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A guide to registering cars in France and getting a carte grise
Once you have finally waded through all the paperwork, signed every sheet of the sale documents and initialled a thousand more pieces of legal paper, you can relax. You have bought your house in France, and you are ready to begin your new life as an ex-pat (Living in France). Before you relax completely, though, have you thought about a car and registering it? Almost everyone needs one these days, and as so many of us move to the French countryside, or at least to small market towns, a car really is as essential as a home. And registering it is must, although it must be said that if you are bringing your car from the UK to France, it is still possible to keep your UK licence and plates (see our article Car Insurance in France), for a short while at least.
And just so you are clear from the outset, what you are trying to obtain by registering your car in France, is a carte grise with a new registration number for your car, which you can then use to go and buy some new French number plates.
Of course you knew that you would need a car and would need to go about registering it. It's just that it paled into insignificance alongside the massive undertaking of buying a house. Registering a car can't be as complicated as that, surely? Well, no it isn't... usually. What you have to remember, in anything you undertake from now on, is that this is France, and things are done differently here. For one thing, where one bit of paper would have sufficed in the UK, in France you will need a minimum of twenty. France is drowning in a sea of paper, and registering your car is another drop in that ocean. As long as you are prepared for this, and make the paper chase in good time, you will manage fine.
Perhaps the first decision that you need to make is whether to keep your UK car, or whether it makes more sense to trade it in and buy a car in France. To a certain extent, of course, this depends on how much available cash you have. If money is no object, then it is probably easier all round to sell your old car in the UK, move to France and buy a brand new car.
If you buy a new French car in France, registering and indeed everything is simple. The dealer will do all the paperwork for you, and issue you with the carte grise or grey card, which is the equivalent of the log book and is the certificate you are given showing your car has been registered. The only point perhaps worth making here is that it is probably wise to do as the French do and to buy a car that is manufactured in France, by one of the main French car companies such Renault, Peugeot or Citroën.
You will quickly notice that a massive percentage of cars on the roads of France are manufactured by these French firms, and it is not just as a result of French national loyalty (although this undoubtedly is a factor!). French cars are simply so much easier to find parts for if they go wrong, and so much easier to find experienced mechanics for too!
The biggest single thing that you need to be aware of here is that second hand cars are expensive in France. A quick glance at the petits annonces or small ads sections of local papers, or a look through a car sales magazine will show you instantly that the second hand market here is much more expensive than in England. It is also more expensive than that of Spain, so one possible solution for those who live in the south of the country is to purchase a car in Spain, and then import it into France. Of course, it then needs to be re-registered for France in the same way as a UK car. (Second hand cars in France, Second hand France.)
If you do buy a second hand car in France, there is a procedure that you will need to go through in order to register it. The vendor should give you all the existing paperwork, including the current carte grise, and a bill of sale. You then have around fifteen days to apply for a new carte grise, as this is not passed from owner to owner but is cancelled and replaced. The easiest way to deal with the paperwork involved here is to present yourself at your Mairie, where they will not only do all the paperwork for you but also tell you exactly what it will cost. Some Mairie staff will even post the application for you! In some cases, it may be necessary to have the car put through the Côntrole Technique (French MOT) again, although the vendor is supposed to do this as a routine part of the sale if the car is old enough to warrant it.
If you decide that you want to bring your car with you to France, the situation becomes a little more complicated. It is currently possible, even if you are a French resident, to keep your UK driving licence and UK plates, for a short time at least, but you will have to change to French plates and a French licence eventually. Your UK driving licence is valid in France until it expires, while you are allowed to keep UK plates for up to six months if you are a non-resident of France, and up to one month for French residents. The time allowed for French residents can be extended up to a maximum of three months should a vehicle need to be approved via the DRIRE. In the past these time limits have not seemed to have been strictly adhered to, but insurance laws are now tightening and this should no longer be the case. Should you be at all uncertain, I would suggest you take current local advice about registering a car, from your Mairie in the first instance, and then from the prefecture or capital town of your department. Speaking to a good local insurance broker is also a good idea. Franck Haloche provides a great service for English speakers who are looking for insurance in France - for more details take a look at www.france-insurance.co.uk.
The time scale we were told when we first came to France of one year is quite different from what we are now being told, although there are still many different reponses given from agents asked to insure British vehicles, even now. And in practice, we have had a UK registered van insured here for six years, having had no problems with insurance cover or when checked by gendarmes etc.
Doing anything in France is an exercise in paperwork, so the first thing you need to know is exactly what paperwork you have to assemble with regard to registering a car. You can obtain a list from the local offices of DRIRE (Direction Régionale de l'Industrie, de la Recherche et de l'Environnement), or perhaps as we did, from our insurers. Others have once more found the Mairie to be extremely helpful as regards this too, but it is of course, dependant on the individuals concerned. The steps described below are subject to regional and temporal differences, but provide a description of a likely sequence of events in the registering of a car in France! (See also point 4 in our "Your Comments" section below.)
This is the easy bit, as you can do this in English. We were told to notify the DVLA that we were permanently exporting our vehicle to France, and obtained from them a certificate of export, or V561. However, it seems that now all you need do is, before handing over the V5C at the Prefecture, tear off the export section from the V5C and send it off to DVLA. Even this is not strictly necessary though as the French authorities are legally obliged to inform DVLA that a vehicle has been registered in their territory within two months of the event which will prompt DVLA to officially record the vehicle as exported. Note that this is the only notification which will, as neither an export certificate nor the tear off from the V5C are proof of anything.
This is a vital part of registering your car in France, and it is the one that seems to give the most problems. Difficulties can arise with unusual vehicles, or cars which had been imported to Britain originally. The Certificate of Conformity is the manufacturers' assurance that the vehicle copies with current relevant legislation. It used to be the case that a manufacturer would supply this without a fee and without a fuss, as long as the car was a recognised model, and had a counterpart in France. Now there is usually a charge of €131 in France. This certificate must be an original document, not a photocopy. If you can, contact the car manufacturer and ask them to send you a Certificate of Conformity while you are still in the UK, as this may then not cost anything, though it does depend on the manufacturer. You may also be able to get it in French. You will need to provide a copy of your car registration document (V5C form) and in some cases a cheque.
Difficulties are likely to arise with older or unusual cars, or ones that do not have an equivalent in France. Older cars may be issued with a Type Approval Certificate, and your dealer should be able to advise on this. Owners of "vehicules de collection" must obtain a certificate of attestation that the vehicle is technically compliant from the FFVE (Fédération française des véhicules d'epoch). And if your car is an import to Britain, and there is no equivalent model in France, you could have your work cut out. I am sure that there is a way to do it, but I would not advise attempting it unless you have bags of time, endless patience, a relentlessly optimistic disposition and are in no hurry at all.
Change the headlights to right hand driving position. This is not cheap, and the temporary stickers that you use when on holiday just will not do. You need to fit blocs optiques, though check your car manual to see if you have switchable lights first. (The lights need to dip in the right direction.) Most good garages will be able to do this for between 400-700 Euros, but make an appointment in advance. They may also be able to find secondhand lights for you if asked.
Now you have the headlights, you can get the Côntrole Technique, which is the French version of the MOT. These are performed at literally hundreds of garages around the towns and villages. If your French is good (Learning French) it doesn't matter which you choose to use, but otherwise, if you know people locally then word of mouth is a good guide as to which garage is likely to be helpful to you as a non French speaking Brit! If your car needs further work you will be given a time limit (it was two weeks when I last had mine done) to correct any problems and re-test. The Côntrole Technique costs aproximately 65 Euros and you will need to take with you to the garage your Certificate of Conformity, proof of address (eg: a utility bill), proof of identity (eg: passport, you may not need it, but it's helpful to take it just in case) and your blue V5C.
Now take all the paperwork you have amassed so far and attend your local Centre des Impots, explaining that you want to import your car. If the car is older than six months and has done more than 3,500 kilometres then you will not need to pay any tax. You will be asked for your current mileage.
The purpose of going to the Centre des Impots with all of this is to obtain a certificate, the Quitas Fiscal, that will show that there is no duty payable on the vehicle. In our case the paperwork required to effect this included the UK Log Book, V561 certificate of export, proof of residence in France (utilities bill etc.), original invoice from the purchase of the vehicle showing the name of the previous owner and the price paid, Côntrole Technique Certificate, and the Certificate of Conformity. We also needed proof of our identity, so we took our passports too. It is also a good idea, as with any bureaucratic exercise in France, to take along around five photocopies of everything, just in case.
