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Car Insurance in France

Car insurance options available to those who want to drive in France including information on the green card

Car insurance is legally required in France

Car insurance is a legal requirement in France, as it is in Britain. Make no mistake about this, because not having car insurance is an offence punishable by six months in prison, and that is not the ideal way to spend your holiday or new life in France! However, although there is a lot of conflicting information out there about car insurance in France, it isn't as complicated as it may at first appear, and you can take heart from the fact that millions of Brits have already managed to sort it out satisfactorily.

Car insurance options

There are a number of options open to the British driver who wishes to drive in France. The best way forward depends very much on individual circumstances and requirements, and depends to some considerable degree on whether or not you are a resident of France, of another European Union country, or of a non EU country.

Car hire in France

If you are a short term visitor only, then you may find that a simple car hire agreement is the most straightforward solution for you. Car hire firms may offer special deals, and rates are usually competitive and reasonable. The advantage of doing this is that the car is easily available from your point of arrival in France, and can be dropped off at your point of departure, and you do not have to worry about insurance or "controle techniques" or complex registration processes! Car insurance through car hire firms in France differs as it does in the UK. It would always be best to hire the car through a reputable company, check what fully comprehensive insurance actually covers, and look into the costs of paying extra for collision damage waiver which may not be included initially.

Long-term solution for your car insurance in France

If, however, you are going to be in France for long periods of time, or on a very regular or permanent basis you will need to take the bull by the horns and finds a long term solution.

Car insurance for residents of Non European Union Countries

If you are resident of a non EU country such as Canada or the USA, you can take advantage of a great system known as the TT scheme. Citroën run one such scheme, in which you receive a car under temporary ownership at a very low price. Tax, insurance etc. is all taken care of for you, and you can use the car for a minimum of 17 days and a maximum of 180. The cars are fitted with easily recognisable plates, so you are unlikely to get any hassle from the police.

Car insurance in France using your existing car insurance company

The easiest way to insure your car in France if you are still resident in the UK, is to contact your existing car insurance company, to extend your UK policy to cover France. Usually cars are covered for third party in EU countries, but it would be advisable to increase cover to fully comprehensive. It would be well worth looking into the breakdown insurance that is offered too, as many offer an excellent package with English speaking assistance provided. Check the options on offer as some car insurance companies include everything in one package, while others offer a cheaper initial deal but leave out important cover. It would be worth making sure that the cover includes road-side assistance, replacement parts cover and providing over-night accommodation when necessary. Some will get your car back to the UK, others won't.

Green card system

If you have a UK registered vehicle which you wish to drive in France, you may wish to take out a Green Card .This is not an insurance policy in itself, but simply an internationally recognised card which guarantees that you have suitable legal insurance from your own country. It is not, strictly necessary for EU drivers in France, but it can be a useful item should you be stopped or, involved in any accident. Your insurer in England should be able to issue this card on request, and there should be no extra cost although some agents charge a small administrative fee. This option, however, is only suitable for those who are UK residents. If you are resident in France the rules are quite different. Please note also, that this is only suitable for those who only need to drive the vehicle in France for less than 90 days per year.

Car insurance for a second car in France

One option which you may consider is that of keeping a second car in France for use when you are in the country. This is feasible, but you must understand that the legal requirement for insuring such a vehicle is different from the requirement in Britain. In the UK, once you have filled in a SORN form you can legally withdraw insurance payments until such time as you wish to re-use the car. In France, although you must notify your insurer that your car is off the road, as in the UK, you are legally bound to maintain third party insurance on the vehicle at all times. Another factor to consider is the cost of second hand cars in France... if cost is an issue, which it is for many of us! Second hand cars in France are much more expensive, as a rule, than they are in Britain, so this needs to be built in to the planning if you are considering this option.

Car insurance for French residents

If you are a permanent resident in France you are bound by French law. French law states that if you are resident in France, insurance on your vehicle is part of your "responsibilité civile". If you are a French resident, to comply fully with French law you must register and insure your vehicles within the French system, which means changing your UK plate to a French plate (Taking a car to France and registering it in France). It is possible to legally drive a UK registered vehicle which is insured with a French insurer, but the time allowed for registration is one month, or up to a maximum of three months in the case where a vehicle needs to be approved via the DRIRE. It will be necessary to go the local Hotel des Impots and ask them for a quittus fiscal certificate. The certificate is free and incorporates your authority to drive your UK vehicle on its foreign plates for a month (or however long agreed by the authorities), whilst you arrange the registration.

Car insurance for UK number plates

Many French insurance companies are not keen to offer a service of insurance for UK plated vehicles, with insurance laws tightening up on allowing agents to issue insurance certificates for foreign cars. The most helpful I have found are Franck Haloche and Steffy Jego, based in Ernee in the Mayenne department, (tel: 02 43 05 21 82, email: 4005417@agents.allianz.fr) , who speak excellent English and explain things clearly at all times. They are happy to operate at a distance, so it doesn't matter whereabouts in France you are based, everything can be done through email, telephone and post. Or you can take a look at their website: www.france-insurance.co.uk,

However, even the most helpful firms have to ask you to change the registration to a French one, as soon as possible. It used to be that you could insure a British plated vehicle for up to a year, occasionally longer in certain circumstances, but now by law up to six months is allowed for non-residents, with many agents now asking that the French registration is completed much sooner, within three months in certain cases. Your insurance ticket must be displayed in the front windscreen of the car. You should also ask for a "European Accident Statement" form so that should you be unlucky enough to be involved in an accident you can take all the details for your insurer in the proper manner.

Car insurance and tax in France

There is another reason too, for changing to a French plate as soon as possible. If you have a UK plated vehicle which is based in France, yet you make trips to the UK in that vehicle, you can run into the problem of tax. In France there is no system of tax discs as there is in the UK. This means that unless you continue to pay to maintain a UK tax disc, when you enter the UK you are immediately driving illegally. A fully French registered vehicle in England does not face this problem, as the differences in the systems are recognised and accepted.

UK tax disc requirements

Watch out too for the UK legal requirement that when your tax disc expires, you must either renew it, file a Statutory Off Road Notification or file a declaration that the vehicle has been scrapped or exported. If you do not do any of these things you have commited a summary offense and there can be unpleasant consequences. So you must not neglect your UK responsibilities, even if you are complying with the French requirements. In practical terms this means that you once you have insured your car in France and then registered it in France, you must terminate your liability to a UK tax disc by making the statutory declaration, in this case, that your car has been exported.

French car insurance

French car insurance is similar to, but different from the British system in certain ways. It is basically three tier, with the minimum legal requirement being third party insurance (au tiers) only. Remember this is essential on all vehicles even if off road. The next level is third party, fire and theft, (au tiers illimité, or au tiers complet) and the third is the fully comprehensive, (tous risques). After this, bespoke packages can be created to suit, with your agent adding cover as required. Generally the cost is considerably less than the cost of similar insurance in the UK. Your no claims can usually be carried over from your British insurance, but you will need to supply... guess what... lots of paperwork! Your insurer will send you a ticket to place on the windscreen to show that the insurance is in place. He will also send you an accident form (constat amiable), which you should carry in your vehicle at all times.

Driving licences for French residents

And something else to bear in mind is that if you are now a French resident insuring with a French insurer, you may have to get an International driving licence or a French driving licence. It may sound simple but it isn't necessarily so. You have to be resident in France six months before you can apply to change your licence. The form to be filled in is obtainable from the Sous-Prefecture or similar office, and you also need two passport photos, proof of identity (passport) and proof of domicile (EDF or FranceTelecom bill, or better still, a French medical card obtained from a doctor).

UK driving licences for French residents

However, to avoid having to apply for an International driving licence or French one, it is now possible if you are a French resident, to keep your UK driving licence until it's date of expiry, but you must be aware of a few things. Firstly, this used to be a problem and still is with some French insurers, as many wouldn't accept a UK driving licence. As this is now EU law however, this shouldn't be a problem for much longer. Secondly, you must still have a UK address for your UK driving licence, even if it is your previous UK address. Thirdly, you will still need to follow French law regarding driving licences, eg: age restrictions, validity of licences, medical checks. And finally, if you incur penalty points or road traffic offenses on your licence in France, you will need to change to a French licence. This is more likely to occur if stopped in person by the police.

How to get French car insurance

Apart from those mentioned earlier who also deal with UK plated vehicles, there are insurance (assurance) agents in every town... probably several of them. If your French is good enough you could try the straightforward "walk in" approach and see what services they can offer you. (Learning to speak French - Misadventures in a Foreign Tongue). If your French is shaky, however, the tried and tested "word of mouth" system is useful. Talk to other ex-pats in your area, find out what companies they use and what services are offered.

French car insurance companies AXA, AGF, Credit Mutuel and CIC Insurance

Failing this, there are several large car insurance companies which are well versed in dealing with British drivers who need to insure vehicles in France. AXA, AGF, Credit Mutuel and CIC Insurance are among them. AXA have UK agents, and all companies have many English speaking staff (although not necessarily in every office). You do not, of course, need to insure with a local agent as everything is done by post, so you can use an English speaking agent from the other end if the country if you can't find one locally. Shop around until you find the package... and the agent... that suits you.

