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Wednesday 21 September 2022
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Can French residents drive their UK-registered car to France?

We look at the situation in which a British citizen who is a permanent resident in France wants to bring over a British car they own and keep in UK for a short trip to France

Britons moving to France with a car should apply to register it with French plates within a month of the move Pic: CarlsPix / Shutterstock

Reader question: I read your articles about the reader with a French carte de séjour who got a fine for driving a UK-registered car in France. Is it not possible to have a second home in the UK and keep a UK-registered car there and drive that over to France on occasion

Our reader is referring to a previous question we answered, with the headline: Why was I fined for driving UK-registered car as a French resident?

There, we highlighted the fact that if you are a French resident living in France and driving a UK-registered car, you are liable to receive a fine from French customs if travelling between France and the UK. 

This is because being a French resident means your car must be formally registered in France.

Note that Britons moving to France with a car should apply to register it with French plates within a month of the move.

Read more: Why was I fined for driving UK-registered car as a French resident?

Regarding the question of being a French resident with a car that is kept in the UK and bringing that over to France for a short period, again that is not allowed, a spokeswoman for France’s customs’ agency told The Connexion

As a French resident, the reader cannot drive a vehicle registered in the UK in France, she said. 

This is confirmed here, on the site of the Gendarmerie nationale, which states that only people who live outside of France can drive foreign-registered cars in France.

Read more: Brexit: New rules for importing a UK car to France

It is still possible for British tourists to drive their UK-registered cars to France for a holiday. 

However, should our reader risk entering France as a ‘tourist’ in their British car, not showing their carte de séjour and having their passport stamped at the border this could lead to more problems and could land them in more trouble than a simple customs fine. 

Registering a UK-registered car in France

The process of registering a UK-registered car in France is not necessarily straightforward. 

Since Brexit, you have to go through customs and also obtain a certificate of conformity, before applying via the Agence nationale des titres sécurisés (ANTS) website

The process is cheaper if you are bringing the car over as part of a move to France to become a resident. 

There are two potential taxes you may also have to pay: VAT and customs duty. You are exempt from both if you are moving permanently to France, the vehicle is for personal use, and you bring it over within 12 months of your arrival. 

All UK nationals holding a Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA) carte de séjour will have arrived in France well over 12 months ago and so it is too late for them to be eligible for this exemption. 

You can read more about registering a car imported from the UK in our article here: Process, costs, carte grise: How to register a car in France

Mark Stevens of The English Car Mechanics firm in Opio, Alpes-Maritimes, previously told The Connexion that it would be easier for French residents with British-registered cars to sell their vehicle and buy a new one in France. 

“It will save a lot of hassle and potentially a great deal of money. If import duty is included and if customs do not agree with your assessment of the price for VAT and put it up, it could be very expensive.” 

Related articles

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

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

Do UK visitors to France need a new car numberplate?

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