You are moving to France, and you are wondering if you can drive with your foreign driving licence. What are the requirements for driving in France when you relocate? I will detail for you the condition and process to exchange your driving licence when required.

 

 

What is a driving licence exchange?

 

First, exchanging a driving licence means that you need to give the French administration your original driving licence in exchange for a French driving licence that will allow you to drive in France.

 

If you do not live and work in a big city, driving becomes essential. Make sure you check your situation towards the right of driving in France within the first 6 months of your stay to avoid taking the risk of losing this right.

First of all, the right to drive in France is given from 18 years old. If you have a foreign driving licence and you are under the age of 18, you will not have the right to drive.

Then, your right to drive will depend on several criteria.

 

Driving in France
Photo by Spencer Davis

 

You are a European citizen

 

Driving in France requirements with an EEA licence or from the UK (until further notice)

If your driving licence has been delivered by an EU or the European Economic Area (EEA) country, your driving licence is valid in France under certain conditions.
If you are a none-EU/EEA citizen and you took your licence in one of these countries, this situation applies to you too. The important is the origin of the licence itself.

  • Be over the age of 18-year-old to drive a car (driving licence B)
  • Having a valid driving licence
  • Respect your medical indications as indicated on your driving licence to keep your right to drive (Prescription glasses, car fittings in case of a handicap…)
  • Your driving licence hasn’t been suspended, cancelled or restricted in the country where it has been issued.
  • Your driving licence hasn’t been issued while your French driving licence was cancelled.

If you meet all these conditionsyou can drive in France with your driving licence as long as it is valid. There are still two situations where you will be required to exchange your driving licence. See further below.

 

If you do not meet the criteria, what can you do?

  1. Wait to meet the criteria if you are underage or if your driving licence has been suspended.
  2. Take your driving licence in France.
  3. Submit a driving licence exchange request. This is possible for licence out of validity.

 

 

When does the driving licence exchange is required for EU/EEA driving licence holders?

 

In most instances, EU driving licence holders do not require to exchange their driving licence to be able to drive in France. However, there are exceptions, the main ones are:

If you want to add a driving category to your right to drive a car (category B), you will have to exchange your driving licence for a French one.
For example, if you want to add your right to drive a motorcycle or a truck in France. You will also have to request an extension to the other categories you wish to be added to the initial category B.

If you commit a highway code violation that resulted in a driving point loss, a suspension, a restriction or a cancellation of your driving licence, you will also need to exchange your driving licence

 

 

You are a non-European citizen

 

Short stay or studies

If you are staying in France with a short stay visa (3 months or less), you can drive with your foreign driving licence. No exchange is required.

The foreign driving licence must be valid and also written in French. If it is written in another language, you have two options:

  • Have it translated by a sworn translator approved by a French Court of Appeal
  • Have an international driving licence to show together with your foreign driving licence

 

Also, if you are in France for your studies under a student visayou can drive during the entire duration of your studies (this includes your student visa renewals).

The foreign driving licence must be valid and also written in French. If it is written in another languageyou must have it translated by a sworn translator approved by a French Court of Appeal

However, once you finish your studies and if you remain in Franceyou will need to follow the driving licence exchange process to continue driving in France. 
You can submit the exchange request at the same time as your change of status or within the following 12 months after receiving your new residence permit.

The driving licence exchange will only be possible if the country of issuance of your licence has a bilateral agreement with France. You will find the information on the attached list.

If there is no bilateral agreement, you will have to take the driving licence in France to be able to drive. 

 

Long stay residence

The driving licence exchange toward a French driving licence is required for driving in France if you ar residing for more than 6 months and you need to drive.

Your foreign driving licence is valid for 12 months in France, starting from the start date of your actuaresidence permit, or OFII validation of your Long term visa (VLS-TS).