Please note though that although this was the situation in our case, I understand that now the only documents you actually need for the Quitus are, V5C, a purchase invoice (not really required if V5C is in your name), proof of identity (passport), Certificate of Conformity and proof of address. Some would also say that when dealing with French bureaucrats it may be best to work on a minimalist basis by initially offering only what documents you know or believe to be necessary and only providing others on specific request. The thinking behind this being the less you give them the less there is for them to argue over!
For new car owners, you may want to read comment no. 24 (found in the "your comments" section at the end of this article) about having to get a Quitas Fiscal.
Finally, weighed down by all your bits of paper, you are now ready to attend the préfecture to make the registration and receive your carte grise. You will need to complete a Demande de Certificat d'Immatriculation (a downloadable form is available at http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/particuliers/R13567.xhtml), pay your fee and then the fun begins. (Regarding the fee, bear in mind that since 2008 there is a tax payable here on first registration of any car with a high CO2 emission, varying from 200 Euros to about 3000 Euros, depending on the emission of the car and the department it is registered in. Cars registered for disabled use do not attract this tax.) You may be lucky, and receive your new registration immediately or at least a provisional registration certificate... (really, there are reports of this occurring - see point 4 in our "Your Comments" section below!) in which case off you go to buy your new plates and consider yourself French! Sadly, however, this can all take a little longer. There are also reports of cases where people have had to return home, carte griseless, and wait with baited breath for some seeks for La Poste to turn up with the much needed and hard won documents.
What you must be prepared to have with you to make this easy on yourself is your Certificate of Conformity, Quitus Fiscal, Contrôle Technique Certificate, proof of identity (eg: passport), proof of address (eg: utility bill or your house purchase Attestation), V5C and finally the Demande de Certificat d'Immatriculation form completed.
Please note that they will keep your V5 together with the Quitus Fiscale and the Certificate of Conformity but will hand you back the exportation slip (section 11) which you must send to the DVLA straight away. (See http://www.carte-grise.org/importation_vehicule_angleterre.htm.)
Now you must change your plates. Garages will be able to do this for you for a small fee, as long as you have with you your carte grise.
All you will need is here is your carte grise (or the provisional form if you haven't yet got your carte grise), Contrôle Technique Certificate and some form of ID (eg: passport). You will need to take these to the garage where you had your Contrôle Technique done and they will alter the registration plate information on your certificate, usually for no fee.
If you have French car insurance you will need to have the number on your insurance certificate changed.
Additional articles which may be of interest:
Second hand cars in France (another first-hand account of trying to register a second hand car)
Car Insurance in France
House Insurance in France
Travelling to France with Pets
** Please note that the above article was updated in October and December 2010 **
** Please also note that Schreinemachers SARL, mentioned in the sections below, is now GIE Generali Agences (http://www.insurance.fr/) - updated in 2013.
Joanna Simm moved to the Languedoc area of south-west France in October 2004 having found her property through French Property Links.
Hello - we have lived in the Creuse for the past two years and we brought our Ford Transit Van and our Escort 1.8 from England with us. Our French household insurance company insured our Transit and issued us with a French window sticker and told us we had three months or twelve months grace to get it changed to French registration. Your webpage on this subject says that, Step 3, was to get a Controle Technique (French MOT). When we took our vehicle to the local Controle Technique Station they told us we could not have a Controle Technique carried out until we had Step 6, the carte grise! We then drove to Gueret to sort out the carte grise and were given a load of papers in French and told that we would need a Controle Technique to be able to get the carte grise. Next week we will phone the Ford dealer in Gueret to see if they will supply us with a Certificate of Conformity.
In another paragraph headed "Time within which you must register cars in France varies", you mention that after three years you still had a UK registered van, still insured with the same agency which is exactly the situation we have. My question on this issue is, do you have a French Controle Technique to replace the UK MOT certificate? Because our UK MOT has expired which is why we took our Transit Van to have the Controle Technique carried out! Any advice you have to offer would be most appreciated on this subject.
And here is a bit more info for you. We drove to Limoges yesterday (in our Ford Escort hatchback which is still on UK tax, insurance and MOT, not our Transit Van), to the main Ford dealer for our area after speaking to them by phone. They looked at our car and for a Certificate of Conformity from them via Ford, Paris, France they want €131.00 but they say we have to first have new European headlights fitted, their price about €450.00 and they say, they can then send the forms they are filling out for the car to Ford Paris to get a Certificate of Conformity for us which they will give to us when we pay them €131.00. In other words the Certificate of Conformity from the Ford agent is not free of charge any more. They tell us that once we have paid and received the Certificate of Conformity they can then carry out a Controle Technique which is €89.00, and that we can then take these and all of our other documents to Gueret, Prefecture to get a carte grise which they think will be about €130.00 or so. We hope we can then get a new French registration number - which we hope simply means buying a set of French number plates! The Ford dealer says the Certificate of Conformity could take anything up to four weeks but of course we don't know the timing on the remainder of the process.
When we got back to Bourganeuf we went to our French household insurance agent (with whom we took out French insurance for the Transit van two years ago), and took out French insurance cover for the Escort. They supplied us with the Certificate d' Assurance to stick on the windscreen, so now there is another UK registered car in France with UK number plates and French windowsticker, with a soon to expire MOT.
So, you can certainly see that there are varying opinions on how to go about it all!
I have now heard back from my colleague about these confusing issues, after she has discussed this with her husband, who is the one who mainly deals with such things! She says:
"I think this is going to be one of those things where everyone you meet has a different story... there are so many things like that in France!!! We have been variously told that:
a) You cannot get insurance at all for a UK plated vehicle.
b) You can insure it for a year and no more (then we continued to insure ours for three years).
c) You can insure it for as long as you want with UK plates, no problem (we are currently doing so).
d) It is no longer necessary to change the plates as it is an EU country.
Where is the truth? The article was written with information I was given at the time, personal experiences only prove how very differently things can turn out. I learn as I live... this is life here! So these are our experiences, right or wrong:
a) It is a fact that you need the Controle Technique BEFORE the carte grise... to say otherwise is wrong.
b) We do have a French Controle Technique to replace the UK MOT.
c) Our insurers have now insisted we French plate (after, perhaps, the accident my husband recently claimed for!!)... but still three and a half years on.
d) The headlights... outrageously expensive says my husband. Try to buy them in the UK or try Ebay. We have bought car parts from there before... prices much lower... we paid GBP 40.00 each for Transit ones ...NEW! Or try a scrap yard in France.
e) The 131 Euro charge for a Certificate of Conformity is apparently now a normal price, depending on various circumstances and if they like the look of you or not sort of criteria... as ever in rural France! Sorry if the article was incorrect initially, but it was the information I was given at the time. I still think there are some cases where you can get one free.
f) The carte grise price depends on value and age of car and also CO2 levels and power.
So this is the best of my knowledge at this time. BON CHANCE!"
I wonder if you can help me at all. I have read your very informative article and am now dreading the procedure. However, we have heard (probably Chinese whispers!) that you no longer need a Certificate of Conformity for your car?? Also, that you can keep your UK plate, just having the spacing altered and an "F" on the plate instead of "GB". This would be a lot of help to us, as we have personal plates which we would like to keep.
According to French News (Nov. 07) you are able to keep your own number, but they then weren't sure in March 08!!
Thank you very much in advance for any help you are able to give.
Thanks for contacting us. I have been in contact with my colleague, Joanna, in France who is not aware of these changes, but is looking into things to see if she can find anything out.
In the meantime, what I understand is that the French system of number plates will be changing from 2009, for French plates, but I am not sure how this will affect personal/private UK number plates, or even if you will be able to keep them, once you have registered your car in France. And as far as I'm aware, the Certificate of Conformity still exists.
The best thing to do at this stage is to probably contact your local DRIRE (Direction Régionale de l'Industrie, de la Recherche et de l'Environnement) office, or indeed your Mairie who might be able to confirm things. Failing that the DVLA in the UK might be able to point you in the right direction (http://www.dvla.gov.uk/).
A comment from a more recent visitor to the site (added 11/10/10)...
If you have a UK personal plate then if you do not put it on retention whilst the vehicle's Tax and MOT are still current, or SORN the vehicle immediately on Tax expiry, you will lose it. SORN of course is not an option for an exported vehicle.
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.
There is plenty of advice re: importing used cars into France but what is the process if the car is under 6 months old and less than 6000 km. Assume full TVA at 20% on purchase price, plus green tax on co2 emmissions, EU COC etc but are there any other charges like an equalisation tax between French prices and prices in the country of purchase.
