Explained: Why you might need a certificat d’urbanisme in France

How to get the document and what information it reveals about plots of land and planning issues

Toy houses placed on a street plan showing plots of land
A certificat d’urbanisme (CU) is solely for information purposes - it does not give permission to build on the land

A certificat d’urbanisme (CU) is delivered by the mairie in France. 

It details the rules that attach to plots of land under the commune’s local planning rules, the taxes on the land, and if there are any servitudes, such as footpaths or historic monument rules, that apply to it. 

The document is solely for information purposes, and not permission to build on the land.

When might I want one?

There are two types of certificate: CU d’information (type A) and CU opérationnel (type B).

A certificate of type A is useful if you do not yet have a firm project in mind. For example, if you see a plot for sale and wonder if you would be able to build on it. 

The certificate can be requested by the owner or anyone else. Owners are not informed of type A requests by others.

Once you have firm plans for the land, a type B certificate will give a clearer indication of how viable it is, using the approximate locations of future buildings, their use, and the approximate state of public infrastructure, existing and planned.

It is important to remember that it is not a certificate of planning permission.

Read more: Points to know when buying land in France to build a house on

Other information contained in a type B certificate includes if the land has an industrial past, or if there is a droit de préemption (compulsory purchase order) on it or in the pipeline. 

As with a type A, a type B certificate can be obtained by the owner or anyone else. 

The owner will not be informed if a third party makes the request.

How can I ask for one?

The government is trying to move most administrative tasks online, so there are two ways of applying for a CU, depending on whether your commune has a téléservice or not. 

Although it is called a ‘téléservice’, the system is internet-based.

If it does have téléservice, you can use form Cerfa n° 13410*10 and fill it in online. 

For mairies without an online form, which includes most rural ones, either print out the form yourself or ask the marie to supply it. 

Once complete, hand it in to the mairie. The same form is used for type A and type B, with a box to tick indicating which one you want.

Read more: No state payout for requisitioned homes built illegally in France

What information must I give?

The form asks you to identify yourself and the plot of land, with a postal address and cadastral reference. 

The reference can be obtained online at cadastre.gouv.fr or by looking through the physical cadastre at the mairie.

How long before I get the information?

The mairie should give type A certificates within a month and type B within two months. 

If not, it can issue abridged certificates, and follow up later with full ones.