When is medical needed to swap non-EU driving licence for French one?

In some cases you will have to attach a medical certificate to your driving licence application; we explain why this may be and what you should do

25 November 2021

Some people will have to take a medical as part of their swap application Pic: Syda Productions / Shutterstock

By Liv Rowland

Reader question: I need to swap my UK driving licence for a French one. Is a medical examination required?

A medical examination is not a standard requirement for an application to swap a British or other non-EU foreign driving licence for a French driving licence.

The main situation where a medical can be required for a swap is where you have heavy vehicle categories on the licence that you wish to maintain. Other situations include where your foreign licence was ordered to be suspended in France due to a driving offence or if there are medical conditions with implications for your ability to drive.

‘Heavy’ categories refers to the ‘C’ and ‘D’ categories, for towing heavy loads and driving vehicles such as vans, lorries, minibuses and buses etc. If unsure if you have these, check the back of your UK licence to see if it lists any of them.

Having said this, many holders of ordinary UK licences who passed their test some time ago are likely to have such categories and may be unaware of it. 

Notably, if you held an ordinary UK driving licence before June 1990, you will find that you were automatically attributed certain heavy vehicle rights, though prior to this date the UK used a national system of ‘group’ letters to designate entitlements that are not related to the standard EU categories used in France.

The UK standardised the way it designates driving entitlements with EU-wide categories in several phases ending in 2013, and if you have renewed your old (pre-June 1990) licence it will probably have been marked with the current categories C1 (vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes) and C1E (the same vehicles and pulling a trailer weighing over 750kg) and well as D1 and D1E minibus categories.

When applying for a French licence you can, if you do not wish to take a medical, opt to ‘renounce’ such categories. 

You can do this by attaching an attestation sur l’honneur (sworn statement) to this effect, with wording such as ''J’atteste sur honneur que je renounce aux catégories lourdes de mon permis de conduire britannique pour son échange pour un permis français''.

See this government page for more on making a sworn declaration.

If you do wish to maintain these categories, then you will need to attach a medical certificate after seeing a doctor who is accredited in the department where you live (un médecin agrée). This is called form Cerfa No 14880*02 and it asks you to cross boxes relating to the categories for which you are taking the medical exam.

Your prefecture will have a list of suitable doctors, however, this unofficial website provides useful links to lists, depending on where you live. 

When booking, make sure the doctor is still able to provide this service and check if you need to print and fill out the medical form to bring for completion by the doctor. It can be found at this link in a version to complete online and print off; alternatively click the link provided to print off a blank one (exemplaire vierge).

The medical, if you choose to do it, costs a set €36 and is not state-reimbursed.

Another situation in which you have to take a medical is if your foreign licence was officially suspended in France following a serious road traffic offence.

In this case, you have to apply for a French licence and you must take a medical if the suspension is related to a speeding offence or was linked to alcohol or drug use.

Finally, official French sources state that you may need a medical if for example your health situation is such that you may need to be issued with a licence for only a restricted period.

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