Thanks for contacting us. My colleague in France offers the following information:
"Assuming the TVA or VAT has been paid in England and you have a certificate to show that, there can be no more TVA payable... the tax treaty sorts that out.
There is no specific green tax, though when you register a car (new or second hand) in France, as a change of ownership you have to buy a new carte grise. You get the papers from the Mairie for this and you pay according to the age of the car and its CO2 emissions. You have to do this anyway, whether or not it is an import or French.
And there can be no levelling up of prices, the price of the car is what you pay when you buy it no matter where it is... it is just the cost of the carte grise that varies.
Hi, after reading the laws and rules on driving a non-French registered car in France, where do we stand regarding our car please? We live in Portugal and have re-registered and paid importation taxes on a r/h drive Ford, so now have Portuguese plates. We are hoping to move to France in the next year and would like to bring our car with us. The MOT is called ITV here and we' d like to know the legalities of whether it is necessary to re-register yet again in France?? The car conforms to continental standards re, lights ect. It was a very costly business having to import the car as we couldn't prove we had had it in Portugal less than six months. It cost over 8,500 Euros in total and if we had to do that all over again it hardly warrants re-registering again in France! Mind you, Portugal is one of the most expensive places to have a car anyway!!!! Can you enlighten us as to whether the above would apply please? We are finding your site very interesting reading, thankyou!
Thanks for contacting us. I'm afraid though, I have no knowledge of taking a car from Portugal to France, though don't see why it wouldn't be the same as bringing one from the UK. I would suggest, as in our article, that the best thing to do is probably to take current local advice from your Mairie in the first instance, and then from the prefecture or capital town of your department. (Of course this assumes you know where you are moving to.) Or you could try your local DRIRE (Direction Régionale de l'Industrie, de la Recherche et de l'Environnement) office, failing that the DVLA in the UK might be able to point you in the right direction (http://www.dvla.gov.uk/). And even the French embassy in Portugal or British Embassy in France.
I'm sorry I cannot be of more help.
I read your article about importing a car to France, but cannot find the answer to my situation anywhere. I am wondering what one has to do if you want to have an imported (non-French) used car parked at your vacation home in France for use while there (maybe 3 months of the year), but you are not a French resident. I am American and Dutch (dual citizenship), living in the U.S. My mother is Dutch and also a resident of the USA, and I would like to buy a used car in Holland, drive it to her house in France (where I will be staying for 2 months), and leave it there for all of us to use whenever we are vacationing there in the future. What would we need to do to do this? Do I need to register this car in France if it will be parked there, but only used by non-residents a few months of the year? Can I insure the Dutch car with a Dutch insurer? Can I insure the Dutch car with a French insurer? Can I insure the Dutch car parked in France with an American insurer? You can see my confusion... any advice for this situation would be much appreciated.
Thanks for contacting us. In reading your queries, I would say your easiest option would be to look into the TT scheme we mention in our article on car insurance in France (http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/car-insurance-france.html). This may make things alot easier.
However, if you still want to do as you say, I'm afraid that as we are a UK-based site, I am unsure of the exact procedures that would be involved in your case.
I would guess that as with a UK car, you could leave it with Dutch plates and not register it in France, but you would need insurance for the whole time the car is in France - at least third party. I would think there may well be some Dutch, French and US insurance companies which would insure the car in France, as there are UK companies which do this with UK cars, but I am not familiar with them.
For expert advice, it may be a good idea to take current local advice from the Mairie in the first instance, and then from the prefecture or capital town of the department your mother has a house in. Or you could try her local DRIRE (Direction Régionale de l'Industrie, de la Recherche et de l'Environnement) office, failing that maybe the French Embassy in Holland or Dutch or US Embassy in France.
I'm sorry I cannot be of more help.
Hello - would you have any more information on this subject? I work for a relocation company in Switzerland and we have several clients settling in nearby France - and we are trying to understand how to advise them about importing cars from the UK. I thought that they MUST have this certificate. On the blog I noticed a comment update added 3/08/09 and wondered if you have any more info on this. Thanks.
Thanks for contacting us. I'm afraid I have no further information about the Certificate de Conformité, other that what we have posted on the site. Indeed, other than this visitor's comments, we are also under the impression that you do need one, but they have found this not to be the case. I think in France, as with many things, it does depend on who you speak to or who you apply to (as the visitor mentions)!
I can only advise that the best thing for people to do is to probably contact their local DRIRE (Direction Régionale de l'Industrie, de la Recherche et de l'Environnement) office, or indeed their Mairie who might be able to confirm things. Failing that the DVLA in the UK might be able to point them in the right direction (http://www.dvla.gov.uk/).
Thanks for answering! I thought I would let you know what I learned from calling our DRIRE in Rhone Alpes... which has actually merged with something and is DREAL now. Anyway, I posed this question based on that comment and he told me that it is not true: you do need this certificate. The information which is sometimes on Titles gives only half the story. There is still another piece of information which this certificate gives and the car registration documents never include. Of course, that is just one agency and one person... as you know, one never knows in France! Thanks again.
Hello, I need to obtain a Certificate of Conformity for my mgf 2001 model which I can get from MGRCC Service in England (they hold all the records of The Rover MG group after the collapse of the Company). However, can you advise if the C of C would be acceptable in English?? Or does it have to be in French?
Thanks for contacting us. Personally I don't think that there is any problem with an EU Certificate of Conformity being written in English instead of French, as it is coming from a UK manufacturer or company. (I understand this document will mainly be full of technical details anyway, rather than words, which should show that your car complies with European Standards.)
Though as I mention above, as I am not an expert in these matters, it may be worth contacting your local DRIRE (Direction Régionale de l'Industrie, de la Recherche et de l'Environnement) office, or indeed your Mairie who might be able to confirm this. Failing that the DVLA in the UK might also be able to help (http://www.dvla.gov.uk/).
I have a 1966 MGB kit car made in the UK then imported into Gibraltar. Now I need to put it on French plates. My insurance company Mutuelle Poitiers cannot find the make/type in their computer so are unable to do anything for me. Any ideas, please? (Car in on Gib plates.)
Thanks for contacting us. I wonder if you've tried MGR C&C Services in the UK (who hold records of the Rover/MG group after the collapse of the company), although I am not sure how it works with kit cars. Their website is:
and if they cannot help, they may be able to point you in the right direction.
Can anybody help me with trying to find a free Certificate of Conformity as I am rather unlucky as the type approval number does not appear on my UK Reg Certificate V5. My car is French after all and is a Peugeot 1998 first registered, 5-door Hatchback. Model Type 306 LX DT. Thank you an impoverished priest/pensioner!
Thanks for contacting us. My colleage Joanna in France says:
"Probably best to go to see a local Peugot dealer, but not sure if anything is free in France! They love their bits of paper, and usually charge for them."
I am sorry not to be of more help, though should anyone else get in touch with further ideas, I will let you know. You could I suppose also try Peugeot UK?
Hi, I want to send a car to my brother from USA to France. I need to know about duty and paper work and duty cost, car price is $75000.00. Thanks for helping.
Thanks for contacing us. However, I'm afraid that as we are a UK-based site, I am unsure of the exact procedures that would be involved in your case.
I would suggest you contact the French Embassy in the USA or the US Embassy in France for the rules, regulations and costs involved. It may also be a good idea to take current local advice from the Mairie where your brother lives or you could try his local DRIRE (Direction Régionale de l'Industrie, de la Recherche et de l'Environnement) office.
Hi - I read your forum on registering a UK vehicle here in France, and I wonder if anyone can shed light on this following dilemma? I have a UK van which I recently bought (in the UK). I have it insured here and there is UK tax but no MOT now as it's just run out. I'm needing to go back to the UK soon as I'm a Man and Van service (registered here in France), but obviously have no MOT, and the tax will also run out at the end of October. The complex registering process here will take some weeks, so what can I do, bearing in mind I have to make a living? Is there any temporary paper that I can obtain so that at least I can drive without fear of getting pulled and fined etc?
Thanks for contacting us. I see your dilemma and suggest you contact the agents we mention in our article on car insurance, who may be able to help or at maybe point you in the right direction:
Claire Martinet or Frank Haloche
37 Rue Amiral Courbet
Tel: 02 43 05 21 82
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.
Alternatively you could try the DVLA for advice.
My wife and I have just registered our UK Land Rover Freelander 2 in France. We have owned our car from new. It is approaching three years old and we had the original receipt showing the amount of VAT paid. The information on your website was very helpful and we went through the procedure without any problem, until we had to pay for the carte grise. We were then told that the fee was 1550 Euros, and this was a huge shock. We paid and queried it later and were told that since 2008 all "first issue carte grise" attract this tax. Nothing I have seen on the internet suggests this is the case, but the lady at the Prefecture was adamant that this is the case and that the stuff we had read was out of date. I'm currently very confused.
