Reader Question: I recently exchanged my UK driving licence for a French licence. I am trying to hire a car in the UK and the hire company is asking for my French driving licence number, what number is this? Surely it cannot be the one at the bottom, as this is too long.
It is understandable that you may be unsure which of the several numbers that appear on a French licence this is.
In fact what the foreign hire car company most likely wants is the figure that appears at number 5 on the front of the card, known as the numéro du titre (number of the document).
The position of this is standard on EU licences.
Confusingly, another number is sometimes referred to with the similar name numéro de permis (permit number), or also numéro de dossier (file/application number) or Code NEPH.
The latter stands for Numéro d'enregistrement préfectoral harmonisé and it is issued by prefectures and used for various kinds of driving-related admin in France (see more below).
On most French driving licences the Code NEPH consists of 12 figures or (where the licence was originally issued before June 1975) it will consist of a mixture of up to 15 numbers and letters.
Since 2013 it is issued to a driver for life and does not change even if for example you have to retake your test after having your licence cancelled.
It is used, for example for checking how many points you have on your licence or to sign up to a course to regain lost points.
On the newer ‘credit-card’ style licences (issued since 2013) the NEPH number can be found on the top-left side of the back of the licence.
However, for those who have the older pink paper version of the licence (issued before 2013) it can be found next to your photo.
For people learning to drive in France it can also be found on some of the documents involved in the process, including:
Your initial request for a driving licence (the authorities will give you a NEPH number)
Your driving test exam certificate (certificat d’examen au permis de conduire)
The results for your theory test (résultat de l’examen du Code de la route), sent via email
Can people with a French licence hire a car in the UK?
It is possible for people to hire a car in the UK with an EU driving licence, although the exact paperwork needed may differ between rental companies.
Note that normally, International Driving Permits are not required for using an EU-issued licence in the UK, however we would suggest double-checking with the hire company as to its requirements. IDPs provide a translation of your licence and you can order them on the website of ANTS (see more here).
Firms may also have specific rules on acceptable forms of ID document and their validity period before expiry.
So, if you are looking to rent a car in the UK with a French licence, you should ask the hire company in advance what documents are required.