FACT FILE: Buying and selling cars in France
also: Driving in France and Corsica
down this page: Registering
a "Foreign" Car in France |
ownership of a French registerd car
a French registered car to be driven legally on the road,
it will need a
carte grise, insurance and
a vaild contrôle
Carte Grise - Certificat d'immatriculation- When
you own a French (registered) car you are obliged to arrange
for a new
carte grise that registers
the vehicle in your name at your address at the préfecture.
This procedure must be completed within 15 days
of the sale. The price of the carte grise depends on the size
of the engine.
of a new car -The
dealer from whom you bought the car from, should arrange the
issue of a new carte grise.
of a second hand / used car - (Voiture d'occasion) If
you purchase a used car from a dealer, they should issue you
with a carte grise. If you purchased it privately then the
following procedure applies: You must go to the préfecture
or sous-préfecture with the following documents.
carte grise that came with the car (don't purchase one
without this- it could be a stolen vehicle!)
de vente - sales certificate that was given to you by
of your passport.
of address of residency - electricty - phone bill etc
de situation - available from the préfecture, this ensures
that the car has no outstanding legal payments with it.
Technique - A
car over three years old must have a
contrôle technique.This is to check that the card is road
worthy. It must be completed every two years at an authorised
garage. Check that your garage can carry out the contre-visite
(the second visit after essential repairs have been carried
out) is free. When your car passes the contrôle technique
you are given a macaron -
a sticker that is displayed on your windscreen. If you are
planning to sell your car you must have a contrôle
technique completed within 6
months of the sale.
to French registration plates from 2009 - Black on White registration
plates on French cars from 2009.
the 15th April 2009 the département number will no longer
be on the French registration plate. The registration plates
will no longer be black on white at the front and black on
yellow at the rear as in the UK, but black on white on the
front and rear as in Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Switzerland,
Germany, Poland and many other European countries.
They will be made up of
two letters, three numbers and two letters these are separated
by hyphens(e.g. DE-354-FG) and will be allocated to a vehicle
for life unlike presently if the owner moves from département
to département. The new plates do not contain any element
that identifies where the car owner lives. A car owner may
add the official logo of their a French département to the
their new style plate.
hand cars: The new regulations
applied to second hand cars from the 15th June 2009 all second
hand cars will get these new style registrations as well when
la carte gris (registration document) is updated with a new
address or owner.
the insurance4carrental.com guide below
This information should not be relied on for accuracy and
is presented here without the responsibility of jml Property
Service and the website it is being displayed at. ©jml property
A "FOREIGN" CAR IN FRANCE
by Lynne Peacock who moved to France and she and her husband
took their two UK registerd vehicles with them - A Citroen
AX and a Fiat Camper Van. Here is her story taken from her
also have a very nice 2 bedroom rental property in the Midi-Pyrenees
region - see www.jmlvillas.com
imported two vehicles when we moved to France last September:
my trusty 'shopping basket' 1996 Citroen AX, and our elderly
but very cherished camper van in which we have travelled many
Citroen was fairly straightforward, if you forget about the
waiting around for the various bits of paper to come back
from DRIRE and the prefecture. DRIRE very kindly offered to
give me an attestation de conformité, which cars sold before
1997 don't have, but the form I had to fill in, 'demande d'identification
d'une voiture particulaire importée neuve ou usagée', involved
me discovering parts of my car and service manual I never
yes, I know - typical female! But on that day I had had an
altercation with my dear husband (DH), so was determined not
to ask for help and crawled around under the bonnet looking
for a small metal plate that, so my form said, carried vital
information. The cost of the attestation was €67.38 which
seemed quite reasonable - but that was only the start!
the car was over four years old, it needed a controle technique.
But before it could have that I had to replace the headlamps.
This is where the costs began to rise. The local Citroen garage
was very helpful and fitted them the day I wandered in to
ask about a rendezvous. However, the mechanic was concerned
that I seemed to have a missed a service.
mutters from husband about forgetful women, I booked in for
the next day and - as I had read a leaflet while I was waiting
for the headlamps and knew I could have a free pre-controle
technique check - I asked for that to be done at the same
time. After shelling out €224.08 for headlamps and €72.48
for the service, I felt able to go and book the controle technique.
