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Car Registration in France

How to re-register your UK car?

Links, France




We moved to the Vendée two years ago and it took only a few weeks from start to finish to re-register our Peugeot 406 estate and to obtain French Licence Plates. The process was relatively straight forward and the total admin cost was about 350€ including the Controle Technique (French MOT).


In France you are allowed to drive on foreign plates as a tourist for just three months. After three months, if you plan to stay in France your vehicle will need to be re-registered. There is no need to sell your UK registered vehicle.


For tax and customs purposes, foreigners are considered to be resident in France if they spend more than 185 days here per year. If you are from a European Union member state and your car is a standard model that conforms to French norms, (those currently on sale in France), re-registration is the least complicated!  

There are no customs formalities if you're bringing your own private vehicle to France from another EU member state. 


Step 1


First contact the Head Office in France for the make of your car, eg. Peugeot Head Office and apply for a "certificat de conformité européenne". This is to prove that your car basically conforms to the French norms. The certificate will normally be issued despite the fact that your car will be right hand drive and the headlights will be pointing in the wrong direction. There is a fee for the certificate of conformity (approx 200€ depending on the make of vehicle). 


Extra admin may be necessary!


Only in some cases, depending on the age of the vehicle, you may need an official document showing the vehicle conforms with French standards and this is obtained from the Direction Régionale de l'Industrie et de la Recherche, the DRIRE. This organisation handles all the technical aspects of re-registration of older vehicles, and a successful application will give you the necessary attestation d'identification du véhicule (vehicle identification certificate).  


The DRIRE inspector checks that the vehicle conforms to the regulations in force either at the time it was brought into circulation or the time it was altered, depending on the case.


Step 2


If your car is more than 4 years old, you will need to get an MOT (Controle Technique). Your car will most likely fail on the headlights pointing in the wrong direction. You will have to buy two French replacement light units. Either take you car to the garage for this, or, alternatively, source two headlight units from a local scrap yard (as we did). The CT is required every two years in France and they do not normally charge you for a retest (as in UK). The approx price of Controle Technique is 50€. 


Even if you car is less that 4 years old, you should change your headlights in order to make your car roadworthy and legal.


Step 3


You will then need to go to your local tax office for a "certificat de régularité fiscale", which shows that you've already paid Value Added Tax (VAT) on the car at home. There is no charge for this and it simply means a trip to the tax office with your registration documents and certificate of conformity.


Step 4


Registration is called "immatriculation", and you'll need to apply to  your local préfecture or sous-préfecture (chief, or sub-regional administration centre) for a "certificat d'immatriculation" to fill in (the forms are usually readily available from any Town Hall (Mairie). 


Finally, send off the completed form to the local préfecture along with the Certificate of European Conformity, the Controle Technique Certificate and the tax office documents, and British registration documents (with fee included) and you will receive, within a few weeks, your French registration document (Carte Grise). 


You can then go to the local plate maker to have your plates made. You will also have to arrange your car insurance which is about the same price as the UK.



Classic Vehicles


Classic vehicles over 25 years old are in a special category and can be re-registered without being taken to the DRIRE. In this case, you need first to put the vehicle through a "contrôle technique" then go to the Fédération Française des Véhicules d'Epoque (French federation of classic cars) where you can obtain a document that enables you to register the vehicle at the préfecture as a "véhicule de collection", or collector's car.



A Controle Technique is not required for motorbikes, unless you are specially authorised to do otherwise, you're only allowed to drive a "véhicule de collection" in the "département" in which it is registered and in adjoining "départements".  






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