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Demarcation consists of determining the boundary between two adjoining plots of land definitively and marking the limit by physical boundary markers.

Demarcation is not mandatory (with some exceptions). It is, however, strongly advised.

  • Why demarcate your property?

    • Demarcation makes it possible to avoid conflicts relating to property limits, particularly in the event of encroachment, due to plantations or constructions on neighbouring land, for example.

    • Demarcation is only possible if the plots concerned are private properties (it is not possible when the plot is adjacent to land in the public domain, for example).

    • With respect to highways, demarcation is an administrative procedure which is known as alignment.

    • However, country lanes in the private domain may be demarcated.

  • How is it done?

    • Either by mutual agreement :
      if the two owners agree on the boundary separating their adjacent plots.
      The agreement should be recorded in a record of demarcation, prepared by a surveyor. The signature of such a document gives contractual value to the demarcation, the cost of which is shared by the parties.
      In order to make the boundary definitive, it is prudent to have the boundary report published in the real estate file. Thus no dispute over the boundaries of the land will be possible by the current owners of the land concerned but also by the following. The use of a notary is necessary.

    • Or through a court of law :
      If the two owners fail to agree on the boundary separating their properties, or if one of them refuses to have the properties demarcated amicably.
      The proceedings must be brought before the district court of the place in which the properties are located. The judge appoints an expert surveyor who carries out the demarcation operations. The professional prepares a project. If one of the parties objects, the judge decides.

  • Are there any situations in which demarcation is mandatory?

    • In principle, demarcation is only mandatory in two situations:

      1. when a request for demarcation is made by a neighbour (Article 646 of the French Civil Code (Code civil));

      2. when the land is intended to be used for the construction of a residential or mixed use (residential and professional) building, and constitutes:
      - a lot in a housing development for which a preliminary declaration must be made or development permit obtained;
      - a plot that derives from a division in a designated development area [Zone d’Aménagement Concerté].


Do not hesitate to consult your notaire. They can inform you in advance of the advantages of having your property properly demarcated, and also, if damage has already been done, save you from taking your dispute to court, through either conciliation or mediation. You will gain in terms of speed and effectiveness. This approach will also cost less than going to court.

See also
Conseil du coin : meet a french notaire to a cafe !
French property market report / N°37
Marius Kohler nouveau president des notaires d'europe - Janvier 2018
New Presidency of the CNUE
French property market report of Notaires de France - January 2018
French property market report / N°38