic act and do not have the possibility of being able to go to France to do so.

The difficulty lies in the fact that French Notaries cannot practice outside French borders. However, French law requires that authentic acts such as marriage contracts, declarations of law applicable to marriage, powers of attorney for deeds of sale, be received by a French notary who can explain the content of the act and ensure that the client understands and is fully aware of his commitment. There is rarely the equivalent of a French notary abroad. In addition, the ministerial officer in the host country is required to speak French and master French law, in order to be able to fulfill the conditions set out above.

  • Solution implemented

For private deeds, such as the signing of a former power of attorney to sell or acquire, only a signature certification is required. You just have to go to the consulate to have your signature certified. Only your identity will be checked.

For authentic acts, it is necessary to sign a power of attorney giving your notary in France the power to sign the act on your behalf. The proxy must therefore be received by a professional under French law, who can explain the content of the deed to you in the presence of a local notary. The document signed by all will then have to be stamped with the apostille, which will give it probative force.

This of course has a cost sometimes higher than the purchase of a return flight by plane to France, but the experience of recent months has shown, this solution is more and more popular with French people abroad.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Sarah-Jane Tasteyre



Beirut office


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