Reader question: Do licence-free cars in France require a contrôle technique like normal cars, or are they treated as motorbikes?
Until now, neither non-licence cars (voitures sans permis) - such as the Citroën AMI - nor motorbikes have required a contrôle technique (CT, or roadworthiness test).
France will soon have to comply with EU rules, however, after much legal wrangling and many government U-turns.
The changes will come into force progressively from April next year (2024), and all models of motorbike and non-licence cars that were first registered before January 1, 2017 will have to pass their CT test before 31 December 2024.
The process will continue gradually from there, including:
- Vehicles registered between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2019 - will require a CT by December 31, 2025
- Vehicles registered between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021 - will require a CT by December 31, 2026
From 2027 onwards, the rule will be the following: a CT will be required five years after first registration (within six months of its fifth anniversary) and every three years after that.
This is in contrast to other cars and vehicles, which must have their first CT test four years after the initial registration, and then every two years.
Non-licence cars are legally defined - as per their carte grise (vehicle registration document) - as either light or heavy quadricycles. Vehicles both combustion and electric engines will need to undergo the CT test.
Three-wheeler vehicles will also need a CT.
Contrôle technique points
There will be 78 points on the test for motorbikes, and 133 for a light vehicle.
In the case of a vehicle not passing, the owner will have two months to fix the problems before it must be retested.
The check will include: brakes, steering systems, lights, reflective devices, electrical equipment, axles, wheels, tyres, suspension, and pollutant emissions.
From 2025, mopeds and light non-licence quadricycles will be checked to ensure they are restricted to 45 km/h, and heavy quadricycles to 90 km/h, along with pollution and noise checks.
Not all CT test centres will offer the new tests immediately, as CT mechanics will need to pass a 33-hour training course to qualify. New mechanics will have to undertake a 140-hour course.
How many licence-free cars are there in France?
France is still the most popular market for the non-licence car; of nearly 42,000 sales in 2021, half were in France. These vehicles are limited to 45 km/h, and do not require a licence for anyone born before 1988.
They are popular with people in rural areas, those who cannot get a licence for health reasons, younger people, and those who have had their licence suspended.
There are now a total of 304,768 licence-free cars in France, according to the registration figures provided by AAA Data at the end of October.