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UK residents CAN legally register a car at their French second home

The question of French plates for non-residents often causes confusion, however senior officials provided a clear response

We talk to the Interior Ministry to get their final word Pic: Daniele Silva / Shutterstock

A Briton living in the UK who has a second home in France can register a car with French plates at the French address if they intend to keep it there, officials have confirmed to The Connexion

The question arises from time to time among the English-speaking community about whether, on the contrary, only people whose habitual main domicile is in France can legally register a car at a French address. 

Official response from the Interior Ministry

We asked the ANTS agency, which processes registration applications, about this, both for a Briton living in the UK buying a car in France or bringing one over from the UK. ANTS passed our question to officials at the Délégation à la Sécurité Routière, an Interior Ministry section responsible for driving and road safety rules. 

Isabelle Griffe, deputy to under-director of protection of road users Zoheir Bouaouiche, said: “Nothing prevents the registration in France of a vehicle of a user who has a residence in France at their disposal, even if it is a secondary residence.” 

Read more: Can I buy a car in France to use when I visit my second home

This was confirmed to us by Mr Bouaouiche, after we queried whether there is anything in the Code de la route or Code civil that is contrary to this. 

Justificatif de domicile issue is not a problem for second-home owners

It is sometimes suggested that, as ANTS asks for a justificatif de domicile (proof of domicile) showing a French address, this poses a problem for second-home owners. However, Mr Bouaouiche said this did not change the position as outlined by Ms Griffe. 

We note that one definition of domicile can be found in the Code civil, article 102, which states: “The domicile of a French person, as to the exercise of their civil rights, is in the place where he or she has their main establishment.” Meanwhile the Code de la route R322- 1, which deals with vehicle registration requirements, refers to either providing proof of domicile or of siège social (a business address), or of établissement d’affectation ou de mise à disposition du véhicule (place the vehicle is attached to or available to be used from). 

Ms Griffe also said that a car registered abroad, to a non-resident user, should only be used in France for a maximum of 12 months before re-registration is required. 

The UK’s DVLA agency asks that where a car is being taken out of the country for more than a year, the user must notify them that it is ‘permanently exported’ prior to registering it abroad. 

Read more: British carte de séjour holder in France fined over UK plated car

A French lawyer with expertise in driving issues, Olivier Descamps of car-avocat.fr, said: “It’s not a problem if you have the vehicle at a second home, or whether you’re British or French, as long as you have access to the vehicle at an address [in France].” 

Potential insurance problems

He said that there will also often be insurance problems if a car on UK plates is kept in France too long. He noted, however, that as the UK has left the EU, car owners will also need a certificat d’homologation – also called certificat de conformité, showing the car meets requirements for use in the EU – from the maker. This will only be required if it is imported, not if it is bought in France. Following Brexit, a car imported from the UK will also require an 846A customs form, showing you have paid any customs duties and VAT. 

Read more: How long can a tourist drive UK registered cars in France for

You must also give proof of identity (eg. passport), a completed form cerfa 13749*04 (see: tinyurl.com/cerfa-form), and proof of address such as deeds, a utility bill dated less than six months ago or a home insurance certificate. 

If buying in France, the seller will usually complete registration formalities. If not, or if the car is imported, the process is now online at the website of ANTS (tinyurl.com/ants-register) if you have a ‘France Connect’ account. This is generally not available to non-residents so you might have to ask another person to do it, clicking pour le compte de (on behalf of). 

You can also pay a professional to help (see tinyurl.com/carte-grise-experts).

Related links

Can French residents drive their UK registered car to France

Do I have to change my car’s licence plate if I move department

Can I get a French contrôle technique on my UK registered car

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