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Re-registering and insuring your car in France

You can use an EU-registered vehicle on French roads without needing to change to French numberplates for six months but if you stay longer and you are considered to be living here, you need to re-register the vehicle at the prefecture and get new plaques d’immatriculation.

6 April 2017

You do not need to attend the prefecture in person as companies can act as a professionnel agréé to complete the formalities for you.

You need the following documents:

  • The Certificat de Conformité Européen (available from the manufacturer – get it via the UK sales agent)
  • A completed Demande de Certificat d’Immatriculation – Cerfa 13750*03
  • The original registration documents, plus photocopies
  • The Quitus Fiscal from your local tax office to show tax/VAT has been paid on your vehicle. To get it, you need the original registration document, the purchase document and the Certificat de Conformité Européen, proof of identity and proof of residence.
  • Proof of identity and proof of residence
  • If your vehicle is more than four years old you need a contrôle technique certificate (similar to an MoT) no more than six months old (this does not apply to motorcycles, which do not need a contrôle technique).
  • A blank A4 envelope and a bank card or chequebook to make any payments, which differ in each department

At the prefecture it is likely you will have to pre-register at one booth then take a ticket to queue to get your documents validated. 

Then you can pay for your French Certificat d’immatriculation, also known as a carte grise. You may be given a temporary certificate, and the real thing will be posted to your home within a few days. Take your new carte grise to a garage to get new numberplates made (motorcycles need only one, at the rear).

Numberplates are in the format AA- 123-AA with a blue band on the left for the F country and Euro star symbol, and a band on the right for the regional logo and department number. You can choose any department and region you wish that you ‘feel an affinity with’ and there were reports of people opting for the Corsican ones because other drivers might think they are tough...

There is no road tax in France but vehicles must carry an obligatory green insurance sticker proving that the vehicle is insured.

While on holiday or on short visits to France, you can drive on your UK insurance, if European travel is included. If you stay longer, or become resident, then you must switch to a French policy.

Drivers should carry a standard accident report form, known as a constat amiable d’accident (which is provided by insurance companies – some also have apps for smartphones). In an accident, both parties fill in this form. In a minor collision, you do not need to call the police but you must do so if the road is blocked or there is severe damage.

It is an offence not to help a person in danger – an injured person – but it is just as important to avoid further accidents, so you should first call the police, put on your high-visibility vest, and put up your warning triangle on the road at least 30m from the scene. Only then should you help others if it is safe to do so.

This article is an extract from our 2017 Moving to and Living in France guide. It is available for purchase here.

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