Using a Foreign Car in France
It is not obligatory to register a foreign vehicle in France unless the owner is resident in France. A resident is someone who is domiciled in France for more than six months (183 days) per year, or who is employed in France.
Under EU law, a private vehicle may be temporarily imported and used on French roads for up to six months in any 12 months. The vehicle must be re-registered in France if it is owned and used by a resident of France.
It is against the law for the resident of an EU country, while in that country, to drive any vehicle registered in another EU country. So a person who is a resident of France may only drive a French-registered car while they are in France (with the exception of cross-border workers).
An EU-registered vehicle must satisfy the legal road worthiness requirements of its country of registration to be legal to drive elsewhere in the EU.
No duty is payable on a used vehicle imported for personal use, provided that VAT has been paid in the EU country where it was bought and it has belonged to the registered owner for over six months and driven 6,000 Km prior to entry into France.
For a new vehicle bought in another EU member state, the TVA must be paid in France unless the French Fiscal Services are provided with the original receipt stating that VAT has been paid and, and you have proof of a valid foreign registration of the vehicle.
- Take the vehicle's original registration documents and receipt of sale to the Centre des Impots. You will be issued with a fiscal certificate or tax clearance form. In some instances, there are customs and Tax charges payable, depending on the age/mileage of the car.
- Request an attestation de conformité (certificate of conformity) from the vehicle manufacturer or a certified representative. This identifies that the vehicle is of a recognised type in France or in the European Union.
Note: If the vehicle has a recently-issued registration document which states the type approval number, a certificate of conformity may not be required
- If the car is more than four years old it will need to go through a côntrole technique, the French roadworthiness test; this must have occurred less than six months previously (two months if a contre-visite or re-test is required). Roadworthiness certificates from other countries are not acceptable as an alternative - the car must go through a French côntrole technique.
- Apply to the motor registration department at the Préfecture or Sous-Préfecture for the form: Demande de certificat d'immatriculation d'un véhicule. This initiates the process of registration. A dossier will be opened.
- The form (Cerfa form n°13750) to register a used car can be downloaded: Click here (PDF in French)
Supply them with:
- Proof of identity
- Proof of residence/address (property title deeds, rental contract, utility bill, insurance certificate)
- A copy of the foreign registration certificate
- Copy of the attestation de conformité (issued by the manufacturer or their agent)
- A copy of the certificate of purchase and customs clearance certificate (issued by the Centre des Impots)
- Côntrole technique certificate if required
There is a fee due based on the CV engine power of the vehicle.
Documents should be sent to the Service des Mines or Drire which verifies that the vehicle: make, year and chassis number correspond to French homologation standards, La fiche d'homologation. This process can take two or three weeks.
If all goes well, you will be notified when you should return to the Préfecture or Sous-Préfecture, where your registration document, the Carte Grise and new registration number will be issued. All that remains is to have new number plates (plaques d'immatriculation) made and fitted.