If you are looking to sell your car, one popular option is to place a ‘for sale’ sign on one of its windows with the price and your contact information - and wait for potential buyers to make contact.
In some cases, though, this practice is illegal and can, in theory, result in a €750 fine and your car being towed away.
This is due to Article R 644-3 of the French Penal Code, which states that any unauthorised sale or commercial activity in the public domain is prohibited.
Cases of this happening though over car for sale signs are very low, however, and it is unlikely you will receive a fine. Nevertheless we cover the rules below.
You can use the sign in a private space
If your car is parked in a space that you own, such as in your garden or private driveway, it is OK to place a ‘for sale’ sign on the vehicle and you do not need to complete any formalities.
However, if you want to keep the sign showing when the car is in other places (i.e being driving or parked on public roads or communal parking areas) you must make a declaration to do so to your local mairie.
You will need to declare that you are selling your vehicle at least a fortnight before putting the ‘for sale’ sign up in the window.
The mairie should respond with a courrier recommandé avec un avis de réception, or letter with acknowledgement of receipt confirming that you can do so.
If you do not have permission, you could, according to the strict rule, be fined up to €750 (€3,750 if a company) and the vehicle could be towed away.
Further risks of selling privately
Alongside the potential fine for not declaring the car’s availability with your mairie, there are a number of other issues to consider.
A big question for many is whether to sell your car through a company, which takes a proportion of the sale but makes the process easier, or to sell privately, which offers more money but more paperwork.
The latter can also be risky with scammers looking to steal vehicles on test drives or pay with fraudulent cheques or bank cards.
We provide an overview of the steps to selling a second-hand car privately in France in this article here.