I thoroughly recommend the DEKRA operation at St Cere - charming
chaps and I got a free umbrella! Another €55.50 though!
it was just a case of getting a photocopy of my passport (25
cents) and finding the original bill of sale which, amazingly,
I had kept. Not from any kind of sensible system, so much
as that I used to stuff everything into my desk and hadn't
thrown it away. Thanks to my much more organised DH we had
sent off our VO5 documents to Swansea before leaving the UK
and I therefore had my certificate of permanent export. I
copied it, twice (50 cents) in case it got lost in the post.
having yet another form to fill in just to ask for the re-registering
to be done which I've forgotten the name of (and it duplicated
almost everything on the attestation,), I still needed to
know how much it would cost me to actually register. I rang
the prefecture in Cahors and was told €27.50 for 'un cheval'.
We decided the AX must be 'un cheval'. (Wrong!) The documents
went off with an accuse de reception, €4.50, just to make
sure it got there.
began the saga of the incorrect cheques. First everything
came back, with a note that I should have paid €110 as it
is €27.50 per cheval and my car was four chevaux. I still
have not managed to work out why exactly. Also, the price
was due to go up in February 2005 but no decision had been
made exactly when.
was still January, so I bunged the whole lot off again with
a cheque for €110 and €4.50 for the accuse - and it came back
to say it had gone up to €120!
when my size six went down hard! Off to the prefecture again,
with me feeling that by now I had shares in La Poste, but
finally, on Saturday 26 February 2005, my carte grise arrived.
then followed a quick dash to our local Auto Leclerc for my
new plaques but - dommage - they were out of film and I had
to wait. A week later they were still out. Desperate to parade
my new French number plates, I asked for the nearest garage
who could do them for me and they sent me to another place
€28.50 for three plaques, (we have a remorque), €5 for fitting
them and finally I could blend in with all the other French
traffic on the road.
€588.81 or about £418 and worth every penny.
Citroen garage mechanic had a grumpy sidekick who said I should
drive a French car in France (ie: left-hand drive) but I'm
used to my car and in a world where everything in our lives
is new the comfort of driving the car I know is immeasurable.
on the camper front we are still waiting. It will be four
weeks come next Tuesday. The process so far has been much
the same as for the car but with one major exception.
wrote to Fiat for the attestation as the service des mines
couldn't find our camper on their list - an Eldiss Autoquest
on a Fiat Ducatto chassis. (see how technical I can be when
necessary?). We changed the headlamps with our new best friends
at the Citroen garage who had ordered them for us and passed
the controle technique at St Cere, where we received our second
major difference is that we had to have the camper inspected
by the bureau veritas. The service des mines very helpfully
gave us two addresses but both were a long way off, and one
was even in another department. However, for an increased
fee, the chap would come to us. So that's what we opted for.
very cold morning in January he finally arrived in his van,
having rung me from the other end of the commune as he had
got lost. We stood around nervously as he poked around under
the bonnet and the bunks. His task, we had been told, was
to check out the electrics and gas to make sure they were
safe and serviceable. The gas supply passed muster but he
was unhappy that there was no label on the inside of the gas
locker door saying 'butane'. This, despite there being a large
sign on the OUTSIDE of the same door saying LPG plus a picture
of a gas canister...
fiddled with the wire from the camper battery (as opposed
to the battery for the engine) and insisted we fix an inline
fuse. My DH pointed out the existing fuse tucked into a corner,
but to no avail.
this point I tried to pour a little oil on the situation.
The DH may not speak much French but his face spoke volumes.
Monsieur Veritas and I had a fervent exchange about how important
'la securité' is. The DH relaxed a bit.
inside the camper we were told we must change all the sockets
for French sockets. Luckily I was the only one who heard and
understood the DH's muttered aside that at least the English
sockets were earthed!
came the piece de resistance for our inspector. After entering
and exiting our shower/toilet several times he turned to us
both and heaving a sigh told me 'Problem, Madame, grand problem!'.
waited for him to explain. Our toilet window was apparently
too small to evacuate out of in the case of our fire creating
an 'incendie'. The said fire is to the left of the toilet
door and the door opens to the right, therefore to exit the
shower/toilet you would have to pass in front of the fire
and therefore the conflagration! 'Grand problem'!
all trooped outside and he showed us how we could enlarge
the window. I could see my husband was at this point considering
abandoning the camper to its fate. Enlarging the window would
be quite a job and we also had a ladder across it. Back inside
we all looked at the way the door was hung and our chap suggested
that rehanging the door would satisfy regulations. I asked
if they had changed the regulations re toilet doors in the
EU recently but he replied that it had always been thus. I
knew our camper was old but not that old!
we had our biggest surprise. Filling out his form and asking
us for a cheque, Monsieur Veritas announced that as soon as
we let him know we had made the changes he would forward our
document to us for the prefecture. My husband asked if he
wanted photos to prove we had changed things. Monsieur looked
bemused at the idea and replied that a letter would do.
declined a coffee and wished us good day and drove off, we
assume, to worry some other poor campers.
we set off to the Brico to find the various bits and pieces.