Thanks for contacting us. I was not aware of specific costs of obtaining a carte grise, as this does vary according to the age of the car, its power and its CO2 emissions, and quite often which department of France you are in. I don't believe we mention the cost on our site. But I understand that since January 2008 there has been a tax imposed on first registration of high emission vehicles, varying from 200 Euros to 2,600 Euros, so I would think this is what you have been charged.
I have now included a specific mention of this in our article.
I just thought I'd follow up my email of yesterday about our experience of obtaining a carte grise for our Land Rover. We eventually discovered that all the Departments are free to set their own price for the first registration of a vehicle, which is now based on CO2 emissions. They can revue this price annually and it varies a little from department to department. Small low polluters would only be a few hundred Euros, our Freelander 2 comes in at about 1550 Euros and a Range Rover about 3000 and so on. No one we have spoken to has heard of this so its worth people knowing before they find out like we did at the point of payment.
I may want to import a used car from the USA to replace the French car I have now. I'm a non-resident who owns a vacation home and thus would keep the car in my garage. I only spend three months a year in France and the rest of the year in the USA. One website says you don't need to register the car if you are a non-resident. Thus, what, if anything am I exempted from that a foreign resident wouldn't be?
Thanks for contacting us. I understand you may be ok not registering the car in France for up to six months being a non-resident of France, but I am pretty sure you will then have to go about registering it. Certainly you will have to keep it insured, if only with third-party insurance.
However, I would suggest you contact the following agents who are mentioned many times in our articles on car insurance and registering cars in France, who should be able to give you expert advice:
Claire Martinet or Frank Haloche
37 Rue Amiral Courbet
Tel: 02 43 05 21 82
I tried to search everywhere, but I'd like to know how much it costs for French temporary license plates? I bought a new car from France and if I register it in France, I need a Carte Grise, which is 552 Euros. But as I want to take it and register it in my country, I need temporary licence plates. I heard these are cheaper than a Carte Grise.
Thanks for contacting us. Perhaps you could contact your local DRIRE (Direction Régionale de l'Industrie, de la Recherche et de l'Environnement) office or your Mairie, for advice on temporary licence plates?
We have just registered our four-year old VW Polo to keep at our holiday home in Dordogne - we were meticulous in our preparation and we had our temporary carte grise and new plates in a day and a half. However we are now slightly alarmed as a friend has drawn our attention to the europa.eu website which states that you cannot register a car in a European country unless it is your permanent country of residence. Can anyone tell me if this is correct?
Thanks for contacting us. I cannot actually find where it says this on the europa.eu website, but I have been in touch with my colleague Joanna in France, and both of us are unaware of this being the case.
I understand that non residents of France can own and insure French registered cars in France, though such a car may not then be taken back to where that person is a resident and driven there, unless the laws of that country are adhered to.
As a UK resident with a house in France, I want to keep a UK registered car in France and insure it. I have a Certificate of Conformity and am in the process of immatriculation onto French registration plates. My question is this; is there any legal issue in being a UK resident and driving a French registered car?
Thanks for contacting us. I do not think that being a UK resident should be a problem with owning and driving a car in France that is French registered and insured, as long as the car stays in France. Bringing it back to the UK may cause problems, as it will need taxing and insuring as per UK rules.
Hi, my car is on French plates but it is currently in the UK. The Control Technique has expired. Presumably I will have to get it brought back to France on a trailer (I'm assuming an MOT will not be sufficient). Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Thanks for contacting us. I have asked my colleague who says that if you book the car in for a CT in France, you are allowed to travel to it, so you would probably be OK. If you are stopped you can say you are booked in and on the way to get it done.
I have a car which is three years old which was exported from UK with no UK VAT paid. It has UK plates for now but I want to register it in France. Will they make me pay TVA and how will it be calculated for a three-year old car?
Thanks for contacting us. However I'm afraid I do not know the answer to your questions, so if anyone else can help, please do contact us.
Have you tried contacting your local office of DRIRE (Direction Régionale de l'Industrie, de la Recherche et de l'Environnement) or the Mairie even? They might be able to help.
We are moving (back) to France in a month, and we haven't yet decided whether to sell our UK car, or import it into France. If we decide to register it in France, we are not clear about how quickly we must do it. The European Union (http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/vehicles/registration/taxes/index_en.htm) says six months:
"If you move to another EU country and take your car with you, you will need to register it and pay any relevant taxes in the new country. You must register your car within six months. Before leaving, you should check with the authorities of your new country when the 6-month period starts - from the moment you leave your home country or from the moment you arrive in your new country. You should also ask what documents will be requested as evidence."
However, in your article above you say differently. Presumably your one-month/three-month limit comes from French law. But surely EU law takes precedence? Any clarification appreciated.
Thanks for contacting us. I have been in touch with my colleague Joanna who says:
"One would expect EU law to prevail, but the French are always tying to do things their way, battling the EU! The last I knew about this was that you had six months to change a registration to a French one, if you are a non-resident."
Which seems to agree with the EU law. If you are a resident of France, I see it differs. Perhaps you could try asking the following, who may be able to help:
Claire Martinet or Frank Haloche
Tel: 02 43 05 21 82
You could also try 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). They are very helpful and quite often able to help with different situations and unusual requests. They may be able to clarify this for you.
Alternatively, as our article says, you could take current local advice about registering a car from your Mairie, the prefecture or capital town of your department, or DRIRE (Direction Régionale de l'Industrie, de la Recherche et de l'Environnement).
Thanks for your reply. On further research, I've found out that our car would potentially attract a 1,600 Euros eco-tax if we imported it. So that's 1,600 Euros + (say) 500 Euros for the headlights, plus the other admin fees! And all for a car with 100,000 miles on the clock that isn't adapted for driving on the right side of the road anyway. I think that's made our decision for us.
We live near Dinan and are in the process of registering our car. Where can I find out how much emissions tax we have to pay? I have been told for our area if it is less than 200 k/km then we don't pay anything. Another issue, we have received the Certificate of Conformity from Renault UK but it doesn't show the Fiscal Puissance code number on it required to determine how much the registration fee is.
Thanks for contacting us. I would contact your Mairie to see if they can help you. Or you could try 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). They are very helpful and quite often able to help with different situations and unusual requests. They may be able to point you in the right direction.
Comment No 7 contains the following paragraph. "Council Directive 83/182/EEC of 28 March 1983 touches on the matter, if you can restrain the excitement of reading long enough to pick out the relevant bits, but goes on to say that a EU citizen should register his car in his country of residence. A later directive mentions that second home owners may register the car accompanying the second home in that home's country, but the whole thing seems very confused."
I'd like to know which directive mentions second home owners being able to register a car accompanying the second home ih that home's country. Can you, or anybody, help?
Further to my question above, I have tracked it down now. For your future information it is proposal 51998PC0030 which, as stated within the document, has been adopted by the EU Commission. The section relevant to cars with second homes is in Article 9.
This is the page:
Hi - I currently own and drive a UK registered Citroen c5. Tax and MOT run out end of Jan 2013. Working in France until April. What should I do? Register in France, scrap it or chance it back to UK in April and face the music? I have UK insurance until November 2014. Please help.
Thanks for contacting us. I have been trying to find out about this from a colleague, but have had no luck. Personally I would have thought that it would be worth extending the UK tax and MOT, for such a short period of time. Registering it in France does not seem worth it, and certainly I would not advise running a car illegally, without the MOT or tax. (And I would have thought without this your insurance will be invalid.)
Regarding scrapping the car, perhaps our article "Car Insurance in France" may influence your decision. (See the "Your Questions" section Question No. 3, and the "Your Comments" section Comment No. 5.)
You could also ask try asking Schreinemachers for advice. 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. They may be able to point you in the right direction.
My brother has a house in France and wants to register his partner's car in France and leave it there for when they go there on holiday. They are not French residents. Will he have problems registering the car in France when it is still owned and registered in his partner's name in the UK? They have lived together for twenty odd years but never married. He is the owner of the French holiday home. Will he have to buy the car from his partner and have it registered in his name before they can have the car reregistered in France. She owned the vehicle since new but she has no French address she can provide utility bills from.
Thanks for contacting us. I would think your brother may have problems registering a car in France which is not in his name, and that he may have to do as you say. But perhaps you or he could contact Schreinemachers for advice on this. As mentioned previously, 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. They may be able to point you in the right direction, if they can't help directly.
