French Roads

Compared to the UK driving in France is a pleasure with less congested roads and motorways , France has about the same population as the UK but is around three times the size, this means the roads are a lot quieter however the distances are longer.


To drive in France you need to carry with you in the car the following items, A full driving licence, registration documents, vehicle insurance, a hazard warning triangle, a high viz vest ( this should be accesible from the seat not kept in the boot ) to be worn when getting out of a broken down vehicle, a certified breathalyser or alcohol-level test kit ( available from Chemists or supermarkets.
Seatbelts must be worn at all times both in the front and back seats, children under 10 must travel in the back using a child seat or booster seat, babies are allowed in the front passenger seat with the air bag switched off and using an approved rear facing specifically designed baby seat.

Speed Limits

Built up areas 50 km/hr, Main roads 90 km/hr, dual carriageways 110km/hr Motorways 130 km/hr except in rain when this is reduced to 110 km/hr

Traffic Accidents

In the unfortunate event of being involved in a traffic accident, first of all put on the high viz vest before getting out of the car and then set up the warning triangle behind to warn other motorists of the danger. You will need to fill in a declaration form, "Constat declaration", this form is carried in all French insured vehicles and includes a carbonated copy so only one form needs to be filled in. It is filled in by both parties involved in the accident, you should also if possible contact your insurance company immediately.
Any accident that involves injury to anyone, whoever's fault it is, make sure you stay with the vehicle until the police arrive

Drinking and Driving

As in the UK it is an offence to equal or exceed the blood/alcolhol level of 0.5 grams per litre (g/l).
the penalty for a reading of between 0.5 g/l and 0.8 g/l this could be all, or a combination of,
a fine, loss of six points or suspension of the licence.

for a blood/alcohol reading in excess of 0.8g/l the penalty could be two to four years in jail, a fine,
the confiscation of the vehicle, the suspension of the licence or the loss of six points

Importing a car into France from the UK

To register a car in France it will have to be taken to a regional "Directions Régionales de l’Environnement, de l’Aménagement et du Logement" ( DREAL ) office for examination

There are a number of things that will need to be done, the first and most obvious is to change the headlights from that of a right hand drive car to a left hand drive this can be done by most garages but will probably cost at least 500-600 euros, you will also need the following paperwork:

Proof of residence: Normally a utility bill or property deeds
Proof of Identity: passport
Driving Licence
Car registration documents
Copy of the bill of sale:
to include vat breakdown if the car is new
A customs certificate Available from the local tax office ( Hotel des impots )
A certificate of conformaty This should be available from the manufacturer
Contrôle technique If the car is over 4 years old you will need a Contrôle technique certificate, this is the equivalent of the UK MOT test.

When you finally get approval from "DREAL" you will need to fill in the registration form and take all paperwork to the Prefecture, who will then issue a Carte Grise you will then be able to obtain new number plates.

Contrôle technique The Contrôle technique, which is roughly the French equivelent of the UK MOT is required when vehicles reach 4 years old, This must be applied for in the 3 Months leading up to this. The test has then to be carried out every two years afterwards.

Insurance All vehicles must be covered by insurance " Responsabilité Civile " this is the equivalent to the UKs "third party insurance" Unlike the UK in France it is the car that is covered rather than the driver, this means that anyone driving the vehicle is covered.
The maximum " No claims bonus " in France is 50% and this takes 13 years to obtain. Provided that you have proof of a no claims bonus in the UK this will be acepted by a French insurance company.
The Insurance company issues a green coupon which must be affixed to the bottom, right corner of a windscreen and a green card that must be signed and kept in the vehicle.
All vehicles in France must have insurance even if they are in a garage or off the road.
Breakdown cover is normally included in the Insurance policy.

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Driving in France
Registration form for registering a used car

Service-Public The official French administration site, a welth of information on here
Useful Web Site Address's
If you use Google Chrome as a browser you can adjust the settings to allow for automatic translation from French to English for complete web pages
Carte Grise information and forms on obtaining a Carte Grise
Certificate of Compliance Site offering Certificates of Compliance for varous vehicles
Latest News
France's interior ministry may scrap the new law regarding the carrying of breath test kits in the car and in the meantime has delayed the period of grace before fines are imposed until March 1st 2013