New website for driving licence swaps

A new driving licence exchange site is to open on March 3; in the meantime no new postal applications are being processed

A new official website is to open on March 3 for drivers to apply to exchange driving licences from EU/EEA states and the UK for French licences (note that the site may no longer apply to UK licences after the Brexit transition period, although this point has not currently been specified).

The Nantes prefecture, which currently processes all foreign licence swaps, told Connexion last year that both obligatory and non-obligatory swaps will be possible via this new government site.

In the meantime the government states that no more exchange applications must be sent in by post and that any received since February 6 are no longer being processed.

Already in March 2019 the CERT centre at Nantes prefecture, which had experienced heavy demand and prolonged delays since it was charged with all foreign licence exchanges in September 2017, said it would return all ‘non-obligatory’ applications for exchange.

Since then it has only been accepting obligatory requests where, for example, the UK licence is about to expire, the holder has committed a driving offence which would involve loss of points from a French licence, the holder has obtained a new licence category etc.

This is despite the fact that in normal circumstances it is a right for holders of EU licences to choose to swap for a French one if they so wish. Prior to 2017 this was completed at local prefectures.

In November 2019 the CERT said that its service had been completely reorganised, with a new team tasked with sorting out the backlog of the oldest dossiers and new applications (for obligatory exchanges) would now to be dealt with in three months at the most.

It said that a new online system would open from April 2020 where people could also make non-obligatory swaps. The date has now been brought forward and announced for March 3.

More information should be available in due course (in French) at this link https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1758

Those driving on British licences should note that nothing is changing this year with regard to driving on a UK licence in France due to the Brexit transition period (usually non-EU countries’ licences have to be swapped within a year of the holder becoming a resident of France whereas EU licences can be used as long as they are still in their validity period).

Last year France passed a law saying that in the event of a no-deal Brexit it would not be necessary to swap a British licence, however it has not yet passed a similar rule for the current scenario with the Withdrawal Agreement deal.

We would anticipate that it will do so to so as to minimise pressure on the CERT.

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