Cut-off date set for driving licence exchange

Officials at the centre responsible for the exchange of driving licences in France have clarified which applications from holders of British driving licences will now be processed and which will not.

In view of the imminence of Brexit, and a decision on whether or not it will be a no-deal Brexit, which comes on top of existing delays related to the volume of applications from foreign drivers generally, the CERT de Nantes states it will not now process applications received after December 15, 2018.

However, applications which have started to be processed will be completed. This will only be the case if you have had a request for extra documents or have received an attestation de dépôt.

The clarification comes after Connexion asked for more information following an announcement that dossiers were to be returned

France’s Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau last week said there was be a grace period during which residents of France could continue to drive on a British licence after Brexit. The length of this grace period was not specified.

The CERT centre, based at the Nantes prefecture, states it will also continue to process all British licences for which the licence validity date has expired or was set to expire in 2019 as well as licences which must be exchanged by law due to a driving offence involving a loss of points or licence suspension, requests for replacement due to loss or theft, those related to the renewal of a driving category (eg. HGVs, after a medical check) or because you have obtained the right to a new category.

However voluntary applications to swap to a French licence are now being returned if received by the CERT after mid-December, while awaiting clarifications about post-Brexit procedures. The return letter also allows CERT to explain the situation and pass on a contact email address for drivers to stay informed, a CERT spokeswoman said.

This decision comes in the face of previous announcements from CERT. Connexion was told by CERT in November that all exchange applications would be dealt with as soon as possible. At the end of January CERT said applications received but not dealt with by Brexit day would be taken into account based on whatever is decided between the two states.

The UK government is still advising Britons in the EU to exchange their licences before March 29. 

The CERT spokeswoman added: “The volume of dossiers received and being processed does not allow us to keep these dossiers while waiting. We will keep a record of the dossiers we have sent back, which will allow us, if necessary, to find the initial date when the request was received.”

It remains to be seen if, in the case of a no-deal, a British licence would immediately be treated as an ordinary non-EU one with regard to licence exchange rules or if the expected grace period to exchange the licence would include a temporary continuation of EU rules. In the case of a Brexit deal the rules for exchange would remain the same until the end of 2020.

The usual rules for processing non-EU licences include extra requirements compared to applications from EU licence holders:  the licence must have been issued by a state on a list of countries with which France exchanges licences, you must provide a translation into French that has been legalised if done abroad or by a sworn translator if done in France, a residency card as proof of legal residency in France, and an attestation from the country that issued the licence that your right to drive has not expired with an official translation of the attestation. Sworn translators typically charge about €30-60 per page or document.

The British Embassy told Connexion it is in contact with the French government over the driving licence issue and is advises Britons to check its Living in France Guide pages and social media for any future updates. It also notes that there is also an online form for the Nantes prefecture (Loire-Atlantique) at this link.  

Connexion will also continue to monitor the situation and our articles on this and other Brexit related topics can be found here.

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