SHARE
COPY LINK

DRIVING

Did you know: Why leaving your car engine running in France could land you in trouble

Did you know there is a fairly unknown law in France about leaving your engine running that you'd be wise to be aware of, especially given the French police seem to be cracking down on it.

Did you know: Why leaving your car engine running in France could land you in trouble
Illustration photo: AFP

This obscure law is in the headlines as it is now a new ‘environmental offence’ in Belgium.

From now on if drivers in Belgium leave their engine running when the car is parked up, they can be immediately fined a painful €130.

While this new law might sound a little draconian it has actually existed in France since 1963, when the order was introduced “relating to fumes produced by motor vehicles”.

The law required parked cars to have their engines turned off, “except in case of necessity, in particular during cold weather”.

We’ve all been there.

You're sitting in your parked car in a lay-by or a car park or just by the side of the road waiting to pick someone up and the car is too hot, too cold, you need air conditioning, you need to charge your phone, you are listening to music or you simply forget to switch it off… 

But in France this is in fact punishable with a fixed fine of €135, which may be reduced to €90 or increased to €375, or even a daunting €750 depending on the case and how long it takes you to pay the fine.

And don't think it's just an old law that the police will never pick you up on because fines are being issued, according to Le Parisien newspaper.

They have even been increasing in recent years.

In 2014, 649 fines were imposed. By 2017, this figure had risen four-fold to 2,594.

READ ALSO:

(AFP)

Motorists could be excused for believing that it uses more fuel to restart your engine (and therefore potentially cause more pollution) than keeping your engine idle.

But this has not been the case since the early 1990s. An idling engine consumes about 0.8 litres per hour. And it degrades the pollutants it emits less easily than at normal speed.

If you need another good reason to turn off the ignition when you're parked, it is actually better for your car.

It has been proven that running the engine when stopped damages several components such as cylinders, spark plugs and the exhaust system. It’s almost enough to encourage you to take the bus.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

LIVING IN FRANCE

Reader question: Can I buy or sell a car in France if I have a foreign driving licence?

You can drive in France for a certain amount of time with some foreign driving licences. But can you buy or sell a car with one and what other documents do you need?

Reader question: Can I buy or sell a car in France if I have a foreign driving licence?

Let’s start with the good news: a driving licence is not among the list of official documents needed to buy or sell a car in France – just to drive one.

But it’s likely that are asked to provide one when you buy a car.

In that case does what happens if you have a foreign rather than French licence?

We know by reading certain Facebook posts that this question often arises and some people have reported that they were wrongly asked for their French driving licence when buying a car and told that a UK licence, for example, wasn’t acceptable. 

Not having a French driver’s licence should not stop you from being able to buy a car in France.

Kim Cranstoun who runs the Facebook group ‘Applying for a French Driving Licence’ told The Local: “It’s a dealer issue, they have it fixed in their mind that you have to have a French licence mainly because they don’t understand the new agreement and the last thing they read was a UK licence was only valid until the end of 2021.

“As long as you have a valid UK licence you can purchase a car in France. Anyone going into a dealer with a valid UK licence should carry a copy of the agreement,” she said.

Interestingly a driving licence is not on the list of official documents you need to buy a car (see below) but dealer’s will often ask for it if they take charge of registering the car.

What does the seller need?

The seller is responsible for providing the car registration document, called the certificat d’immatriculation and known informally as the Carte Grise.

You must sign a certificat de cession (transfer certificate) along with the buyer, and then declare the sale on the ANTS website within 15 days. 

You should then receive a code de cession (transfer code) which you must also send to the buyer so they can register the vehicle in their name.

If the vehicle is second-hand and more than four-years old, the seller should also provide a recent roadworthiness certificate, proving that the vehicle has passed a contrôle technique (similar to an MoT in the UK), in the past six months.

What does the buyer need?

When you buy a car, you must sign a certificat de cession (transfer certificate) along with the previous owner, who has to declare the sale on the ANTS website within 15 days. 

The seller should then receive a code de cession (transfer code) which they must send you because you will need this to register the vehicle in your name. There is a fee, which usually falls to the buyer to pay for transferring a vehicle registration – which varies depending on the region, type of car, and its CO2 emissions. 

The previous certificat d’immatriculation (registration certificate – aka carte grise) needs to be struck through, and completed with the date of the sale and the seller’s signature.

You will then need to register the car in your name, which can be done online. You have one month to do this, otherwise you risk a fine of up to €750. 

If you are purchasing the car through a dealer, this transfer of registration will be done at the time of the purchase. Be aware, a dealer may ask for your driving licence as part of the process, but – as long as you hold a valid licence, whether it is French or not, you will still be able to go through with your purchase.

In fact, you can ask any certified garage to apply for the carte grise on your behalf, which could save on time and hassle, even if you didn’t buy the car from them.

When applying for a carte grise you will need to submit proof that the vehicle has undergone a contrôle technique (vehicle safety check) within the previous six months if the car is at least four years old.

To register the vehicle, you need the following official documents:

  • Identification (passport or identity card)

  • Proof of residence (typically a utility bill or rental receipt, less than six months old).

  • A copy of the Certificat d’immatriculation/Carte Grise with the appropriate section filled in.

  • The contrôle technique (CT) certificate, if required.

Buying a car with a loan

If you have the funds to buy the vehicle outright, you’ll have no problems – simply hand over the cheque at the appropriate time. It may be harder, however, to access financing for your vehicle if you’re not permanently resident in France.

Driving your new vehicle

If you plan to drive your car away that day, you will also be asked for a copy of a valid insurance certificate for the vehicle – in France, the vehicle is insured rather than the driver. 

Most car insurance companies will provide a provisional certificate to allow you to drive your new purchase. You will then need to finalise details and provide them with a copy of the Carte Grise when it arrives.

Driving licence

If you live permanently in France, sooner or later you may need to swap your driving licence for a French one – but where you learned to drive in the first place could dictate whether you have to take a French driving test. We cover that in depth here – including what’s changed for Britons in France after Brexit.

You can buy some vehicles – known as voitures sans permis – and drive them on some French roads without having a driving licence. Anyone born after 1988 must, however, hold a Brevet de sécurité routière, which has a 15-year limit, and the vehicles are speed limited and can only travel on certain routes.

SHOW COMMENTS