GIE Generali Agences (formerly Schreinemachers SARL) - offer policies in English

You could also try GIE Generali Agences (formerly Schreinemachers), which is an agency which specialises in providing French car insurance to UK ex-pats and English speakers (http://www.insurance.fr/). They are very helpful and quite often able to help with different situations and unusual requests.

Final car insurance advice

Insurance is one of those things in life which can seem an expensive hassle until you need it. Then it magically becomes the wisest and best thing you ever did!

Other articles which may be of interest:

French Connections
Introduction to France
Life in France

** Please note that the above article was updated in October 2010 **

About the author

Joanna Simm moved to the Languedoc area of south-west France in October 2004 having found her property through French Property Links.

your questions...

1. A visitor to the site is looking for a car to buy in south-west France (added 12/2/09)...

Hello - our daughter is now working and living in south-west France. After her green card ran out on the UK car (which has now been officially scrapped in France ) she finally found and bought an expensive second-hand Clio which was going great until an accident caused by a third party wrote it off. Now we need to find her a suitable car again with a smaller than hoped insurance settlement on the Clio. Can anyone help direct us to a decent left-hand registered car in this area around 2002-2009 plate - something like a Renault? Many thanks.

2. A question about keeping a car off-road in France (added 13/8/09)...

Hi there - because of the recession I have to return to New Zealand for 2/3 years. I have have had a French car for about 4 years. I attempted to sell it to the Ford dealer from whom I bought it, and even though the car is 10 years old, and has never gone wrong, they said they could scrap it for me! My problem is, that I have to pay the AXA insurance - which I understand is "obligatoire" - and I don't have the money to do this. I simply want to leave the car in my garage until I return but without paying the insurance - how can I do this? Thank you.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I'm afraid that you do have to pay some insurance if you own the vehicle, even if it is kept in the garage and not used. But if you inform the insurers that it is off the road the insurance is usually not too expensive.

3. A question about scrapping a car in France (added 13/8/09)...

I've read your webpage with great interest. We have an old UK registered car in France and don't think it will last much longer. Can we scrap it in France? And what is the procedure?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have checked with my colleague Joanna in France to see if she knows anything about the scrapping procedure, and she has the following to say:

"We have been trying to scrap an old car for months at our local scrapyard... no success to date so we are still paying insurance on a wreck that hasn't moved for two years! So guess what... it isn't simple... is anything here?

Firstly, you need all the paperwork before they will scrap it. That means carte grise, insurance docs, your passport etc... bill of sale and so on. The problem we are having is that it is a vicious circle... we bought it and found it didn't have an MOT... neither the seller (English) nor we knew at the time that the seller has to MOT it before sale. Hence, when it broke down (immediately!), we couldn't register it in our name because it had no MOT... and we couldn't get an MOT because we couldn't afford the parts needed (try a whole new car!) to fix it. No way it can be scrapped because we aren't officially the owners, as we haven't been able to transfer it officially. We actually went to scrap it with the old owners, but they are no longer officially the owners either... get the picture? And yet, all of us are apparently owners enough to have to pay insurance for the car... which is now residing in a field being a home for squirrels etc. Oh what fun.

So, my advice is...

If it is at all possible to avoid scrapping it in France, please do! Maybe if you have all the paperwork etc you will be ok... though I'm not sure you will get the same scrap value here as in the UK. This you should check out. Also, as you have a UK registered car, this will almost certainly allow them to come up with some complications here in France."

I hope this has been of use. I guess the first place to go is your local scrapyard, see what they say and then go from there. Good luck with it all!

An update from a visitor to the site (added 20/1/10)...

A visitor to our site has kindly forwarded an account of his experience with scrapping his car:

I went through the same process with my old car two years ago and was about to give up when there was a knock at the door. A young local man had noticed the car slowly declining outside my house and wondered if I wanted to sell it for the parts as he had a small business selling car parts. I told him that it was not for sale, but he could have it free of charge as long as it never came back. He was delighted and returned the next day with his father and an old tractor. His father thanked me and gave me a bottle of home-made spirit for my kindness. I have never seen or heard of the car since.

*** See "Your Comments" section No. 5 for further information on scrapping cars ***

4. A question about cancelling car insurance (added 15/10/09)...

Hi - was wondering if you could help me out with the situation at hand, with regards to a car I purchased in France. I bought the car in France over one year ago now and moved to the UK where I now reside. About seven months ago my French car broke down about three weeks after being here and it was a huge amount of money to fix so I didn't bother. The car was then towed away which I have got proof of from RACV that it got towed back to my home and they suggested I sold it for scrap metal. But I don't have a document to say that. I signed the persons document and we made agreement that he had full ownership and both signed the A4 piece of paper which we both signed on the 12th of April.

The car is most likely scrap metal as it was undriveable and could not be taken back to French soil. Now my French insurance company is saying they won't cancel the insurance policy. They are expecting me to pay for a car I don't have anymore. Which I think is outrageous seeing as I don't even live there anymore and will not be returning. I've sent them proof of the sale and the towing and how it was bought.

Can't they just track the numberplate and see where it was last and they will find out it's no longer in France and insured. And if the car is not in France why would I need to pay for it? Can you explain what I can do?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in touch with my colleague who lives in France who says that this sort of thing is so typical. She says French insurance companies won't cancel policies unless you can provide buckets of paperwork.

You don't say exactly what is needed by the insurance company to cancel your policy with them, but I assume it is the details of the scrappage. Could you not contact the person who took it off your hands and get this from them? Or get a bill of sale sorted between you if this is needed?

Or what about just cancelling further payments from your bank? That would be the easiest option if you are paying on a montly basis. Although if you have paid in full and are seeking a refund from the insurance company, this obviously won't apply.

I'm afraid that is all the advice we can offer from here, but wish you luck in sorting it all out.

5. A question about leaving a car in France (added 12/11/09)...

Hello... I have just been reading about having an UK car in France, thanks for all your info. So... just to check with you, if I don't want to register it in France and I can get my insurance company to say that 90 days in France is acceptable, is that it? Ideally I would like to leave the car here in France from March to September, but think that sounds too long. Do you know any loopholes which can let me leave the car here for longer than 90 days?

Any advice gratefully accepted!

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have checked with my colleague in France and understand that if you want to have your car in France for longer than your UK insurance company will accept, then your only option really is to insure the car through a French insurance company, maybe trying AXA or AGF. She mentions one she knows of in her neck of the woods who is Philippe Nelkin, AVIVA , Mirepoix (09). If he might be of use, his telephone number is 0561681685 and he apparently speaks good English.

I'm sorry we cannot be of more help.

6. A question about insuring a car in the UK for French residents (added 22/7/10)...

We are British with our main residence in France. We have a second home in the UK that we visit three or four times a year. A family member has recently given us his car to use as a runabout when we return. We are finding it impossible to obtain insurance for the car as we are no longer classed as British residents. I have made numerous calls to insurance companies without success. Do you know of any way I can insure the car? Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in contact with my colleague in France who wonders whether you have just checked UK insurance companies. Have you tried French insurance companies too? She says it may be possible to insure the car with a French company, to be used for short term use in the UK. (She has a British registered scooter which she has insured with a French company, which is currently in the UK. The French company are aware of this and the insurance cover is valid for the UK.) Other than perhaps this also being possible for UK registered cars, I am unsure how your problem can be resolved. I'm sorry to not be able to help you further, but would be very interested to hear from you should you find a solution.

Update...

What a rigmarole trying to sort this out but we eventually did. Our French insurers gave us the expected Gallic shrug.

I was determined to find something but the non-resident factor kept blocking any chance. I searched ex-pat chat rooms and came across many similar incidences but one in particular mentioned an insurance company run by a Dutch man who was fluent in English and French and very knowledgeable. So I thought him worth contacting.

In a nutshell he said that there should be no reason if you are a UK home owner to be refused insurance - non-residents are considered high risk hence the exorbitant insurance rates for temp car insurance (£25 a day for just one driver). He advised that we contact two insurance companies who are prepared to consider unusual requests, namely SAGA & NFU. I phoned what would be our local NFU branch in Lancashire and spoke to a nice young man. He checked with their HO and bish bash bosh - fully comprehensive insurance arranged for us at a rate we would have paid if we were resident in the UK.

The very nice Dutch man is at Schreinemachers based in the Gers & can be found at http://www.insurance.fr/index.html for those who may find themselves in a similar situation.

7. A question about re-insuring a car in France, once insurance has lapsed (added 22/7/10)...

Hi, I moved to France and brought my UK insured car with me in December 2009. I have had the car off the road in France for the last six months and so I cancelled my UK insurance policy in January. Now I want to use the car again and I have just applied for a carte grise and have got a provisional certificate. I now want to get French insurance but have been told that I can't get the car insured as I don't have continuous insurance cover since January 2010. Can you help with how I can get the car insured? I didn't think I needed insurance as the car was off the road (as is the case in England) but now it seems that I may have had the car here illegally even though we haven't driven it since January.