I currently have UK Reg plates and insurance. I'm looking to register my car in France. When I change my plates should I change my UK insurance before or after and when should I get French insurance before or after?
Thanks for contacting us. I think some UK insurance companies will insure a French registered car, so you could check with your current company. You could also contact 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), for their advice.
If a car is bought VAT-free in the UK and registered for disabled use, what is the situation when importing to France, as the Quittus Fiscale will obviously not show VAT? Incidentally, registration of a car for disabled use in France does not attract the CO2 tax.
Thanks for contacting us. Though I'm afraid I am not familiar with what happens when importing such a car. I would suggest you perhaps see if your Prefecture, local DRIRE (Direction Régionale de l'Industrie, de la Recherche et de l'Environnement) office, insurers, or local Centre des Impots can offer advice. Or even your Mairie.
We are UK residents with a French property in the Var. I am considering taking my 2004 UK registered vehicle and leaving it at the property permanently (off the road). We spend approximately 60 days in France (not continuously), travelling back and forth by air. Would I need to change the registration to French plates as a non-French resident? Does the car need a UK MOT once in France if remaining UK registered? UK insurance states 90 days as a maximum, do I assume this needs to be consistent or is it just number of days the car will be driven abroad? Any help to enable me to decide what I need to action would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Thanks for contacting us. Quite a few people have asked similar things, as mentioned above. My understanding is that rules have tightened up considerably over the last few years, so now if a car is being kept in France permanently, then you will find few, if any insurers who will insure it with UK plates, however long you say you will be using it for. But certainly you could ring around and check with your current insurers, or perhaps GIE Generali Agences (http://www.insurance.fr/), formerly Schreinemachers SARL, who we mentioned many times, and who are very helpful. But it might be worth bearing in mind that if you were able to keep it insured and registered in the UK, I do think you would need to keep up your UK MOT, which means you would have to return with the car to the UK to do this. Then UK tax would also have to be paid, when the car is in the UK.
So I would say the easiest option would be to register it and insure it in France, particularly if you are not planning to drive the car in the UK again.
For confirmation of rules and regulations, I would suggest you also check with your Mairie and/or Prefecture.
Thank you for your response, I do seem to be going around in circles with this issue. I do not have a preference of which route to take, just as long as the car is legal. The least bother would also be good but it sounds like either way is a bit of a performance. I do not think we will bring the car back to the UK as it is already nearly ten years old so you are probably right in suggesting to re-register with French plates and insure in France.
However, if we are not driving the car again in the UK, would the French version of MOT to establish that the car is roadworthy be sufficient to gain insurance (assuming we can insure a UK registered car that is permanently in France). We would not therefore need to return the car to the UK to gain an MOT and not need to pay the UK road tax, I assume? The only reason this would be a better solution is if we ever did want to sell the car, the UK market is better for classic models which are right-hand drive and it would complicate the situation if the car has French plates.
I am not planning on actioning this short-term so have time to establish the best solution before next Spring and will check with our Mairie. You would not think as we are all Europeans that this would be so complicated!
I'm did not think a French MOT would be acceptable with UK insurers, but it's always worth checking as I am certainly no expert in these matters.
I have a 1996 Bentley which I am looking to register if France - it is currently on British plates. I have contacted Bentley UK who say in addition to changing the headlights the speedometer also has to be changed to read km/h on the outer scale. It currently has a speedometer with mph on the outside and km/h on the inside. Has anyone else come up against this problem as I have friends who have obtained other cars without having to have this change made?
Thanks for contacting us. I haven't heard of this before, but you could perhaps ask GIE Generali Agences (http://www.insurance.fr/) to see if anyone there has heard of this.
Should anyone reading this be able to help further, please do get in touch.
We are British, currently living in USA, moving back to Europe March 2014. We will retire to France and Spain with no permanent address in the UK although UK resident for tax purposes. We will spend no longer than a total altogether of six months in France, no longer than six months altogether in Spain, with visits back to the UK to visit all our family. We want to take our British registered car with us to France and use it in France and Spain. How long can we keep our British plates? Where do we register the car if this is required? Is it necessary as we will not be spending longer than a couple of months in France before leaving the country to go to UK or Spain. Or we might leave it garaged and not use it for a couple of months. Advice please as all very confusing!
Thanks for contacting us. You are right, this will be a very confusing situation, and I'm afraid I do not know the answer. I do know that in France the rules regarding keeping a car with UK plates there have now tightened up, and a non resident of France usually would have to register it in France within six months. But if you are not keeping it in France permanently, perhaps you can keep it registered and insured in the UK. That is if you can find an insurance company to cover you, as you say you won't be in France for more than 90 days, which is usually the sticking point. If you are then still out of the UK however, in Spain, this may prove to be a problem.
I would suggest you contact some UK insurance companies to find out what you do about this, and perhaps the DVLA in the UK. You could also check with GIE Generali Agences (http://www.insurance.fr/), who are usually very helpful.
Hello and thanks in anticipation for any advice you can give me. Two years ago we bought a little house in the Gers, since then we have flown Edinburgh to Toulouse (winter) and mainly Bordeaux (summer). Each trip, the cost of a hire car for 9 -10 days is more than the flights. As we have a garage we are considering buying our own car. Due to distance, driving back to UK for an annual MOT is impossible so, from all the queries that you have been asked and from other sources - would you agree that the easiest way for us to stay legal without huge "paperwork problems", would be to buy a LHD French registered car in the UK and drive it there. Go to the Mairie and sort out the documentation? Hope you can help!!
Thanks for contacting us. I would say the quick answer to your question is "yes"! Though it seems that nowadays people are re-registering cars in France much more easily, so if you can't find a suitable LHD French registered car in the UK, taking another car over should hopefully not be too much of a problem. Though I would perhaps try and stick to cars that are made in France, like Renault, Peugeot or Citroën.
Thanks for that. We have also heard from a garage in France that one should buy German, as parts are easy to come by and the cars are more reliable! You can't win!
I recently was in a position where my UK insurance ran out before I was able to import my vehicle to France. I insured with AXA France but when my UK road tax ran out I was unable to obtain road tax because the DVLA would not accept/recognize the AXA insurance documents. So although I am insured and have a valid UK MOT, I cannot use my car until it complies with the French CT, and is registered in France.
When I spoke to the DVLA they were not helpful at all and didn't seem to have any idea what hoops we have to jump through here in France! They said I should take out UK insurance.
So, getting together the necessary documents to register the car in France will still take some time as I have to obtain a Certificate of Conformity. Now, this raises another question, does it have to be in English or French? If I am going to pay for it this is important as I do not want to have to buy another version in French. So, I guess the best thing, if I have to buy one is get it in French anyway?
Thanks for contacting us. Some of our visitors to the site seem to have registered their cars in France relatively painlessly, so I hope this will be the case for you. Regarding your Certificate of Conformity, I was under the impression that both English and French versions are usually accepted. This document is mainly full of technical details anyway, rather than words, showing that your car complies with European Standards. However, if a French version is available, it may be worth getting this.
You may also like to read points 12 & 13 in the "your comments" section about Certificates of Conformity.
I live in the Limousin and am contemplating importing a Mazda MX5 from the UK. Can you tell me if this is now fact?
"If you have the new issue RED type V5 registration doc, which is replacing all older BLUE type docs, then the process is easier. If you look on the back of the front page at the specification, you will see a list of letters with info typed beside them. If there is the letter K listed with an entry next to it, this is your Certification of Conformity".
So does having the red V5 mean you don't need a CoC?
Thanks for contacting us. As I understand this may vary, depending on where you take your car to be registered, I would suggest you contact the DVLA in the UK and also your local DRIRE office, to see if this is correct. You could also check with your Mairie.
I am selling my 1970 2 door Rolls-Royce Mulliner Park Ward to a gentleman that lives in France, and he has asked me to see what regulations are involved in importing the car to France. The car is in good condition and has a current MOT Certificate. Can you give me any guidance please?
Thanks for contacting us. Our above article gives quite a lot of information on how to go about taking a car to France and registering it there, so I wonder if your buyer has read this. For additional information specific to your car, I would suggest you contact your car manufacturers directly.
Hi - my UK resident cousin is migrating to US and she told me that I can have her car if I can transfer it under my name. I am a French resident with a French driving licence. Please advise what are my options.
