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Newcomers must not put off swap to French driving licence

Reader issues warning to others as he faces sitting French test due to delay

David Young (pictured inset), an Australian retiree from Paris, said he failed to realise the urgency and now has to sit a French driving test Pic: David Young / Monika Wisniewska / Shutterstock

Article published April 29, 2023

A reader has stressed how important it is to swap a foreign driving licence for a French one as soon as possible after moving here as he failed to do so and now has to sit a driving test. 

If your licence is from a non-EU/EEA country and/or is British but was first issued since January 2021, you must apply to swap it within a year. In the case of British licences it is not the 4a issue date of the current card that is key here, but rather the date listed against the car symbol in column 10 ('valid from') on the back.

In the case of a visa valant titre de séjour, the one-year period runs from the point of validating the visa. 

This is all assuming that the issuing state has a swap agreement with France, which is not the case for certain US states, for example. 

David Young (pictured above inset), an Australian retiree from Paris, said he failed to realise the urgency and now has to sit a French driving test. 

For him, delays in obtaining an appointment at the Préfecture de Police de Paris (applications are now done online, at the website of ANTS) added to the problem. 

“By the time I got an appointment, it was beyond 12 months. 

“Then I was told I had to make another appointment as I hadn’t had translations done by a sworn translator. 

Finally, they said ‘you should have done it in the first 12 months’.” 

He added: “I wasted time arguing with the police and sécurité routière, then there was Covid, and here I am in 2023 and I’d really like to be drive out and see more of France.”

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