Joanna Simm, author of the above article replies...

Yes, it is illegal not to insure your car in France, insurance is necessary even if the car hasn't been used. I do have a good insurance firm though who will insure a UK registered car for up to a year before it gets a carte grise, so you could try them, explaining your situation. If they can't help, I am sure they could tell you what to do. Their details are as follows:

Claire Martinet or Frank Haloche
Agent General
37 Rue Amiral Courbet
53500 ERNEE

Email: 4005417@agents.allianz.fr

Please say that Joanna Simm recommended them if you don't mind... goodwill is all! They are very good and they speak excellent English too... especially Claire.

8. A question about short term car insurance (added 23/11/10)...

I just purchased a car in the UK with intentions of sending it back home to the USA, but before I do that, I would like to use it in Nice, France for a short period (30 to 60 days) before I ship it over. I'm an American resident, with a American driving licence. Can I possibly get a short term insurance for this matter? The car has UK plates. My wife is a French resident, so would it be easier to do it through her? Would it be easier to keep the car registered in the UK under the seller's name and insure it there, and bring it here for 30 days as a tourist?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. If you now own the car I would think you will need insurance in your name, but you could try UK insurance companies who may cover you for 30-60 days in France. Perhaps you could also try the insurers mentioned above who are based in France.

9. A question about French car insurance and cars not in France (added 28/12/10)...

Hello, please could you help disentangle our problem. We have a house in France which we regard as home. Currently we have to be in the north-east of Germany for work but we visit our house regularly, on average once every two months. The longest period of absence since we came here in November 2008 has been two months five days. I have spent 100 or so days living there in the last twelve months.

We also have a car, which is registered in France and insured with Credit Mutuel, in both cases against our French address. When we came here, we wrote to Credit Mutuel, explaining our new situation. We had no reply. We are now trying to establish that our motor insurance is still valid. Credit Mutuel are not replying, denying receipt of faxes and generally being unhelpful. Language is not an issue because our French neighbour has drafted the letters and conducted the telephone calls. He speaks fluent English.

Looking at Wikipedia, it seems that each insurance contract includes a Carte Verte. Thus it is valid in each Carte Verte country, EU included. There is a provision that if the car is out of France for three months or more, then it must be insured in the country where it is. We have always used the car for our visits to France, public transport is difficult at both ends. Therefore it has not been out of France at any time for more than two months five days. So I think we are covered.

I and particularly my husband, who has wound himself up into a sleepless state over this matter, would be very grateful for your help asap. If you haven't time yourself, could you recommend an insurance agent?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. As mentioned previously in this article, perhaps you could try the following agents:

Claire Martinet or Frank Haloche
Agent General
37 Rue Amiral Courbet
53500 ERNEE

Tel: 02 43 05 21 82
Email: 4005417@agents.allianz.fr

They speak excellent English and explain things clearly at all times and are very helpful. They are happy to operate at a distance, so it doesn't matter whereabouts in France you are based, everything can be done through email, telephone and post.

10. A question about insuring an unused car (added 4/3/11)...

Hi - I have insured my Range Rover with AXA for the last four years, fully comprehensive. Unfortunately it has developed a piston problem and I am unable to drive it until I get a new engine sent over and refitted. I shall not be doing this until the summer, five to six months after my fully comp. insurance is renewed in March. I wish to down grade the insurance to 3rd party, but should it include fire and theft as it is outside?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I'm afraid I cannot answer your question except to say it is entirely up to you. If you are at all uneasy about leaving your car outside without being covered for fire and theft, it is probably best to take the extra insurance cover, if for nothing but peace of mind. I don't think you have to take this cover by law, 3rd party should be fine, but it would perhaps be best to check with AXA about this.

11. A question about car insurance for 13 months (added 4/3/11)...

I wonder if you can help me please. I am travelling by car to France on 19th February for a stay of 13 months and I'm finding the question of getting insurance and European breakdown cover very difficult. My current insurer will only insure me for a short time (with RAC European breakdown cover), but I thought I would just be able to get French insurance a couple of weeks into my stay, which is not the case wkithout registering the car in France. I have just found out about a UK insurer (Andrew Copeland Insurance Ltd) who will insure the car for 12 months - 11 months in France and 28 days in the UK. I don't think the 28 days have to be consecutive, but will ring them before the weekend to ask if this is correct and if it gets around having to register the car in France and the 6 months in 12 on UK plates rule. The car is 13 years old, value £500 and Copelands will only insure 3rd party, fire and theft, no breakdown cover. I hadn't heard of this company before, but they are registered on the FSA website for dealing with insurance products.

Do you think this policy would deal with the problem of registration and the 6 month rule? I don't really want to register if I don't have to as I'm planning on living in two different departments during my visit, and if I return to the UK I would then have to re-register it there. I have a UK property which is, and will remain, my permanent home, albeit I am currently trying to rent it out. Do you know if I will have to become a French resident during the 12 month period, even with a permanent UK home and making a couple of trips back to the UK?

One further question - do you know of any companies that I could contact re: European breakdown cover who would provide just that for the year?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. As mentioned previously, I would suggest you contact the insurer's, Frank Haloche or Claire Martinet, based in Ernee in the Mayenne department, (tel: 02 43 05 21 82, email: 4005417@agents.allianz.fr), who speak excellent English and explain things clearly at all times.

They might be able to help with both insurance and breakdown cover, or if not, may well be able to explain the options you have and point you in the right direction. Being French and based in France, they will know what rules and regulations you must abide by.

12. A question about insuring a car for visitors (added 4/3/11)...

We own three cars all fully comp. insured via AXA. We want to be able to allow a British visitors use of a car whilst they are here on holiday. Given that they are legally qualified drivers, ie: insured and fully licensed at home in England, do they have full cover here when driving our car? Thank you in anticipation.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest you contact AXA and ask them, and also get your visitors to check with their insurance companies in the UK, as this will vary with each company.

If they do not provide this cover, you could check with the insurers mentioned above, as they seem to be able to help with most things.

13. A question about purchasing a car in Spain and importing it to France (added 14/4/11)...

Do you have any advice in terms of temporary insurance plans for the following situation? My fiance and I are now residing in Toulouse for work. We have found several vehicles in the Barcelona area that we are interested in purchasing. We are intending to rent a car and drive to Barcelona on the weekend in order to see the vehicles and most likely purchase one of them. We would then like to immediately drive it back to France with the intention of registering it as a French vehicle. Do you know if we need to have insurance from the time we purchase the vehicle until the time we are back in Toulouse? If so, do you know of any insurance company that offers temporary insurance, without knowing the exact vehicle information?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would think you would need insurance from the point of owning the vehicle, so would suggest you contact the agents mentioned above, who might well be able to provide you with cover.

14. A question about car tax in France (added 14/4/11)...

Is there annual car tax in France? I have two cars both registered in France with a Certificate d' Immatriculation and both insured. But I don't have car tax or have I paid it when I registered the cars? And if so is this a once off payment?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Car tax is currently not paid annually in France as it is in the UK. There is a charge/tax which you will have paid when you first registered your cars, and this works in lieu of an annual tax. This would have been a one-off payment, with no further tax due on your cars.

15. A question about buying a car with a US driving licence (added 14/4/11)...

I would like to know if I can buy a car in France, and register and insure it as well? I am French citizen (and U.S. citizen) but I would like to use my U.S. driving licence (as a visitor). Is that possible or legal (to avoid taking the French driving exams)?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understand that US citizens who are French residents are required to apply for a French driving licence if they want to buy, register and insure a car in France and/or after one year from the date of their first Carte de Séjour.

What exams you would need to take depends on where in the US your driving licence was issued ie: whether you have to do both the driving test and the written exam or just written exam.

However, as I am not an expert in these matters, I would suggest you contact your local Préfecture de Police, Préfecture, Sous Préfecture or French embassy/consulate, who would be able to give you accurate advice.

16. A question about car insurance and an MOT (added 20/5/11)...

We have recently insured a UK car in France via a company recommended to us in Nice who are happy to insure UK plate cars. Do we need an MOT and if so, apart from the Insurance document what else would we need to get this?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest you check with your insurance company as to what you need, though I would assume a current MOT/Côntrole Technique is required. Our article "Taking a car to France and registering it in France" (http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/registering-car-france.html) writes about what you need to do to get a Côntrole Technique, though this does seem to depend on where you get this done. It might be easier to check with the garage concerned.

