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Can a proxy sign acte de vente for French property purchase for me?

If you are buying a house in France, but cannot be there in person to sign, we look at what options are available

After the pandemic, the issue of signing for a property when you can not be in France has become more common Pic: Portrait Image Asia / Shutterstock

Reader question:  I am in the process of buying a property in France and plan to move there. However, I am applying for my visa at the same time. 

If I cannot get over to France to sign the acte de vente myself, could someone do it as a proxy? 

If not, is it possible to sign at a distance from the UK? 

This is a popular request, and increasingly so in the aftermath of the pandemic. 

While it is preferable to attend a completion, it is not always imperative. 

The acte de vente (final sale deed) is an acte authentique, requiring all parties to be present at its signing. 

By contrast, the compromis de vente (initial sale contract) does not need to be completed before a notaire and the same requirements may not apply. 

From a legal standpoint, signing the acte de vente should not therefore be delegated to a proxy. 

That said, in practice, notaires will agree to prepare a power of attorney in respect of an acte de vente

Where the notaire agrees to this, they will most likely appoint a member of their staff, such as a clerk, to sign on your behalf. 

However, some notaires will prefer you to appoint someone other than a member of their office. 

You might in this case choose a friend or member of family local to the notaire’s office. 

The notaire will require you to sign the power of attorney in the presence of a notary public and might request that the document be ‘legalised’ by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office. 

This process involves the affixing of an official seal, known as an apostille, to confirm the document’s authenticity when presented in another country. 

As an alternative, it might be more practical to inquire whether the notaire is able to use a video conference platform. 

During this online meeting they will ask you to sign the power of attorney and witness your signature. 

You should be prepared to verify your identity by presenting your passport.

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