Do licence-free cars in France need to pass a roadworthiness test?

Contrôles techniques are being introduced for motorcycles, raising the question of whether voitures sans permis are also concerned

Licence-free vehicles are popular in France
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Reader question: With motorbikes soon needing a contrôle technique roadworthiness test to stay on the road, will I also need to get one for my voiture sans permis?

Currently, a contrôle technique (CT) roadworthiness test only applies to certain vehicles – mainly cars older than four years weighing under 3.5 tonnes.

You are right, however, that rule changes – originally due to come into force by August this year but now delayed – are expected see CTs required for motorbikes and scooters.

Transport Minister Clément Beaune recently stated that these changes “will certainly be in place by the end of the year,” giving time to iron out difficulties in creating the CT rules for the new vehicles to be covered.

These changes are being made to align France’s roadworthiness tests with other European countries.

The rule changes to the CT have been hotly contested – the change is originally part of a 2021 decree from the government that it subsequently cancelled in July 2022, only for that cancellation to be overturned in October 2022 by the Conseil d'État, France’s highest administrative authority.

The relevant EU directive which gave rise to all of this in fact only stated that, with regard to two-wheelers, roadworthiness checks should be obligatory for vehicles of ‘more than 125cc’ raising the question of whether even 125cc scooters, for example, were necessarily concerned.

It did not mention light four-wheeled vehicles of category L6e, which is the European classification for France’s voitures sans permis.

However, the wording of France’s original 2021 decree – that the Conseil d'État has told the government to reimplement – had a wider scope.

Indeed, it included changes for VSPs, too. The exact wording of the 2021 decree states the vehicles affected by the changes are “motorised two or three-wheeled vehicles and motorised quadricycles, category L1e, L2e, L3e, L4e, L5e, L6e and L7e vehicles”.

This includes all two and three-wheelers and all current VSPs available on the French market, as the latter fall under the L6e category – meaning that, in short, yes, these licence-free cars are expected to need to pass a CT.

How do these changes affect VSPs?

The full regulations for CT tests will be announced publicly before they come into force.

While the Transport Minister has not specifically mentioned licence-free cars in recent announcements, this information should contain information on roadworthiness tests for VSPs, including the tests that licence-free cars must pass, alongside the timeline for when the cars must be tested.

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