17. A question about cheaper car insurance (added 8/12/11)...

Hi - I have a LHD French registered and insured car. I am insured with Groupama but it seems very expensive (over 350 Euros for basic cover with less than 8000 kilometre "milage" per year). Does anyone know of cheaper options? Also is it possible to get an English version of the form one uses in case of accident? Any help would be appreciated.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. You may like to try the following agents, previously mentioned in this article, for your car insurance:

Claire Martinet or Frank Haloche
Agent General
37 Rue Amiral Courbet
53500 ERNEE

Tel: 02 43 05 21 82
Email: 4005417@agents.allianz.fr

They speak excellent English and explain things clearly at all times and are very helpful. They are happy to operate at a distance, so it doesn't matter whereabouts in France you are based, everything can be done through email, telephone and post.

You could also ask them about an English version of the accident form.

18. A question about keeping a second car in France (added 8/12/11)...

Hi, I have been reading all of your advice on car insurance with interest! We are in the process of buying a holiday home in France and would like to keep a car there for use when the house is occupied. Due to the cost of buying second hand cars in France, it is our intention to bring a car over from the UK. What should we do about insurance? Can we insure it via a UK insurer (in which case can we keep the British plates and do we need to keep paying annual road tax in the UK?) or must we use a French insurer (in which case I am assuming that we must convert the car to french number plates?)

Does anyone have any advice?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. With regards to keeping a car in France, I understand some UK companies will insure such a car in this situation with UK plates, but usually only for a period of 90 days. Also I think you would have to keep your UK tax up-to-date to satisfy their criteria. Certainly if you ever returned to the UK with the car you would be driving illegally without the tax disc.

French companies may insure the vehicle with UK plates, but most now want you to register for French plates if the car is staying in France. I would suggest you contact the following agents, previously mentioned, who may well be able to help with insurance, or at least point you in the right direction:

Claire Martinet or Frank Haloche
Agent General
37 Rue Amiral Courbet
53500 ERNEE


Tel: 02 43 05 21 82
Email: 4005417@agents.allianz.fr

19. A question about period of car insurance (added 8/12/11)...

Hi - when I renewed my insurance the new contract stated insurance from Feb 2011 to Nov 2011. I asked why it only ran for nine months at the time and got no response. Stupidly I didn't pursue it and now AXA are wanting me to renew now. I am arguing that I thought it was for one year but they insist I pay now even though it shouldn't be renewed until end of Jan 2012. Also I paid 800 Euros for this and the contract showed only 600 Euros. I have emailed them a number of times and they just ignore my questions. Surely insurance should run for a year? The previous one did. Can you help?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Car insurance can be taken out for any amount of time, but I have always understood most car insurance policies to run from year to year ie: on a yearly basis. But as I do not know the ins and outs of your insurance, I think the only thing you can do in this case is get an answer from your insurers. If they don't respond to your emails, ring them.

You may also wish to contact the following agents who are mentioned many times in this article, who may be able to help:

Claire Martinet or Frank Haloche
Agent General
37 Rue Amiral Courbet
53500 ERNEE


Tel: 02 43 05 21 82
Email: 4005417@agents.allianz.fr

20. A question about being refused insurance in France (added 31/1/12)...

I have been insured for my car with AXA for ten years. They now have refused me car insurance because of the amount of claims since 2008.

I have had six claims of which three were not my responsibility. Of the other three, one was for a broken windscreen hit by a stone, one was when I had a very minor bump with another car and the damage was so slight to his rear light I think 20 Euros would have covered it but the driver asked me to sign the accident form which I did not understand. One year later I found he put in a claim after a long period of time. I asked AXA why they paid and they said I had signed the form. He obviously had an accident somewhere else and claimed on the form I signed.

As AXA wouldn't insure me I went to Groupama who said they would insure me and gave me a green insurance sticker for 2012. A few days before a drunk driver crossed the white line and hit my car causing body damage. He admitted responsibity and I had two witnesses. AXA said it was not my responsibility and claimed against the other insurance. Now Groupama will not insure me because the last accident added points and was classed as a claim.

I have now tried everywhere and I cannot get insured. I have a clean French licence and feel very upset that because I was hit by another car and it was not my fault, the total points because of this last accident is stopping me being insured in France. This means I have to go back to the UK after twenty years here. I have heard of a French law which says one cannot be refused car insurance in France and one should go the Prefecture who has to arrange insurance. Is this true?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am unsure about a French law stating that one cannot be refused car insurance I'm afraid, so I would suggest you contact the agents, Claire Martinet or Frank Haloche, who we mention several times in our article. (See above for contact details.)

21. A question about insuring a car in France for four months (added 31/1/12)...

Hi - I have followed the discussion on this website with interest. I have come to Provence for four months. The maximum period abroad any Irish insurer offers is three months. I had hoped to be able to find a French insurer who could cover my car for either the extra month or for the full four months, and I contacted the company recommended by you here (Claire Martinet or Frank Haloche). However the minimum period they would offer is twelve months and I would also have to re-register my car.

Has anyone else insured a foreign registered car for a short period and can they advise me as to how they did it, as re-registering for four months seems insane.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understand the laws for car insurance in France are tightening up all the time, so finding an insurance that will cover you for more than 90 days without re-registering is now an issue. I assume the agents you contacted could not refer you on to someone else, as they could not help?

Have you tried AXA and AGF, or perhaps Philippe Nelkin, AVIVA , Mirepoix (09), all of which we mention in our article? (If he might be of use, his telephone number is 056168185 and he apparently speaks good English.)

Or we have also mentioned a very nice Dutch man who helped a visitor to our site. He was at Schreinemachers based in the Gers and could be found at http://www.insurance.fr/index.html. Maybe he is still there. He recommended two insurance companies who are prepared to consider unusual requests, namely SAGA and NFU.

Update on the above..

Just to let you know the outcome of all this. Schreinemachers were extremely helpful, even knowing the full details of my situation! Through them, I have taken out insurance with Generali for a year, and when I leave France I can cancel it and they will refund the premium on a pro-rata basis. They included documentation on how to go about re-registering my car "In case I decide to stay". I suspect there is a legal requirement to do that.

22. A question about how to reduce car insurance costs on a "holiday" car (added 29/3/12)...

I am UK resident but with a property in France that is visited during the winter and main summer season for a maximum of about eight weeks. I have an old-ish VW Golf TDi that is French registered and insured fully comprehensive for any driver. However, this is now costing over 600 Euros per annum and on my very limited use basis is becoming extremely expensive. I could cancel the contract (eventually) or reduce coverage but what would be ideal is a more flexible contract at lower cost. Any thoughts?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Other than selling your car in France and using your UK registered car while you are in France (I think the maximum time you can usually be covered for this is 90 days), or hiring a car for while you are in France, it may be just a matter of searching for different insurers. You could try the agents mentioned above, who seem to be very helpful.

23. A question about UK car tax and car insurance (added 29/3/12)...

Hi, I am going to move to France with my UK car, I have to renew my road tax this week, my insurance is finishing in June. I don't what to do? Please can I have some advice.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. You don't say when you will be moving to France, but if you need to drive your car in the UK before you move, it must be taxed in the UK. So I would think you have to re-tax it, and then claim the tax back if possible, for the months you haven't used.

UK car insurance can usually be extended to cover a car in France, for up to 90 days, before you will have to find alternative insurance. But this varies with insurance companies so I would check with yours.

24. A question about insurance for a motorhome (added 29/3/12)...

I'm bringing a motorhome - compass avantgarde based on a peugeot boxer chassis to France and need all the help I can get.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest you try Schreinemachers or Claire Martinet/Frank Haloche, all of whom are mentioned above.

25. A question about problems getting insurance (added 13/6/12)...

My husband works in Saudi Arabia and we have just found out that because he is no longer a permanent UK resident, he cannot be insured to drive his own car. He regularly travels back to the UK and has 40 years experience. It is our intention to drive to our holiday home in France in August and would appreciate if anyone can tell us how my husband can get insurance.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest you contact Schreinemachers (http://www.insurance.fr/) who seem to be very helpful with all car insurance issues.

26. A question about buying a French registered car that is in the UK (added 31/7/12)...

I would like to buy a French registered car that is at present in the UK. The present owner says that the car is insured until January and I can just drive it away. I find this hard to believe. Also I need to drive this to Bulgaria, so I would need a green card. If you have any advice, I'd appreciate it. Many thanks.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest you contact Schreinemachers (http://www.insurance.fr/) or Claire Martinet or Frank Haloche. All are mentioned above.

27. A question about French insurance and cover in the UK (added 29/8/12)...

I would like my RHD car to be insured by a French insurance company, will I be covered for the seven months I spend in England? The car is now French registered.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. As car insurances may differ with regards to situations such as this, I would suggest you contact one of the following agents who would be able to advise you:

Schreinemachers (http://www.insurance.fr/)

or Claire Martinet or Frank Haloche (see above for contact details)

28. A question about insuring a car in France with UK plates (added 4/10/12)...

We have a RHD UK car which we keep in France. We told DVLA it is exported. We have no intention of bringing the car back to the UK. It has UK plates. It has a CT. For the last two years it has been insured with MAAF (in Toulouse I think) and MAAF have never queried the English plate. Do you think I should do anything?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. My colleague Joanna, who lived in France for many years, says she would not do anything unless the insurer says you have to. If they want you to get rid of the UK plates they will say so. And she thinks they have to give you a time limit too.