Thanks for contacting us. Much information is given above on how to go about importing a car to France and registering it, but for further advice about your particular situation, I would suggest you take current local advice about registering such car from your Mairie, your local DRIRE office or even from the prefecture of your department. Your cousin could also contact the DVLA in the UK, if she is unsure of how to transfer the car to your name.
Having read all the comments/questions and answers regarding permanently importing a car to France from the UK, I have a problem which I cannot see having been covered previously. Namely, I need to take some cars of mine when we move later this year but I cannot get any Certificates of Conformity as they are only relevant to vehicles made after 1997; mine are from 1989 and 1987 so I am of the understanding that they will only have National Type Approval for the original country they were sold in - is this correct? If so, what information will the French authorities require?
The next problem is that one car was originally made and sold in Germany to a member of the Armed Forces, imported into the UK in the early 1990s where it has been ever since, regularly MOT'd and insured without any problems. So technically I have a car with German National Approval only, even though it is identical to the UK model. Any ideas for that one?
Thanks for contacting us. We say in our article that older cars may be issued with a Type Approval Certificate, so the car manufacturer should be able to advise on this. Owners of "vehicules de collection" must obtain a certificate of attestation that the vehicle is technically compliant from the FFVE (Fédération française des véhicules d'epoch). So this should do for some of your cars. I'm afraid I have no idea about what happens with your car from Germany that was imported to the UK.
But perhaps you could get confirmation and clarification about what you need to do for all your cars by contacting your local DRIRE office, or perhaps your Mairie, or the prefecture of your department. It might be an idea to try them all!
Should anyone reading this be able to offer any advice, please do get in touch.
Hello - this seems to be the most comprehensive French Car Registration site I have seen! Great work! I have a question regarding doing research on older used cars, e.g. when buying cars second hand. Is there a way of finding anything about the history of the car (registration, repairs, etc.)? In the US there's something like Carfax, but I'm not aware whether anything similar can be found in France or if there's a way of finding previous owners based on the VIN. Thanks a lot!
Thanks for contacting us, though I'm afraid I don't know of anything like this in France.
Should anyone reading this be able to offer advice, please do get in touch.
I purchased a 2003 Citroen LHD from a garage in the UK, it was originally imported from France over a year before I purchased it and was fully compliant and UK registered. I took it to France, obtained a CT and insurance also I completed all paperwork and tried to register it for a CG. It was rejected once, as I had not obtained a tax exemption form which I duly obtained and returned the paperwork. It has just been returned again with a request that I get the original CG from the garage I purchased it from. This is not mentioned anywhere above that you need to keep paperwork historically for each country, if I'd have known I would not have purchased this car. What should I do, just tell them "pas possible"? The garage is over 100 miles away from where I live in the UK, they told me they didn't have the CG.
Thanks for contacting us, though I'm afraid I haven't come across this before so am unable to help.
Should anyone reading this be able to offer any advice, please do get in touch.
I am a pensioner (just) and we have only been here for a month. We have now found a property and will move in by 2nd June. My car is British reg and will require an MOT on 23/5/14. Do I have time to get all required by then and can someone help me do this, or do I get a French car to run around in while I deal with the main car? Please help me.
Thanks for contacting us. As you can read from the comments below, it may well be possible to do this in time, though I also think it may depend on where you are in France and who deals with your case. If you need help with this, it may be worth contacting a company that helps people relocating to France with all manner of things, such as Help in France. A list of such companies can be found in our Business Directory, under Property Finding Services.
We are currently in Slovenia and wish to drive to France and register the car there. Apparently the only way we can buy a car here is with temporary Euro plates and we can only drive it in Slovenia for one month. When we arrive in France will we have the usual six months to register it or only one month due to the Euro plates? Thank you kindly in advance.
Thanks for contacting us though I'm afraid I don't know the answer to your question. I would think it should be six months, but you will need to check with the relevant authorities in France. So these are the offices of your préfecture or, more specifically, your DREAL (Direction Régionale de l'Environnement, de l'Aménagement et du Logement) - used to be DRIRE. You could also try your Mairie.
Alan Garratt would like to share his experience of trying to register his kit car:
I have tried to register a kit car (Quantum 2+2 sports car) in France having used it legally for several years on the UK roads... it is absolutely impossible! I sent off - eventually - all eleven documents requested, including a Ministers Approval Certificate - necessary to register in England. The French authorities insist absolutely on a Certificate de Conformite which does not exist for a kit car. Without this certificate, which does not exist, they will not entertain the idea of registering in France... I spent nearly two years, made several trips to the Prefecture, and two visits to DRIRE ( (Direction Régionale de l'Industrie, de la Recherche et de l'Environnement), contacted an internet site for a Govt. Dept in England that reconciles differences in E U Regulations - and have got nowhere!
If it can be done, please let me know. I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible.
I am the events coordinator for The Spartan Owners Club and I have a Frenchman who wants to import a Spartan into France. He is finding it impossible at the moment and I wondered if Alan had had any success I could pass onto him? Although if a Frenchman is struggling.............!!
I've just re-registered my UK Peugeot 306 here in France. Beforehand, I'd read that the reason the Certificate of Conformity was required was to show the Type Approval Number ("numéro de reception" in French). I noticed that this number was already on the UK registration document so when they asked me whether I had the Certificate of Conformity at the sous-préfecture, I asked if it was to get the numéro de reception. She replied yes so I pointed at the Type Approval Number on the registration document. She consulted her boss and it was fine.
So if you've got the Type Approval Number on the registration document, which I believe is the case for all cars since 1998, you shouldn't need the Certificate of Conformity. Obviously, I don't know whether I was lucky on the day as to who I was dealing with, but I did notice on the application form for the immatriculation that a Certificate of Conformity is only listed as a requirement for new cars and not second-hand, so if you can provide the numéro de reception via the UK registration document then I don't think there's a problem and you get to keep your €113 that you'd otherwise have to spend on the certicate.
A visitor to the site offers some welcome news and some helpful tips:
Bringing a UK car to France is so easy and paperwork is minimal. If the car is registered in your name on UK V5 then no importation is required. Yes a headlight change is required, so shop around, buy them via websites and if you cannot do it, either find someone local to fit them or negotiate a price with a garage. Do not use a main dealer.
To get your carte grise you will need: proof of residency (current electricity/telephone bill); Controle Technique (French MOT), UK V5 (logbook); proof of identity (passport) and you will need to fill a form out and then hand all this in to the prefecture's office, who will ask you for some money and give you a carte grise with your French immatriculation number.
Read your UK driving licence and V5 conditions. Both have to show your CURRENT ADDRESS or are invalid. After allowing time for change, usually one month max, now try changing either addresses to your French address. DVLA will not issue these documents to any address outside the UNITED KINGDOM. Therefore, theoretically, if you have lived in France for three months plus, and this is your permanent residence and you do not still have a residence in the UK, which is the address shown on your current driving licence, then you no longer have a valid licence to drive a vehicle, therefore you have no insurance either and you are committing an imprisonable offence. One telephone call to the DVLA will confirm this.
A more recent visitor to the site has the following to say (added 11/10/10)...
Regarding the last paragraph, I quote below an official written DVLA reply received in response to this very issue:
"Drivers who take up residence in another EC/EEA country no longer have to exchange their driving licence, but may continue to drive using their own national licence for as long as it remains valid. It is accepted that drivers who move to another part of the EC/EEA could be holding licences showing an incorrect address. You can complete the back of your licence with your current address. This is permissible under the terms of the EC Directive on Driving Licences."
Reading your piece about registering UK cars in France, it might be of interest to know that two months ago I requested, and received, a Certificate of Conformity for my BMW 320i. There was no charge and it was in French.
BMW Homologation Department
BMW (UK) Limited
We haven't yet made the final move to France but have found your site very useful and very informative, if daunting !
A visitor to the site offers the following information:
It was explained to me that when you become a permanent resident in France, you have twelve months in which to re-register your vehicle. This is so that when you commit a traffic offence you can be traced - and fined.
In this event you will also be required to exchange your UK driving licence for a French one so that points can be deducted. If you do not commit a traffic offence you do not have to exchange your UK driving licence for a French one. However, when you get to 70 and your UK licence expires, you cannot be issued with a new UK one because you do not have a UK address. What's more, once your UK licence has expired you may have to take a driving test to get a French one.
I have also read from the EU website that for permanent stays in an EU country, if you are moving with your car, you will need to register your car and pay any relevant taxes on it there. For temporary stays, if you are staying for less than six months, you do not have to register your car or pay any taxes in that country - it will remain registered in your previous country of residence. If your stay in another EU country is for less than six months, you cannot lend or rent your car to a resident of that country. The car can only be driven by another resident of that country if you are on board. You can, however, lend your car to visiting friends or family.
