Britons in France CAN use UK driving licences in case of no-deal Brexit

Britons living in France will be able to continue to drive on their UK driving licences in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the French government has announced.

Britons in France CAN use UK driving licences in case of no-deal Brexit
Photo: AFP

There was some good news for British people living in France on Monday. 

The French government has published a decree stating that UK driving licences can continue to be used in the case of a no-deal Brexit by those who can prove “normal residence” in France. Britons can also apply to have their licences converted to French ones under the same conditions as now. 

“Normal residence” means those who have been living in France for six months (185 days) and the move will come into effect the day the UK crashes out of the European Union without a deal. 

If you fall into this category, you won't need to exchange your licence until either the photocard or licence expires, or if it is lost or stolen. 

However if you do not have the required 185 days evidence you will have to apply for a new license as a Third Country National, meaning you have 12 months to apply after Brexit day.

“This decree specifies the conditions for the recognition and exchange of driving licenses issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to persons who have transferred their normal residence to France,” said the statement.

Previously Britons in France were advised to exchange their driving licences as soon as possible to avoid the prospect of having to take a driving test in France. 

That led to thousands of Britons inundating French authorities with exchange applications which led to backlog. Many have been waiting over a year to get their French driving licence. Recently French authorities in Nantes, where applications,ns are processed, said they would not be accepting new applications until they knew more about whether Britain would leave the EU with a deal.

READ ALSO: Q&A – French authorities answer your questions on exchanging driving licences

READ ALSO: Exchanging your British driving licence for a French one – what you need to know

It was believed French authorities would give Britons a year to exchange their licences following a no-deal Brexit but the latest decree does not include a deadline.

The decree has been welcomed by many although there is still frustration felt by those who have already sent their applications away.

“Many people are very relieved,” said Kim Cranstoun from the “Applying for a French driving licence” Facebook page.

“But unfortunately this still doesn't help the vast amount of people that are still waiting for their applications to be finalised.”

Cranstoun added that many have been “stuck in the system for months”, saying that she would like the authorities “to respond to people”. 

“There's no point in giving them the advice to continue to try and contact these people when they are getting nothing back, on either contact form, email address or phone numbers.”

The full announcement on driving licences can be found on the government-run Légifrance website


Member comments

  1. Where can one find the french text on Légifrance site for
    allowing British here to keep using their driving licences

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France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Visits to the Channel islands from France have halved since Brexit, and French local authorities say they may be forced to cut the regular ferry service, asking for the passport requirement to be waived for French visitors.

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Travel to and from the Channel islands – which are British crown dependancies – has reduced significantly since Brexit, when passports became a requirement for those travelling in and out of the islands and their ports.

Now the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France has asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.

Jean Morin told Ouest France that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.

“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin. 

He added that if a solution is not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023, then local authorities will stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025”, Morin told Ouest France.

Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU. 

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: How Brexit has changed the rules on pensions, investments and bank accounts for Brits in France

DNO re-launched operations in April and since then, the company, and by extension the département – who plays a large role in funding it via a public service delegation – has been losing significant funds.

According to Franceinfo, the number of passengers has been cut in half since passport requirements were introduced. Franceinfo estimates that for one ticket for one passenger costing €30, the département spends €200.

According to Morin, the ideal solution would be to require a simple ID for tourists seeking to take just day-long or weekend-long stays on the islands – which reportedly represents at least 90 percent of the boats’ usual passengers.

“The Jersey government is working hard on the issue and is waiting for an agreement from London and the European Union. There is the possibility that things could move quickly”, Morin told Franceinfo on Tuesday.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, boats going to and from the French mainland carried at least 110,000 people per year. In 2022, only 40,000 passengers made the journey, Olivier Normand, the sales manager of Manche Îles Express, told Actu France.

Normand had expected the decline, however. He told Actu France that the company had taken a survey, which found that almost half (between 40 and 50 percent) of their clientele did not have a passport.