An update from a concerned visitor to the site (added 2/4/13)...

If you have a UK reg car & use it here in France it must comply fully with UK rules - be taxed, have a UK MOT & UK insurance. Your answer above is particularly worrying - these people have a car that is now not registerd anywhere (it has been declared as exported) so is not entitled to be on the road with the non existent UK number. The French code de la route would interpret this as "fraudulent use" (Article L317-3). (See Comment no. 9 in our "your comments" section.)

29. A question about declaring accidents on cars no longer owned (added 4/10/12)...

My boyfriend had an accident in our car in the UK which was written off. We bought a new one which we had been driving but now the UK insurance has run out. Do we need to declare his accident to the French insurers?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. As you are insuring a different car with a different insurance company, unless you are specifically asked to report to them prior accidents/claims, I am not sure this would be necessary. But I would be very careful to read the small print, as your new insurance may be invalidated should you come to make a claim, if you have not abided by the new insurance company's rules.

And I would also suggest perhaps you check this with one of the insurance agents we have mentioned many times in the above article, as I am no expert in these matters. The agents are Frank Haloche/Claire Martinet (tel: 02 43 05 21 82, email: 4005417@agents.allianz.fr) or Schreinemachers (http://www.insurance.fr/index.html).

30. A question about points on driving licences (added 4/10/12)...

Do I have to tell my French insurance company that I have lost one point on my French driving licence.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would think it might be safer to inform your French insurance company, or at least check your policy carefully to see if the question of points was raised at the time you took the policy out. I would be very careful to read the small print, as your insurance may be invalidated should you come to make a claim, if you have not abided by the insurance company's rules. Certainly in the UK you would usually have to tell the insurance company. You could also check this with one of the insurance agents mentioned above.

31. A question about French insurance with UK plates (added 4/10/12)...

Hi - I am resident in France. I have a UK plated car currently taxed & mot'd. I curently have French insurance through MAIF. I would like to keep the UK plates as it will be easier to sell in the UK later. My problem is that my car is flagged up in the UK as uninsured. I have explained the situation to the DVLA and stalled the problem. If, I have a French insurer who is registered on the UK- Motor Insurance Bureau database I will be OK. I travel back two or three times per year. Any ideas please.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. If you are taxed and MOT'ed in the UK, have valid French car insurance, and have notified the DVLA of this and are complying with what they say, I am not sure why there would be a problem.

Though I suppose it may just be easier to change to an insurance company that is registered on the UK Motor Insurance Bureau database, rather than having to explain the situation and provide the necessary papers if stopped.

For further advice, you may wish to contact the agents we mention above.

32. A question about car insurance when you have no permanent address (added 13/12/12)...

We sold our house in UK in the summer and moved to a temporary rental whilst we arranged our house purchase in France. We've now signed the compromise on our French property and expect to "complete" somewhere between 20th February and 7th March 2013. Our tenancy ends in January 2013 so there will be a few weeks when we have no UK address and have not fully completed on the French house, so therefore no French address. Accommodation for this time is not a problem but what could you advise about car insurance? Any advice very gratefully received.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest you speak to your current insurers, to see what they have to say. Or you could contact Schreinemachers, who we mention above many times. This is an agency which specialises in providing French car insurance to UK ex-pats and English speakers (http://www.insurance.fr/index.html). They are very helpful and quite often able to help with different situations and unusual requests.

33. A question about keeping UK cars in France (added 24/1/13)...

Hello, I would like to know if it is possible to keep a UK car in France if I intend to live in France. Is driving a car on the right allowed for a longer than holiday? Many thanks in advance for your answer.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Yes, it is possible to keep a UK car in France. Perhaps our article "Taking a car to France and registering it in France" (http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/registering-car-france.html) will give you an idea of what is involved.

34. A question about how to check the validity of a car insurance (added 28/2/13...

Good afternoon! I was wondering if I can check the validity of a car insurance made in France. Is there any website where I can do this?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I'm afraid I am not aware of any website where you can do this. Perhaps you could try contacting Schreinemachers, who we mention above many times. As we say, this is an agency which specialises in providing French car insurance to UK ex-pats and English speakers (http://www.insurance.fr/index.html). And although you are not necessarily using them to take out insurance, they are very helpful and quite often able to help with different situations and unusual requests.

Should anyone reading this be able to help further with this question, please do get in touch.

35. A question about cancelling car insurance (added 3/5/13)...

What is the procedure if you sell your car in France and need to cancel the insurance?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest you contact your insurance company to find this out, as it may differ with different companies.

36. A question about where to insure, register and tax a car (added 3/5/13)...

Hi - I'm going to France with a UK plated car which is left hand drive and originally was registered in Germany. It has no MOT or tax at the moment and I've not insured it yet. I'm going to be in France for at least a year. I'm bit confused with what to do. Do I insure there, tax here, register there, MOT here? Could you please tell me your advice?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would think you would probably have to register the car in France and insure it in France, if you are going to be there over a year. But you will also have to have all the legal documentation in place when you start driving it, which may be in the UK, so you may have to start out with sorting out your tax, MOT, insurance over here first.

I would suggest you could contact Schreinemachers(http://www.insurance.fr/index.html), who we have mentioned many times above. They are very helpful and quite often able to advise on different situations.

37. A question to do with changing insurance policies mid-term (added 25/7/13)...

I am concious of comments at the end of this article re AXA.

After seven years as a French resident with a French car I got fed up with paying 1000 Euros pa for car insurance. So on 20 June I contacted Direct Assurance and cutting a long story short I was accepted with cover effective from 3 July to 1 August 2013 subject to paperwork verification. I have sent them all the papers they require including all cover notes etc from AXA since 2007. The price 600 Euros!

I am now trying to get away from AXA and notified my existing brokers accordingly. The response I got took me by surprise as follows:

"I'm afraid that in France it is impossible to switch insurance companies mid-term - the policy must first be cancelled. In order to cancel an insurance policy in France a letter by registered post must be received by the insurance company at least two months in advance of the renewal date (your renewal date was 01/06/2013). Thus you will have to annull your insurance with Direct Assurance, stating that you currently hold insurance for the Volvo with us."

In other words you get one shot to cancel and if you miss it tough luck. Are these guys in the real world or what? Surely this cannot be true. Your advice would be most welcome as to how I get out of this quandary. I have paid three months in advance to Direct Assurance and AXA are still taking money for the original policy!

Incidentally Direct Assurance is a subsidiary/division of AXA!

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understand all companies have their rules and regulations, but this seems particularly harsh. Especially as you say Direct Assurance is part of AXA. I do know other insurance policies which have policies that are yearly though, so you cannot get out of them if you want to after a few months, you must pay for the full year (pet insurance for example).

Anyway, as I have suggested many times above, I would suggest you contact Schreinemachers (http://www.insurance.fr/index.html). They are very helpful and quite often able to advise on different situations.

38. A question about where to insure a car (added 30/8/13)...

We are in the UK and have bought a Spanish registered car which we intend to take to France and leave at our holiday home in the south of France. The villa is not too far from the Spanish border, so should we insure it in Spain? At the moment it doesn't have insurance or tax and we need to take it to France in September. Your help would be appreciated.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would think you might have to re-register it in France and insure it in France, if you are going to leave it there. I do not know about Spanish insurance companies I'm afraid.

I would contact GIE Generali Agences (formerly Schreinemachers), which is an agency which specialises in providing French car insurance to UK ex-pats and English speakers (http://www.insurance.fr/index.html). I have heard they are very helpful and often able to advise on different situations.

39. Where to find insurance cover for nine months for a UK registered car (added 30/8/13)...

I have spoken with a number of Insurers and an insurance broker regarding long term insurance of UK cars in France but cannot get cover. The broker is telling us the standard UK insurance will cover up to 90 days in France. We are planning on being in France for nine months so do not wish to register the cars as French. They will be covered by Road Tax and MOT for the nine months. Can you recommend an insurer that will extend cover to France for nine months?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. This may be a problem now, insuring a car for nine months in France with UK registration. Have you tried contacting the companies we mention in the above article? There is GIE Generali Agences (formerly Schreinemachers - http://www.insurance.fr/index.html), who we mention many times. I have heard only good things about them, and they might be able to help. Or Frank Haloche and Claire Martinet, insurance agents based in Ernee in the Mayenne department (tel: 02 43 05 21 82, email: 4005417@agents.allianz.fr).

40. A question about finding insurance for a US citizen (added 30/8/13)...

I'm a US citizen with a US driver's license and I will be in France during Sept. and Oct. with my British friend and his UK registered and insured car. I am having a hard time finding someone to insure me driving his car in France for two months. Have any solutions?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Have you tried GIE Generali Agences (formerly Schreinemachers - http://www.insurance.fr/index.html)? They are very helpful and quite often able to advise on different situations, so may be able to point you in the right direction if they can't help.

