Follow France Éducation international

Penalties in the event of cheating

Cheating and attempts to cheat on an official exam or test set by the French government are crimes that result in disciplinary penalties and criminal procedures.


Official texts

The law of 23 December 1901 that prohibits cheating on exams and public competitive exams applies. Article 1 specifies that “any cheating in exams […] for the purpose of […] obtaining a diploma issued by the State constitutes a crime.

Article L.331-3 of the French Education Code repeats the aforementioned law. Two circulars outline the disciplinary procedures:

  • circular n°2021-05-001 of 12 May 2021 on disciplinary procedures punishing cheating in DILF, DELF, DALF diplomas;
  • circular n°2021-05-002 of 12 May 2021 on disciplinary procedures punishing cheating and falsifications in the French competency test (TCF)

Cases of cheating

Cheating during an exam is fraud.

The following actions are considered fraud:

  • having another person take your place during a test (this is identity fraud)
  • using a device to exchange or find information (mobile phone, smart watch, etc.)
  • taking a photo of the tests or recording the listening comprehension materials
  • using a device to listen to audio files
  • communicating with other candidates during the test
  • using paper or documents other than those provided
  • plagiarising (reproducing in part or in full existing documents that have been memorised or copied)
  • copying off your neighbour
  • falsifying an official document, such as a results certificate
  • using false documents to prove your identity
  • stealing confidential documents, such as the topics, etc.

The topics are strictly confidential. All reproduction or circulation, whether in part or in full (question, image, sound), by any means (photo, photocopy, internet, smartphone, social media) is strictly prohibited.

If you fail to comply with this instruction, France Éducation international reserves the right to take appropriate action. Any person, candidate in an exam or test and staff at the approved centre (administration, invigilator, assessor/examiner, manager, teacher) circulating the topics before or after the test period is liable to be subject to legal action.


In the event of being caught cheating, attempting to cheat or cheating being discovered, the candidate risks:

  • their results being invalidated,
  • being banned from sitting the exam or test for several years,
  • criminal sanctions for more serious cases.

Two types of sanctions can be applied:

  • Administrative sanctions: A candidate who is suspected of fraud will present their defence in writing to comply with the principle of the right to be heard (procédure contradictoire). The scope of sanctions changes according to the severity of the allegations and ranges from invalidating the exam or test to being banned from sitting the exam or test for a maximum period of five years.
  • Criminal sanctions: Cheating in exams and public competitive exams is a crime and will be dealt with under the French Criminal Code.

When marking tests and in the event of suspected cheating, France Éducation international and the assessors reserve the right to invalidate the results. In this case, the candidate will not be issued a certificate or diploma, but can resit the exam or test by paying a new registration fee.

Falsifying a diploma or certificate is a misdemeanour. France Éducation international will invalidate the diploma or certificate in question and will take disciplinary action.

The officials responsible for monitoring the file that requires a TCF confirmation (officials in prefectures, universities, campus France, etc.) have access to the results achieved by TCF candidates.

In addition, improper use or reproduction of test booklets, answer sheets and audio files are subject to criminal and civil penalties. 

Fighting fraud

France Éducation international and Le français des affaires of CCI Paris Île-de-France, the French language certification authorities, have joined forces to create a comprehensive plan to combat fraud. Joint measures have been put in place to punish equally anyone who contravenes the rules specific to each certification. 

France Éducation International and CCI Paris Île-de-France meet regularly to discuss the most appropriate legal solutions for combating fraud (identity theft, cheating, bribing) and those responsible for leaking subjects (breach of confidentiality, sharing with candidates before a session, public distribution).