Your driving licence can be exchanged under the following conditions

  • It has to be valid
  • The driving licence should be delivered by a country where you had the right to reside before coming to France
  • The country of issuance of your licence must have a bilateral agreement with France. You will find the information on the attached list.
  • The foreign driving licence must be written in French. If it is written in another language, you must have it translated by a sworn translator approved by a French Court of Appeal. If the translation has been done in another country, the translation should be legalised or apostilled (check the legalization table attached)

If there is no bilateral agreement, you will have to take the driving licence in France to be able to drive. 

 

You should also respect the following conditions to be able to exchange your driving licence

  • Be over the age of 18-year-old to drive a car (driving licence B)
  • Have your normal residence in France (more than 6 months)
  • Have a valid driving licence
  • Respect your medical indications as indicated on your driving licence to keep your right to drive (Prescription glasses, car fittings in case of a handicap…)
  • Your driving licence hasn’t been suspended, cancelled or restricted in the country where it has been issued.
  • Your driving licence hasn’t been issued while your French driving licence was cancelled.

 

 


 

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How to exchange your driving licence? 

 

Prepare your file

The first step is to gather all the necessary documentation listed below:

  • Complete and sign the Cerfa form No. 14879*01 “Demande de permis de conduire par échange(do not forget to mention your mobile phone number and/or email address)
    Driving licence exchange file
    Photo by Sharon McCutcheon
  • Complete and sign the Cerfa form No. 14948*01 Ref 06 “Demande de permis de conduire – Format de l’Union européenne
  • The original driving licence
  • Copy of your passport
  • A recent proof of address (no more than 6 months old)
  • A copy of a valid proof of residency in France (Temporary residence card, permanent residence card, long-term visa…)
  • If you do not have the same nationality as the issuance country of your driving licence,  you should provide a proof of residence in the country of issuance of your driving licence at the time of you got the licence. The document should be translated by a sworn translator approved by a French Court of Appeal.  
  • Attestation of right to drive issued within the past 3 months by the administration which delivered the licence. The document should mention the absence of a driving restriction and licence cancellation. It should be translated by a sworn translator approved by a French Court of Appeal.
  • The foreign driving licence must be written in French. If it is written in another language, you must provide the original document of the translation done by a sworn translator approved by a French Court of Appeal. If the translation has been done in another country than France, the translation should be legalised or apostilled (check the legalization table attached)
  • 4 picture ID: including one per Cerfa form detailed above. Your full name and date of birth (DD/MM/YYYY) should be indicated at the back of each picture.
  • 1 prepaid 50g envelope with your full name and address

prepaid 50g envelope

How to submit the request

The driving licence request can now be done by postal mail only. Do not go to your local Préfecture as it used to be the case.

If your live in Paris (75)

You will need to send your documents to the CREPIC: 

Préfecture de Police de Paris
DPG / SDCLP
Centre de ressources des échanges de permis de conduire étrangers et des permis internationaux de conduite (Crepic)
1 bis rue de Lutèce
75 195 Paris Cedex 04

For the rest of France 

You will need to send it to the Cert of Nantes – Échanges de permis de conduire étrangers:

CERT EPE
TSA 83529
44035 NANTES CEDEX 01

 

You will then receive a certificate enabling you to prove that it is impossible to present your driving licence in the event of a roadside check. It will be valid until you obtain your new licence.

It may take several months to process your request. If your request is approved, the prefecture will send you your new driving licence by postal mail. Your new French licence will be valid for 15 years from the date of issuance.

If you are a new driver and you received your initial driving licence in the past 3 yearsyou will be provided with a provisional licence with 6 pointsif you are a confirmed driver you will be given 12 points from the penalty point system. Past the initial 3 years, your permit automatically becomes a 12 point driving licence.

 

Once you return to your country, you will be able to request a new driving licence to the relevant administration.

 

I hope this article helped you understand the requirements for driving in France and how to submit a driving licence exchange request.

If you have found it useful, let me know by liking the article or giving a comment. Thank you!

 

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Drive in France requirements

Driving in France: What are the requirements?
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