An update to the above...

Thanks for responding. Yes, I tried them. They responded to me and said that they couldn't help. They directed me to Andrew Copland. They also said that they couldn't help. I don't understand why this insurance situation is being rejected by everyone. Anyway, in the end, I may just have to rent a car to get the coverage. More expense. Shame.

Our reply...

I'm not sure what the problem is either. I guess you have also tried Frank Haloche or Claire Martinet (tel: 02 43 05 21 82, email: 4005417@agents.allianz.fr) who we mention in the above article?

And I assume you have you tried getting your friend to add you on to his UK policy for two months, and that this is not possible?

41. A question about possibly having to register a vehicle in France (added 30/8/13)...

I am establishing a vineyard in France which requires multiple visits using my UK registered car. The total time spent in France is more than six months but is split up over several periods, none being more than six months. Is it necessary to register the vehicle in France?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have a feeling that perhaps you might have to register your car in France, unless you can find an insurance company to cover you for the time you will be in France. Though perhaps if you were able to take out insurance each time you went to France (rather than one extended cover for the whole period), it may be possible to keep your car UK registered. I would check with your UK insurance company to see if they can cover you for multiple shorter visits, taken out one at a time if need be. And as mentioned above, you could also try GIE Generali Agences (formerly Schreinemachers), which is an agency which specialises in providing French car insurance to UK ex-pats and English speakers (http://www.insurance.fr/index.html), including temporary car insurance cover for foreign registered cars. They are very helpful and quite often able to help with different situations and unusual requests.

42. Finding insurance for stays of six months in both Franch and the UK (added 7/11/13)...

I am looking for a company that will insure a French registered and French insured (at present) car for use in both France and the UK. Most insurance in France seems to cover for up to three months driving outside France and UK companies will not insure a French registered car. I would like to be able to drive for six months in both UK and France. Can anyone help?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I think you may have a problem. Have you tried contacting GIE Generali Agences (formerly Schreinemachers SARL), for their advice? They are usually very helpful.

Should anyone reading this be able to advise, please do get in touch.

43. Questions about getting a French car back on the road (added 27/3/14)...

I have a house in France, but am a UK resident. I own a vehicle in France on French Registration plates - but currently in SORN type status being insured for me by a French friend. I want to put this car back on the road this summer and have it insured for me to drive. Is this a simple case of contacting one of the French insurance companies and insuring it. Also - if at some stage I want to drive back to/from the UK with my French vehicle, will the French insurance company provide me with insurance for this bearing in mind I am a UK citizen? Or perhaps this is something I need to speak to a UK insurance company about? Thanks.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. You will need to speak to French insurance companies individually about this, but I would think there shouldn't be a problem insuring a French registered car that is being mainly kept in France, even if the person insuring it is a UK resident. As long as all the paperwork is up to date. French insurance companies usually allow up to 3 months/90 days cover if the car is driven outside France. You could try GIE Generali Agences, which is an agency which specialises in providing French car insurance to English speakers (http://www.insurance.fr/).

44. A question about driving a RHD car in France (added 27/3/14)...

Moving to France in eighteen months and want to take a new one year old car with us. Do I have to change the vehicle to left hand drive or can I remain right hand drive?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I do not think there should be any problem keeping the car as a right hand drive.

45. Some questions about taking a car back to the UK and no claims bonus's (added 27/3/14)...

Hi - I wondered if you could help me. I have my car insured in France and have had no claims in seven years. I am returning to the UK to live permanently. I may take this car with me. Will the insurance cover me in the UK? Or I may sell the car here and buy another in the UK, either way when I change my insurance will I lose my no claims in the UK? I had a no claims bonus in the UK before I left seven years ago. Hope all this makes sense. Many thanks.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I would think there should be a way of keeping your no-claims when you return to the UK, but I would suggest you contact your current insurers about this. If you are going to be living in the UK permanently, you will need to eventually take out UK insurance. (Though if you take your current car with you, you should be able to have cover for a short time in the UK, usually about 90 days. Once again, this you need to check with your current insurers.) Sorry not to be of more help.

46. A question about temporary car insurance in France (added 7/5/14)...

My daughter has been offered a job in France and wishes to take a UK registered car with her. At the moment this car is registered in my name but I am prepared to put this in her name. I am finding it difficult to obtain insurance cover once I mention that she is working in France. She is prepared to accept three months cover or six months just to get started and get more if she needs it over there, do you have any sugggestions? All companies contacted so far are only prepared to offer holiday insurance for three months.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I'm afraid I don't know what to suggest, as this three month ruling seems to be the norm, though you could look at getting French car insurance. Perhaps she/you could take out the three months UK cover, then she could start a new French insurance policy after that. She will of course have to register the car in France (http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/registering-car-france.html), so I guess this would all depend on how long she is going over to work for.

As we mention above in our article, you could also try GIE Generali Agences, which is an agency which specialises in providing French car insurance to UK ex-pats and English speakers (http://www.insurance.fr/).

47. A question about tax and insurance when in France for seven months (added 8/9/14)...

I am travelling to France to work for seven months and then will be returning to the UK. I'm not sure what the best way to sort out my insurance/tax. Is it worth me driving over or SORNing my car and redo-ing it all when I come home. Could anyone help with some advice?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. Though I'm afraid I am not sure what the best thing for you to do is. As you might have read from answers to previous questions, UK car insurance is usually given for a maximum of three months in France, so unless you can find a French car insurance company who will insure you, you may have a problem taking your car. In which case what you suggest about SORNing your car may be the best option.

Perhaps you could try GIE Generali Agences, if you haven't already, which is an agency which specialises in providing French car insurance to UK ex-pats and English speakers (http://www.insurance.fr/). They may be able to help or advise what the best thing to do is.

Should anyone reading this be able to offer a solution to this common problem, please do get in touch.

*** UPDATE - SEE NO. 11 IN THE "YOUR COMMENTS" SECTION BELOW ***

48. Questions about a claim being rejected (added 10/3/15)...

Good afternoon. I have a question relating to accident abroad in which I have been involved. Last August I was in France and during my return some car damaged my car when reversing. Using MIB service I have obtained an insurance details - AFA Ltd where I have raised a claim. At the beggining they accept a liability and settled a claim but few days ago, I have been informed that they are not going to rectify this claim as the driver was a valet not a car owner and they would have to recover this money from his company so they decided to reject my claim.

From my point of view it is not my issue and they should rectify this claim and try to obtain money paid from the driver or his company, but I would like to ask you for advice if I'm right and what should I do if I'm wrong. Can AFA Ltd on behalf of Altima refuse to accept resposibility for damages caused by a car insured by them but not driven by the owner? What does French law say in similar cases? Thanks.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. From what you have said, I am a little confused to exactly what has happened. You say a claim was settled, but then you say it wasn't. Also, I am not sure who your insurance is with, and why you haven't claimed through your insurance company. Surely they should be dealing with all of this.

Having said that, I can't see why, if it is known who was driving the other vehicle and their insurance details are also known, a claim can't be made either against them, or against the insurance company covering the car they were driving or against the car owner.

Anyway, I realise this is of little help, so as I am no expert in these matters, I would suggest you contact a legal advisor to see how you can proceed.

Should anyone reading this be able to help, please do get in touch.

An update...

Thanks for your response. I thought is a simple case but it isn't. To clarify, a UK based company who represents a French insurer, accepted my claim at first but refused to deal with it later on as they found that they may not be able to recover the money from the driver (a valet boy who has been asked by car owner to park his car). So the insurers considered themselves not responsible for the claim as the driver was not insured by them as only the car was - weird conclusion but it is fact. No one will deal in this matter on my behalf as the claim sum is below their interest. My insurance company said that for the 3rd party cover there is no option to help me to deal with that.

I have made a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman as from my point of view, if the insurance company has UK representation and UK legislation to the case is applied so there is no point for me who was the driver (legal owner or other person) at the time of incident when car was insured by them.

If you have any contact details for a person who can provide me with legal advice or any help I would be very grateful.

Our reply...

Perhaps you could use our Business Directory, or use the following page on our site:

French Legal Services and Solicitors: http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

Also, you may like to contact Generali/Prevencia, which is an agency which specialises in providing French car insurance to UK ex-pats and English speakers (http://www.insurance.fr/). They are very helpful and quite often able to help with different situations and unusual requests, so may be able to point you in the right direction.

I wish you luck with sorting this out.

49. A question about only having a temporary address (added 23/4/15)...

Hello - I wondered if you could help. I am returning to the UK from living in France and until I buy another house I will be living with family. Can I buy/tax/insure a car using this temporary address? I will have sold my French car by this time. Look forward to your reply and hoping that you can give me some answers.

Our reply...

I would suggest you contact the DVLA about this, as I am unsure if temporary addresses are allowed, or how it would work in your case. There must be a way to do it though. Their details can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/contact-the-dvla

Should anyone reading this be able to offer any advice, please do get in touch.

