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Will I keep my HGV categories if I swap UK licence for French one?

Keeping the categories should be fairly straightforward, but it may depend on how they were acquired originally

The rules differ about swapping a UK for a French driving licence, depending on when it was first issued Pic: H Athey / Shutterstock

Reader Question: I need to swap my UK licence for a French one. Will I retain my HGV categories?

If you passed a driving test to obtain these ‘C’ and ‘D’ categories on your UK licence, these should be transferred when you exchange it for a French licence. 

You will, however, need to have a medical and submit the 14880*02 form with your application, which you should fill in before visiting the doctor. 

You can complete it online at the following site: tinyurl.com/hgvmedical

This medical must be carried out by a médecin agréé (approved doctor) in your department of residence – a list of approved doctors can be found on the prefecture’s website – and costs €36. 

More complex if passed test before January 1, 1997

The process may be more complicated for people who passed their UK driving test before January 1, 1997, as they will have automatically been given the C1, C1E, D1 and D1E categories (minibuses and vans) without needing to take a specific test. 

Although the legislation changed in 1997, people who already had these categories were allowed to retain these, referred to as ‘grandfather rights’. 

Several people have reported that these grandfather rights are not being transferred when UK licences are exchanged for French ones. 

We have asked the Interior Ministry for clarification on this issue. 

Drivers with an EU licence or a UK licence obtained before 2021 need to exchange it only once it runs out. UK licences acquired after January 1, 2021, and other non-EU licences (from countries with agreements with France on exchange) must be exchanged for a French licence within a year of moving to France. 

You must also exchange if you receive a speeding fine or other driving penalty. 

Driving licences can be exchanged via the ANTS website.

Related links

French man discovers his driving licence was invalid for 32 years

What are the rules on licence-free cars in France

How long can tourists drive UK-registered cars in France for

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