Having read through your very informative posts and replies, may I add another complication to the already hopelessly jumbled EU driving/registration discussion? We are resident in UK, although the EU Signpost Service has tried to suggest otherwise, since we spend around five months in France most years, and, depending on whether we holiday outside UK for any considerable period, this may be longer than we spend in UK. Our principal residence, family, business (although we're now retired), income and investments are in UK.
Like many French second home owners we have a French registered car. We imported to France a UK car we already owned, and found the re-registration procedure relatively painless, as some of your other posts suggest.
What I am currently arguing with DVLA about, however is whether we can return to UK in that French registered car for short, temporary and occasional visits. This situation is only likely to occur in the event of family or other emergencies, when even flying back is either too slow, due to schedules, or expensive, and an immediate return is required. I have much correspondence with DVLA, some of it contradictory, but the most recent stating that a UK resident may not drive a foreign EU registered car in UK under any circumstances.
I have asked the Police what law such action would break and they have written to say they are unaware of one. Provided the car is correctly insured and controle techniqued, this appears to me to discriminate against the UK citizen, when a non UK resident is allowed to drive his car in UK on foreign plates. Council Directive 83/182/EEC of 28 March 1983 touches on the matter, if you can restrain the excitement of reading long enough to pick out the relevant bits, but goes on to say that a EU citizen should register his car in his country of residence. A later directive mentions that second home owners may register the car accompanying the second home in that home's country, but the whole thing seems very confused.
I have great hopes of sense from my local MP, Nick Clegg, who I have dragged into this. Is anyone able to shed any light on the question of returning to the UK in a French registered car (whilst still a UK resident)?
I can't help feeling that there's far too much unnecessary confusion surrounding this issue. The requirements for importing a second-hand car into France are pretty straightforward. Where complications arise is when the French themselves are confused e.g. your correspondent who was refused a CT because the garage said they had to have a carte grise first, which is rubbish, if they had their V5C.
According to the legislation, you can keep your UK number as it conforms to the new French system of letters-numbers-letters (aa-123-aa) but I'd guess you'd have to be sure to point this out to the official at the prefecture (politely).
Insuring your UK registered car shouldn't be a problem but it seems to depend on the insurers. I insured with GAN without any trouble and was simply told to get a CT within three months (no mention of registration). GAN appear to have offices in most large towns.
I can't answer for other car owners but the entire process will have cost me around 1100 Euros. This is cheaper than buying a new car.
Thank you for the advice. We followed it as closely to the letter as was possible in our particular circumstances, and found it easy, and surprisingly quick, to complete the formalities of changing to French plates. These circumstances may be relevant to other visitors to your site, and so I am listing some of their key points:
a) We have a static caravan in Alpes-Maritimes. We wanted to change a UK-registered Renault to French plates so that we could leave it there all year, because a new Jet2 flight from home to Nice made this option attractive. We pay our electricity and French taxes through the campsite, and so do not have utility bills which demonstrate proof of residence. However, the manager of the campsite wrote a "to whom it may concern" which affirmed our residence on the site, and our payment of bills for French services. That letter was accepted without a murmur by the Centre des Impôts and the sous-préfecture.
b) Renault's website advises writing to its Billancourt HQ for the Certificate of Conformity. Instead, I phoned the Renault UK call centre in Bangor (Co. Down). They gave me a reference number for my enquiry, and told me to take the car's documentation to my local Renault dealer. The dealer had never heard of the certificate, but called Bangor, quoted my reference, and was told to fax the documents. The certificate was mailed to me inside a week and cost nothing. (Thank you, Renault, for great service.)
c) The car did not need Contrôle Technique as it is under four years old. This caused no problems at the tax office and sous-préfecture because the confirmation of age is on the Certificate of Conformity.
d) There was no queue at the Centre des Impôts in Sophia Antipolis. We obtained the Quitus Fiscal in a few minutes with no problems at all.
e) There was a huge queue at the sous-préfecture in Grasse, but it has a ticketing system at reception, so there were no worries about queue-jumping. We had filled in the downloadable immatriculation form before leaving home, but there are blank copies at reception for people who don't have them. We had to wait 45 minutes for our turn at the counter, but just a few minutes to complete the formalities, again with no problems.
f) The clerk issued us with a document which we had to take to the cash desk downstairs. There was virtually no queue there, and we were given our temporary Carte Grise immediately after a credit card payment. The full version of the Carte Grise arrived at the campsite inside four days.
I was dreading the bureaucracy of completing the formalities before we left home, but it turned out to be easy and quick. All office staff were professional and helpful. I am happy to recommend the process to anyone who is dithering between this and the more dodgy (probably illegal) approach of keeping one's own national plates in France, even with French insurance and a Contrôle Technique.
I noted the comments re: the costs of changing headlights from LH dip (UK) to RH dip. In many cases it is possible to modify the headlights particularly if they are of the clear lens type. Furthermore many cars with Xenon dip headlights have a switch at the back so that the dip can be changed. If anyone wants advice about this feel free to contact me at:
Incidentally there is also some kilometreage in having your V5C changed if you fit an E85 BioEthanol kit to your petrol engined car. The DVLA will, upon notification, and having sight of an invoice from a garage showing that the car has a CE approved kit fitted, issue a new V5C showing "Other" in the P3 fuel section. This will be FOC. I do know of a few cases where some Departments have allowed the issue of a free CG because of this.
I have just registered my 16-year old Volvo in France very easily. The first step was the Controle Technique. The car passed with its UK headlights. The only document required was the UK Registration Document. Volvo France charged 140 Euros for the Attestation Certificate and said it was not important that I had UK headlights. Then armed with the Impot Attestation and identity etc visited the Prefecture. It took five minutes to be issued with a temporary Carte Grise and cost 195 Euros. The cost being based on the CV, power of the car. Mine being rated at 9CV. New plates fitted on the way home. Job done.
I have just registered my car (Mini One D) in Angers 49000 and I did not need a Certificate of Conformity. My car is twelve months old so it is worth asking first if you need one or as I did try your luck first. My carte grise arrived the next day by recorded delivery.
Just gone through the process of registering my 2002 UK Rreg Renault Kangoo. As regard to the Certificate of Conformity. If you have the new issue RED type V5 registration doc, which is replacing all older BLUE type docs, then the process is easier. If you look on the back of the front page at the specification, you will see a list of letters with info typed beside them. If there is the letter K listed with an entry next to it, this is your Certification of Conformity. You may have to point it out to the clerk at the prefecture, who will probably check with their supervisor. I think this is the new system for UK. You don't need to pay the DRIRE a visit ( who will charge for the conformity check). If you don't have a new RED V5, I believe you can apply for one on the DVLA website at direct.gov.uk. I think they are trying to replace all the old BLUE type V5's by end of 2012, to conform to new EEC regs.
Keep in mind, there is a serious money making industry surrounding this Certificate of Conformity thing. They will not tell you how to avoid paying the 150 Euros it usually costs for this service. Even the DRIRE charge (about 30 Euros) for this service. The whole system is being revised, so expect confusion. The DVLA should be able to help but don't bank on it. Also download the application forms usually linked to these sites so you can work out what information they are asking for in advance of your application. The French are usually polite and helpfull if you have difficulty with the forms. I registered my car in Tours. There is a tax to pay which is based on age and horse power of your car. In the Centre region it's about 40 Euros per CV. If your car is more than ten years old the tax is halved. My 1.9 diesel is rated at 6CV. There is a small admin charge and cost of postage also. So good luck and remember, this is france!
Of course it is possible to be dual resident, either for tax purposes or in reality. The question then arises as to which country should vehicles be registered in and which country's driving licence rules apply.
I have asked this question of both DVLA and the local prefecture, neither can give a straight answer. However, if the EU rules that say a person cannot drive a vehicle registered in another EU country whilst in their country of residence, then a real dilemma ocurrs. Also, host country driving licence conditions (such as medicals) apply to foreign licences when the holder is a resident.
Eg: a dual resident of both France and the UK. The person continues to drive on their UK licence until 70, BUT whilst resident of France is still subject to driver rules e.g. a regular medical for category E. The person has a vehicle registered in France but can't drive it legally in the UK because when there, they are a UK resident.
C'est la vie en Europe!!!
Cars at the lower end of the price bracket seem to be over priced. For example, a 1999 206 hovers around 2000 Euros. A similar model in the UK is less than half that. I intend to go through the hassle of registering a UK car here and paying for new headlights. I will save a lot.
