Reader question: I have just noticed that my UK driving licence expired three days ago. I have been living in France for the last four years and am a French resident with a residency card. Can I renew it from France?
Expired UK driving licences cannot be renewed from France as the UK authorities only allow them to be renewed by those whose main residence is in the UK.
However you can exchange your UK driving licence for a French one, which will also be valid for driving in the UK.
It is best to not wait until the licence has actually expired before renewing it although an advisor at ANTS, the agency that delivers driving licences in France, confirmed that it is still possible to exchange an expired licence.
A recently expired licence will probably not prompt any questions but if it has been expired for a long period you might have to explain why it took you so long to request an exchange.
Note that when we refer to a licence ‘expiring’, there are two relevant dates: the card expiry date on the front, and then the end of your ‘entitlement to drive’ on the back, which on UK licences occurs at the holder’s age 70.
Exchanging a UK driving licence for a French licence
To exchange a foreign driving licence for a French one, you must be a French resident.
The process is free and is now completed online.
The link to the procedure can be found here.
You will need to provide the following documents: ID, proof that you are a French resident such as a titre de séjour (residency permit), proof of residence such as a utility bill, an official photo with a digital signature, a colour photocopy of the expired licence and an official translation of the expired licence.
As you are exchanging a UK driving licence first issued before 2021, you will need to provide an attestation of entitlement to drive from the DVLA from the past three months and an official translation.
This allows the French government to check that your licence has not been suspended or revoked. We have previously been told that a ‘check code’ from DVLA is acceptable (see here for more).
The process may take several months.
While you are waiting for your new licence, you can download an attestation de dépôt sécurisée as proof that you have applied for it. You can use this to drive while waiting for delivery of your new licence.
The Connexion was previously told that if you are over 70 and you have not renewed your UK licence (it expires when you turn 70), you can still exchange it for a French one but you may have to pass a medical if you have any health conditions that impact your ability to drive.
Your new French driving licence will be valid for 15 years.
Read more: Using French and foreign driving licences
Driving in the UK with a French licence
If you visit the UK you will be able to use your French driving licence. There is no requirement to also apply for an international driving permit.
If you were to move back to the UK within two years of your UK driving licence expiring, you will be able to renew it without a problem. If you take longer than two years to renew your UK licence, you may have to retake the driving test.
You will be able to exchange a French driving licence for a UK one should you move permanently back to the UK.
If you are not a UK resident, you cannot renew your UK licence. A driving licence must be issued by your country of residence.
Other foreign licences
If you have an EU driving licence, such as an Irish one, or a UK licence first delivered before 2021, then you only need to exchange your licence when it expires, following the same steps as shown previously (with a few exceptions, such as if you commit a driving offence that would usually involve loss of points from a French licence).
France has signed agreements with many countries that allow for driving licences to be exchangeable in both countries. For these countries, such as Australia, some states of the US, and New Zealand, the process is the same as for UK licences.
Those with a driving licence from a country without an agreement with France, including some US states and Canadian provinces, will need to take a French driving test.
You can check whether you can exchange your foreign licence for a French licence here.