That afternoon my DH changed everything, including the door
(what a nuisance it is now!) and took photos to prove he had
done the work as he is a man who likes to be seen to be doing
things properly. In a couple of weeks the document arrived.
A cool €209.62 worth of proof that the camper is fit for the
so we wait... True to form we've sent it off the requisite
three times and paid the accuse each time. The first return
was because my husband forgot his proof of identity, the second
time because the cheque was wrong (déjà vue!). But at least
as the camper is over 10 years old we only have to pay €110
despite it being a 10 cheval.
weeks and counting. Maybe it will arrive tomorrow. But I'm
not holding my breath...
are advised that the second car was finally imported -jml
Property Services March 2007)
Copyright © Lynne Peacock 2005 - Please note: This article
must not be published on any website without the written consent
of the writer Lynne Peacock
ownership of a French registerd car - August 2013
the early part of the summer I raised a topic on
Riviera Reporter Forum -
I will shortly be having to transfer the ownership a French
registered car that currently has the old style white and
yellow 06 number plates. Can anyone help with advice as to
where to go to do this or can you download forms in line as
well. I presume the car will then have to have new style number
plates. Do you have to go to a specialist garage to have these
fitted. Any help please. Many thanks
great thing about this forum, is that I have always had useful
replies to the issues raised. This time Kathy and Ants replied
"When the new owner registers the car at the prefecture
they take the registration doc to a place that does plates
and they do them. Nothing complicated about it. Was about
30 euros. If it is at Grasse Prefecture the number plate place
is opposite. Done in minutes."
kathy says, the plates can be made and installed almost anywhere,
even in some keymaking places near supermarkets. All they
need is the registration document. As for changing ownership:
If you don't speak French it's probably best to get help from
a friend or neighbour, also if you are doing it on line or
by post. It's pretty straight forward (rare in France) -
all you need at the motor vehicles registration office at
the prefecture are the standard docs:
- the old registration document (commonly called "carte grise")
a "controle technique" (MOT) less that 6 months old
Proof of identity (passport or other) - proof of address called
"Justificatif de domicile" (electricity bill will do)
-statement that there are no outstanding
debts on the car called "certificat de non-gage" or "Certificat
de situation administrative" (available on line
- declaration of sale called "déclaration
de cession" (Formulaire cerfa n°13754*02 available on line
In the case that the transfer of ownership
is made following the death of the previous owner rather than
sale or free donation, you will need a document from the notary
handling the succession stating that you are the legal inheritor
of the vehicle.
Re registration request called "demande de certificat d'immatriculation"
(Formulaire cerfa n°13750*03 available on line )
Payment for the re-registration of an amount that which varies
you are applying by post you can send a cheque. If you are
applying on line you can pay by card. If you are applying
in person you can do either. The amount depends on the fiscal
HP ("Puissance fiscale") of the car and the department number.
can make the calculation on line here :
easier way is just to hire one of those relocation assistance
people to do it for you but they take a fee.
August I went into the Sous Prefecture in Grasse.The car was
being transferred following a death and the appropriate documentation
was therefore brought.Fortunately we had our neice with us
to assist with the language. Process took well over an hour
with booking in at reception, getting a number and waiting
to be called then proceeding downstairs to pay. Registration
document arrived in the post a couple of days later, however
it misses the most important part of the address.
useful shop acroos the road makes up the new style number
plates and quickly fitted for a few Euros.Quite a contrast
to doing the same thing in England whereby you post off everything
to the DVLC in Swansea and not have to physically to go somewhere
other than the post box. If the French introduced a DVLC there
would probably be a lot of people out of work throughout the
country or re employed on other work.
Forum contributor has made the following comment - "You'll
just have to get used to the fact that France is far too bureaucratic
and there are far more public workers than necessary. But
it is (or "was" before Mr Hollande took over) slowly getting
better and in some rare cases is even easier than the UK.
For instance you only have to pass the MOT every 2 years instead
of every ye
like in the UK. There is no road tax in France either so that
is one less bureaucratic hassle."
it good though not having an MOT equivalent every year? A
car could become unroadworthy 9 months after the test. In
theory it can still be driven for a further fifteen. Same
rules apply with the
Republic of Ireland and the National Car Test NCT.
© Philip Suter September 2013
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