A tip for British people looking to buy used left hand drive cars for France - do go on the internet for UK dealers in LHD vehicles. At the moment with Brits leaving Spain in droves, there is a glut of Spanish registered LHDs in the UK. As other people have observed on this site, UK used car prices are considerably lower than French prices and there's a good chance that if the vehicle has been owned by a Brit it will actually have been serviced at some point before the first CT due date (4 years from purchase new)!
I picked up a French registered vehicle in the UK before moving to France this year. It had been owned by an Anglo / German couple and came with a good service history and Carte Grise and have just put it through it's first CT prior to getting the Carte Grise re-issued in my name.
Wherever you buy a vehicle, obviously it's important to ensure good provenance in terms of ownership and registration documents. Having said that, I was able to insure my French registered vehicle on-line through Amaguiz simply on the number plate. The insurance (fully comprehensive) is certainly a lot less than insuring a similar vehicle for the equivalent cover in the UK. The only insurance issue was getting my on-line UK insurer to give me proof of no claims against my UK registered vehicle, which they seemed incredibly reluctant to do when they realised I was changing insurers! Once I had the necessary statement it was accepted by Amaguiz.
I have just registered my Land Rover Discovery 3, previous address and car reg in Rep of Ireland. Applied for my Cert of Conformity direct to Land Rover in UK, received that in a couple of days. Changed my headlights in France with the help of a friend, which were purchased in UK from a Land Rover dealer. Went to Controle Technique garage, which are everywhere in France, passed with no problems. Next day arrived at the Sous Prefecture, presented my Irish Log Book, Cert of Conformity, my Controle Technique Cert, two utility bills with my French address, my driving licence (Irish). I was asked for my passport, it was the one thing I had forgotten, but no problems as they accepted my driving licence as proof of identity. The lady behind the counter very kindly filled in form of d'Immatriculation, parts of which I did not fully understand. She then gave me my provisional certificate, told me I would receive my Carte Gris in the post within the next couple of weeks, and passed me over to the cashier's desk. Then I was off to the local supermarket to get my new number plates. Job done.
We moved to France in 2005. We found a major French insurance company (Generali) that would insure our car with UK plates for three months. We got a Certificate of Conformity in the UK and took this with our UK registration document and original VAT invoice for the car to the prefecture in Avignon. We saw three people (that's three queues) but after three hours we had our carte grise. Another hour and we had our number plates. The car was less than four years old and so didn't need a Controle Technique. Eight years later the car has had three successful CT's but has just failed it's fourth because of its headlights. So UK headlights have been OK for eight years and suddenly are not. That's 770 Euros for a car I'm about to trade in for 1000 Euros!! So despite having a relatively painless time for eight years, my advice would be to resist taking a UK car to France if at all possible, for two reasons. Firstly, the way you'll be treated is likely to be unpredictable and inconsistent. Secondly, unless you are prepared to run it forever, you will be driving a car that has virtually no value and getting rid of it will be a major challenge.
Thought I would contact you as so often you hear about the negative aspects of French bureaucracy. We decided to register our UK car here a couple of weeks ago. I obtained a new set of headlights from Ebay and had them fitted and the Controle Technique done on the same day. Total cost 400 Euros including the cost of the lights. We decided today to go down and get the tax document and to visit the prefecture to ask advice and get the forms. I took with me all of the documentation I needed with copies. Within an hour we had done both. We have our temporary Immatriculation document and will receive the permanent one within two weeks. Within three hours we had done our shopping too and were on our way home. The only hiccup was that Leclerc didn't have any 47 number plates so we will have to get them elsewhere. All I need to do now is cancel my UK insurance and arrange the insurance here which should be relatively straightforward. You read so much about how hard paperwork is here but we found it so efficient and are a bit shocked to have got it all done so quickly.
We registered our UK car here in France a month or so ago. It was a condition of our French insurer.
1. Headlights: we didn't change the headlights and passed the Controle Technique though it had been a worry.
2. Apart from the million or so other documents you need to take to the Prefecture don't forget to take a proof of purchase of the vehicle. We didn't know that so were sent away. Of course we had one, but it meant a second trip to the Prefecture. Still, Auxerre is a nice city and we did get a very nice rare beef salad from Leclerc!
3. Money: we asked how much it would cost. A shrug. We had to leave a blank cheque. Beware. Ensure there are sufficient funds to cover whatever they decide to charge.
4. People everywhere were polite and helpful.
Hi - regarding the European Certificate of Conformity. I have checked against an existing carte grise and a UK log book and ascertained that the type approval number and Certificate of Conformity number on the carte grise are exactly the same. The car is a Renault Megane, French, the numbers match and the prefecture has had to agree that the number on the log book is acceptable as the Certificate of Conformity in Europe. I have yet to receive my carte grise but am expecting it any time without paying for a scrappy A4 photocopied sheet of paper representing the European Certificate of Conformity. All European manufactured cars have this on the UK log book post 2005 registrations. Regarding the headlights, EBay Poland is by far the most cost effective. They also drive on the right.
The sub prefecture in Confolens were wrong to refuse my application as the type approval is on my UK log book. All I have to do now is find the legislation regarding the exemption for disabled people to pay the tax imposed, as they feigned ignorance to that bit.
Having successfully received my carte grise today, I thought it would help to share my experiences of obtaining it here in the Rhone Alps. I followed all the usual steps, including obtaining a certificate of conformity directly from BMW UK with no charge. As a UK registered vehicle with a normal V5 the garage who I took the vehicle to for its CT, initially refused to acknowledge that the V5 was the French equivalent of the carte grise. With very patchy French I stood my ground and out of exasperation more than friendly assistance, the French admin lady at the garage made a phone call (to whom I am unsure), and came back to say yes, all is in order! After that, all was relatively ok, except that the French prefecture require your puissance (or number of horses) to be in some bizarre format like C1 or alike. It seems that hp rating or kw output of the engine is not admissible. Otherwise, the moral of the story is to do your research on what is required at good sites like this, before losing it at the local CT garage, which I only just avoided!
Hi everyone - there is something that makes no sense to me at all. And it is costing some people where others are experiencing no cost at all. Why do the French want to see your COC? A Certificate of European Conformity! Well what is that exactly? It says to me that it is a document that states that the vehicle conforms to European standards etc.
Well does a Control Technique (French MOT) not do this? If you can pass a Control Technique then your vehicle complies! Simple stuff so can't we try to do something to simplify this process and remove the COC from this process?
Personally I tried to obtain one for my T4 VW and VW were telling me it was a commercial vehicle and would cost over 500 Euros but my CT guy says it's not a commercial vehicle. Needless to say it's been here in France on UK plates for almost ten years now. If the process was simple, local and inexpensive I would be happy to make one guaranteed trip of 70km to my not so local prefecture and pay for the carte gris etc. However they have to make it difficult and expensive for you.
I have heard that rather than a COC you can use a RTI. Help, they are in Lyon which is even further away, is it true? Will they send me one by post? Do I need to pay a tonne of cash to get one? What info do they need?
So I'm probably going to give up with putting the van on French plates and get my newly acquired A4 into French plates to keep the flicks happy. I see that Audi in the UK want 50 Euros for COC but I don't want to give it to them! Perhaps I will try Audi France - they may give me a COC for free. I see above in the comments that someone got away with simply showing his prefecture his vehicle type on his V5 rather than showing them his COC. This sounds great if it works, but I don't really want to risk driving the 70 odd km to my prefecture and find out they want to see my COC!
I suppose you should give everything in life a chance at least once.
A visit to the prefecture at Auxerre today went smoothly with a minimal wait. Documents handed over: MOT (not Controle Technique), passport, logbook, Cert of Conformity (in English, free from Toyota), Demande de certificat d'immatriculation and proof of French address. We had previously wasted a couple of hours at the Centre D'Impots because we understood we needed a Quitus Fiscale. We didn't because we bought the car new. I think this needs to be stressed as much of the advice I read suggested it was needed.
Although we didn't get a Controle Technique done (an MOT is fine, since 2014, if there is more than 6 months remaining on the MOT), we did get the headlights changed because I find it quite hard to see at night, in the rain, with the UK lights. The discs, stuck on the front to prevent dazzling French drivers, reduce their effectiveness appreciably. The new lights are far brighter and therefore safer. Expensive to swap but well worth doing in my opinion.
The downside to the prefecture at Auxerre is that, as mentioned in an earlier comment, one has to hand over a blank cheque without being told the likely cost. Also, I was not issued with a temporary Carte Grise - I have to wait for that to arrive by post. So, fingers crossed.
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