50. A question about scrapping a car (added 19/5/15)...

We are in a similar situation to Question Number 3 - Scrapping a car in France. We were told we have to get some sort of paperwork from the Police - a Cessation? And that should be sent to the Insurance company. We can't find any more information about this. Would you know anything further? Any information will be helpful as we try to sort this predicament.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. If you haven't already seen the following site, it should give you all the information you need in order to scrap a car:

http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/particuliers/F1468.xhtml

It includes a link to the "Déclaration de cession d'un véhicule (cerfa no. 13574*02)" that needs to be completed. The link can be found here:

http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/particuliers/R20300.xhtml

I hope this helps.

51. How to drive a UK registered car back to the UK legally with no tax or MOT (added 19/5/15)...

Hi - I wonder if anyone can help me. My stepfather has recently passed away and he has left a UK registered car at his (rented) house in south-west france. Its UK tax and MOT have just expired. Is there any way I can legally drive the car back to the UK to sell it? If I insure the car via a UK insurer and book it in for an MOT in Portsmouth can I drive it back? Would it be possible to obtain a CT and insure it from the UK to be legal in France? I have no intention of exporting it to France, I just want to get it back to the UK and it seems silly to have it transported when it is perfectly capable of being driven! I have the v5 and could change it to my name (currently in my mother's name). Many thanks.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I was sorry to hear about your stepfather. And I'm afraid I am not sure what you should do with the car, but perhaps you could contact the DVLA about your situation, and get their advice as to what to do. Their details can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/contact-the-dvla

You could also try contacting Generali/Prevencia (mentioned many times above), which is an agency which specialises in providing French car insurance to UK ex-pats and English speakers (http://www.insurance.fr/). They are very helpful and quite often able to help with different situations and unusual requests, so may be able to point you in the right direction.

Should anyone reading this be able to offer further advice, please do get in touch.

52. A question about insurance for young drivers using telematics (added 4/8/15)...

Hi All - can anybody help me with any information regarding vehicle insurance for young drivers in France using telematics - "black boxes" - which my daughter already uses in the UK. She enjoys the system here as it has greatly improved her driving - it is NOT, nor cannot be used, for us to "keep an eye on her" when she moves to Samur. Allianz offer the Conduite Connectee but that is a "plug-in" unit which is not really suitable. I have spent several hours going through a good proportion of the French insurance company websites but can find nothing. Many thanks in advance.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. Have you tried Prevencia/Generali, which has an agency in Lagraulet du Gers which specialises in providing French car insurance to UK ex-pats and English speakers (http://www.insurance.fr/)?

Should anyone be able to offer any advice about this, please do get in touch.

53. Questions about keeping a car in France (added 29/10/15)...

I am thinking of exporting a car from UK then taking it to France, due to our expected 4 month duration of stay upon French soil. I would like advice on the following:

Re-registration of the vehicle in France
Insurance and Tax
Also the exchange of licence to French Licence ( is it necessary )
Can we insure a UK plate vehicle in France under EU law?

Please note we are in France 4 months of each year. Does French law state other requirements? What documents are needed to complete and where to go for advice? Please can anyone help.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest you read our article "Taking a car to France and registering it in France" (http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/registering-car-france.html), together with the information in the "your questions" and "your comments" sections at the end. You should find some answers there, as well as in this article.

54. Car insurance for a car left in France (added 20/10/16)...

I have left a Citroen C3 in France which will be kept there now as a run about. I intend to keep driving down but it gives us the option of flying or using a train. Form V5 Section 11 has been completed & sent to the DVLA to notify them of permanent export. Insurance & MOT are due 28.10 16 & need sorting out. Currently investigating options with French & English Insurance companies but know if MOT is acceptable for each case. English insurance companies don't insure cars permanently garaged in France, at least I haven't found one yet.

Things are getting tricky as I go to France & have just noted it is illegal not to have a car insured all year when not in use. Can anyone help?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I wonder if you have read our article "Taking a car to France and registering it there" (http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/registering-car-france.html), which may prove useful. As we mention in both articles, you may like to contact a couple of insurance companies. Franck Haloche provides a great service for English speakers - for more details take a look at www.france-insurance.co.uk. You could also try Generali/Prevencia, which is an agency which specialises in providing French car insurance to UK ex-pats and English speakers (http://www.insurance.fr/).

55. A question about insurance for a car in France on UK plates (added 20/10/16)...

I have sold my English house and am about to move permanently to Charente-Maritime. I have an English car, and English plates, but my insurance company say they will not insure me from the moment I do not own my house. French insurers tell me they can start to insure me as soon as I apply to change to French plates. But: WHAT DO I DO IN BETWEEN? I can drive the car to France before I lose my English address, but there will be a delay before I can start applying for French plates, so the car would be marooned, ininsured, in France! What do I do?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. As above, perhaps you could contact a couple of insurance companies who are usually very understanding and helpful, and could go through your options with you. Franck Haloche provides a great service for English speakers - for more details take a look at www.france-insurance.co.uk. You could also try Generali/Prevencia, which is an agency which specialises in providing French car insurance to UK ex-pats and English speakers (http://www.insurance.fr/).

your comments...

1. Graham Smith kindly offers additional up-to-date information (added 15/8/07)...

In order to get your UK car insured in France, assuming you are now resident in France, the following steps should be taken:

1. Obtain the CoC (Certificate of Conformity) for your car by applying to the British manufacturer / importer. I thought the French dealership for my Honda would have helped, but no, I had to apply to England for it. (Honda didn't charge for this.) Since it's valid across Europe, it's probably best to get the CoC before you come to France.

2. Get the "Quitus Fiscale" for your vehicle. For this, take all your car documents to the nearest Centre d'Impots including Registration Certificate, receipt and any other documents you have. Also take your passport(s) and a couple of utility bills for your French address. There's no charge for the QF.

3. If your car is over four years old, it needs a Controle Technique (like an MOT) from a garage advertising this service. Note that British MOT certificates aren't valid in France for the Immatriculation. Even if the car doesn't need a CT, you'd better change the headlights to ones that dip to the right. This will probably be the most expensive part of the business.

4. Armed with the Certificat de Conformite, Quitus Fiscale, plus all the above documents (don't forget the passports), go to your local Prefecture to obtain the Certificat d'Immatriculation. This currently costs 155 Euros.

5. Assuming you are a Brit who is now permanently resident in France, you will also need an International driving licence. Your British driving licence is valid only for driving. The French insurers won't do anything for you if you only have a British licence. To get an International driving licence, as mentioned above, you have to be resident in France for six months before you can apply to change your licence. The form to be filled in is obtainable from the Sous-Prefecture or similar office, and you also need two passport photos, proof of identity (passport) and proof of domicile (EDF or FranceTelecom bill, or better still, a French medical card obtained from a doctor). You should initially get the equivalent of a provisional driving licence, which the insurers will accept.

6. Take all the documents plus your new licence to a French insurer's office and get your car insured.

And a few more things to add:

a) Going to a Sous-Prefecture to get the Immatriculation means a wait of up to two weeks, whereas if you go to the main Prefecture in the department's principal city you will get the certificate immediately.

b) I was also advised that if you're desperate for insurance (e.g. if your UK insurance has run out or is invalid because you don't have a UK address any more) you can apply to the embassy in Paris for a temporary driving permit.

c) Many places advertise insurance (in France) given on your UK registered car, but I have also seen a few people's accounts of their experiences that have shown that such insurance is actually not strictly legal, and worthless! My advice is this, if you are having to wait for the six months till you can get insurance here, keep up your UK road tax and insurance, but tell the insurers that you are temporarily staying with a relative in England, and are on an extended house hunting holiday in France. Give the relative's address to the insurers and your insurance will still be valid. We have done just this, and encountered no problems.

2. A visitor to the site comments on AXA insurance (added 28/7/10)...

I have read some of your comments with regard to French car insurance with interest. I would advise anyone reading this that they should not under any circumstances insure anything with AXA, or do so at their peril.

I have been trying to cancel my AXA car insurance via their agent M. Malchirant in Lodeve for about five years now with no luck, he always manages to find a loophole.

Last year my new insurer (Allianz) personally sent the cancellation notice via recorded delivery as the French law decrees, but for whatever reason AXA refused to accept it and I ended up paying for two insurance policies for the same car, total cost over 900 Euros.

Again this year my new insurer has sent to Malchirant via recorded delivery notice of cancellation, guess what was delivered this morning, correct, another demand for AXA insurance.

My new insurer was horrified that AXA forced me to pay by threatening me with the French equivalent of the bailiffs, and he is in the process of trying to get me reimbursed with last years payment, but I am not holding my breath.

I would also dispute that French car insurance is cheaper, last year my elderly Clio, fully comp, with me having 40 years no claims cost over 500 Euros, a similar cover in the UK would be around £140.

Talking to a number of ex-pats in this area, if any one has trouble with a claim, the name AXA always seems to be in the same sentence, and there seems to be a growing number of cases where AXA is refusing to pay out. I hope it is nothing to do with us being foreigners and not knowing the laws, but it does make you wonder.

Once again I urge your readers not to go anywhere near AXA, apart from anything else, it must be the most expensive company in France.

3. A different experience with AXA insurance (added 6/12/10)...

I would like to give my experience of AXA in Tarn et Garonne (82) which is contradictory to your other comments, though expensive (600+ Euros for three-year old Clio). We have had the misfortune of two accidents in the last twelve years. The first one was a total write off and we had a tussle with the "expert" (individual insurance assessor) but our local AXA agent was very helpful and managed to half the difference between the expert valuation and the replacement value (as stated by L'Argus!). We did not lose our 50% No Claims.

The second accident was not so severe and because it occurred more than three years from the first one, there was no loss of No Claims bonus.

I am sure this is all up to the local agent. You could try the bank for insurance. Their attitude is "we charge everybody the same (ie millionaires and poor alike!)". Their quote against AXA's was 400 Euros. Though have you ever dealt with French banks... paperwork by the bucketful and their maths is not too good! Keep trying, it's all a matter of personal choice.

4. Further advice about car insurance and immatriculation in France (added 4/1/11)...

Hi - regarding your articles on car insurance in France, many people are complaining of the high cost. Admittedly, French car insurance is higher than the UK by probably 30% but the No Claims allowance is generally lower with a maximum of 50% initially. If anyone has problems acquiring good insurance rates it is worth trying the comparison search engine, Assurland which I regularly use. I have good insurance with Amaguiz, a subsidary of Groupama, but be sure to get all your facts correct and do everything via the internet otherwise they are a pain to deal with by telephone and never call you back. They operate solely by the internet and e-mail. I have not had any claims luckily so far so I cannot comment on that aspect. Good luck.

Also I believe Amaguiz will insure a UK registered car whilst it is in the process of immatriculation onto French registration plates. We have immatriculated 2 LHD EEU produced cars and a motorcycle, all without any real problems to date. We are now about to immatriculate a non EEU, Japanese UK grey import 4x4 which may prove "challenging".

5. A visitor to the site comments on scrapping cars in France (added 15/4/11)...

I have to date scrapped around 20+ UK registered cars in France. And not once have I been asked for any sort of paperwork. In fact the chap at our local scrapyard said something very French when I proffered the V5 for my first car. The same is to be found with French cars. We have needed to hand over the Carte Gris but no passports or anything else. Re: the three copies of the paperwork you would normally use to sell a car (one copy to you the seller and two copies for the buyer), they will also keep one copy and the third copy is for the Prefecture. The procedure is as simple as that. And I assure you I barely speak any French at all.

In fact we have now resorted to actually stripping cars ourselves and recycling the plastics etc. in the local dechetterie. The car bodies will be cut up and sold to the scrapyard and the rest we will be taking back to the UK for disposal. Why? If we sell the cars as a whole we will receive around 40-50 Euros per car (without tyres which are hard to dipose of). If we strip the car we get around 80-90 Euros per tonne for the body. We then get for the gearboxes and engines something around £160 to £180 per tonne (more if aluminium on them) and around £130 per tonne for the axles etc. A van will cost us around £250 to the UK and we will take back say 2.5 tonnes at a time. And copper/batteries are also at a much higher price in the UK than France.

So I believe it is easy to scrap your cars in France. Not very profitable, but certainly easy and if anyone wants to have any scrap moved we do it for free! And yes we are registered and do pay taxes. We also cover 53/49/44/35/72/61/14/50 but not everywhere in these departments. But quite regularly we will travel up to 100-125 kilometres, because we get to see the country we now live in as much as anything.

6. Comments about changing car insurance (added 29/5/12)...

You don't switch the insurance like moving the license plate. You have to call your insurance company and cancel the policy of the first car and get a new policy on the new car. Chances are you are going to get a new bill, higher rates, not full credit on the unused portion of the old policy. Anything the insurance company can do to keep some of that money they will! It usually is not a big deal. You need the registration and/or title, bill of sale, mileage and VIN number, etc. Most times you can do it right over the phone and then they would mail you the new insurance card and policy or if there is a local office you just pick it up. Just call your insurance agent!

7. Comments about getting insurance through Schreinemachers (added 6/6/12)...

This thread was very helpful to me. I'm currently in the UK imminently moving to France. I had been going to buy a lhd car with UK plates but given all the advice on this site felt over-awed by the bureaucracy. As a result I, very luckily, found a French-registered car on ebay that was just what I was looking for. I emailed Schreinemachers and had a phone contact back within about 24 hours. All phone conversations and emails were in English and very courteous and helpful. I had to provide scans of the Certificat D'Immatriculation, Controle Technique, driving licence, proof of no claims bonus, a letter from our hosts in France confirming their address and one of their utility bills. I know it sounds a lot but fortunately I had most to hand or was able to get them. Their quotation was better than others I received and they issued me with a temporary cover and carte grise before I had even transferred the premium to them. So now I can use the vehicle here in the UK and I'm all set up for France. I can't fault their service and would thoroughly recommend them.

8. Comments about Schreinemachers (added 30/10/12)...

This company gave me outstanding service. I was trying to get my Uk registered van insured and every broker I spoke to in the UK or France said it was impossible. I spoke to Polly Drew and she immediately took everything in hand and it was all organised in 24 hours. This really saved the day for me. I highly recommend this company.

9. Comments about French residents owning UK registered cars (added 9/4/13)...

Having read much of your advice about UK cars in France I am somewhat concerned that no mention of the law about registering a car here has been made! If, as a French resident, you import a car, you have one month to put it in the system. After a month you are committing an offence. If you have a UK reg car & use it here it must comply fully with UK rules - be taxed, have a UK MOT & Uk insurance. Yiu answer to question 28 is particularly worrying - these people have a car that is now not registered anywhere (it has been declared as exported) so is not entitled to be on the road with the non existant UK number. The French code de la route would interpret this as "fraudulent use" Article L317-3.

Insurance agents seem to be happy to take money even though you yourselves state that you must register your UK car within three months of importing it here! It is illegal for a French resident to own a foreign registered car here, as it is in most countries. Do you not know this?

A reply to the above comments...

Thanks for contacting us. It doesn't seem you have seen the paragraph above headed "Car insurance for French residents". Here we say:

"If you are a permanent resident in France you are bound by French law. French law states that if you are resident in France, insurance on your vehicle is part of your "responsibilité civile". If you are a French resident, to comply fully with French law you must register and insure your vehicles within the French system, which means changing your UK plate to a French plate (Taking a car to France and registering it in France). It is possible to legally drive a UK registered vehicle which is insured with a French insurer, but the time allowed for registration is one month, or up to a maximum of three months in the case where a vehicle needs to be approved via the DRIRE. It will be necessary to go the local Hotel des Impots and ask them for a quittus fiscal certificate. The certificate is free and incorporates your authority to drive your UK vehicle on its foreign plates for a month (or however long agreed by the authorities), whilst you arrange the registration. "

So we certainly have mentioned the laws about registering a car if a French resident, and indeed have a whole article on registering cars in France on our site.

The answer to question 28 refers to a UK resident, keeping a car in France. I take your point about it now not being possibly registered anywhere however. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

10. More comments about AXA (added 27/3/14)...

AXA - steer well clear, car written off "expert" values car at half cost to replace, with some woolly comments about condition, tried to say tyres were no good, until we provided invoice showing they were three months old and had done less than 5000km. Totaly agree about comment re: AXA picking on the Brits, they are happy to take our money, but offer no help when accidents happen. Do not use AXA, now we have our issue all our fFench friends have told us the same.

11. A possible solution for keeping a vehicle in France for more than 90 days (added 2/12/14)...

I too have had problems with insurance in France. I have a UK motorhome left hand drive. I decided to park it on our property in France for a year not insured, just to save some money. Big mistake, as when I decided to register it here in France and get insurance the insurance was not possible. Most never called back, or just said no. One said because you have not insured it for 12 months and have no NCB, it will be very expensive as we will have to insure you as an 18-year old, so there is no point. (I'm 50!)

So I phoned a UK company and nothing was a problem - result! The cost was 165.46 Pounds or just over 200 Euros for the year, with 365 European cover. We do have a home in the UK too. I went through:

Vantage Insurance Services Limited | Juniper House | Warley Hill Business Park | Brentwood | Essex | CM13 3BE.

I think they are a broker and use the camping and caravaning club. The guys are really helpful, they offer fully comprehensive insurance and 365 days cover in all of the EU. We park the motorhome in France and return to the UK by air, which the insurance are fully aware of and are ok about. As I mentioned we have a home in the UK (where the vehicle in registered), so we travel back once a year with the van to keep the it legal, MOT wise but I guess CT would work, but don't quote me on that! With a couple of UK holidays to keep the MOT and tax up to date, the holidays, ferries and MOTs - it all work out cheaper this way than dealing with the French system.

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