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The six month rule and other things to know about bringing a British car to France

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The six month rule and other things to know about bringing a British car to France
Make sure your car is road legal in France. Photo: AFP
10:53 CEST+02:00
Many people who move to France from the UK want to bring their car with them - but there are some rules you'll need to follow once you get here. Here's a look at what you need to know.
The 6-month rule
 
You are required to register your UK car in France if you intend to live here for more than six months - in any 12-month period. 
 
Non-residents can keep their UK license plates for up to six months while French residents have just one month to get them changed. 
 
In some cases, French residents can have up to three months to get their French plates if the car needs to be approved by the DRIRE (Regional Directorate for Industry, Research and the Environment).
 
Driving without a French licence plate is against the law if you are here long-term so even though you will see British people in France doing it, it is in fact illegal.
 
Photo: AFP
 
That means that if the car is involved in an accident it is possible that the insurer will refuse any claim if the vehicle is not carrying a French registration plate and has not been properly registered.
 
In order to get your carte grise - which shows that your car is registered in France - the French government advises you to follow these steps:
 
1. Get a Certificate of Conformity 
 
The Certificate of Conformity (attestation d'identification) is one of the most important documents when it comes to registering your car in France and obtaining Carte Grise (or 'grey card').
 
It shows that the car complies with French technical standards. 
 
The simplest way to get hold of the certificate is by ordering one online here and unfortunately it's likely to set you back a bit. For example, for a Peugeot, you'll have to fork out €280 while a certificate for a Smart car will set you back by €200. Alternatively, if you happen drive a Rolls Royce you'll be expected to pay in the region of €695.
 
It's worth noting that if you own a newer car, you may well have been provided with the manufacturer's certificate in the service manual.
 
2. Get a 'quitus fiscal' 
 
Everyone needs to get their hands on a 'quitus fiscal' from your local tax office in France to confirm VAT clearance on the vehicle. 
 
In order to this you will need to provide the purchase invoice for the vehicle, the registration certificate in English, proof of identity and proof of address. 
 
Photo: AFP
 
5. Get temporary plates 
 
So that you can drive with an unregistered vehicle from the UK, you will need to apply for a temporary registration certificate and plates. 
 
This will be valid for four months and will allow you to drive freely in France while you wait for your vehicle to be officially registered. 
 
The provisional registration (with plates) is issued by www.cartegrise-guichet.fr and to apply, you will need the tax clearance, the invoice for the purchase of the vehicle, the English registration certificate (V5), and proof of identity and address. You can apply for your temporary certificate at the link here
 
6. Pass the contrôle technique
 
If your vehicle is more than four years old and its last MOT was more than six months ago, you will have to go to a registered garage for a compulsory car test, known as a contrôle technique.
 
To do this, it will be necessary to provide the Certificate of Conformity and Certificate of Registration in English. 
 
7. Apply for permanent registration 
 
Like your temporary registration, you can apply for the permanent registration at www.cartegrise-guichet.fr on this link
 
It's worth noting that since November 2017, it has not been possible to go to the prefecture to register a car.
 
To apply you'll need the following documents: the tax clearance certificate, the invoice for the purchase of the vehicle, the certificate of registration in English, proof of identity and address, a copy of your driving license, certificate of insurance and Certificate of Conformity.
 
Finally, the bad news is that this could all change once Brexit has happened as these rules are specifically for cars registered in one EU country being registered in another country in the bloc. 
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Rupert - 15 Jul 2019 19:59
Typical French beaurocracy. There must be a simpler way
- 15 Jul 2019 20:30
Apply direct to the uk supplier of your vehichle, eg renault uk, and it could save you a lot of money.
Paul Roberts - 15 Jul 2019 20:57
Would you be kind enough to expand upon this remark. please? I'm just in the process of plunging into this morass of bureaucracy and would appreciate any helpful insights I can get.
Eric Witton - 15 Jul 2019 22:12
My strong advice is don't bother at all - this process is a beaurocratic minefield as only the French can make it and could cost you thousands.
I imported a Left Hand Drive Golf GTi into France last December and still don't have French registration yet, so far the process has cost me over 3,000 (three thousand) euros in fees and travelling, not to mention the time spent on the paperwork.
The UK branches of your manufacturer won't help with the European CoC; they will redirect you to their French counterparts, who in the case of VW were no help whatsoever.
I therefore had to embark on DRIRE process described, which they devolve for a series of technical tests to a company called UTAC CERAM (who only have two sites in the whole country - Paris and Salon-de-Provence) and which costs 2,038 euros for the full set of tests. This was inspite of me already having obtained the Controle Technique without a problem, but that wasn't good enough for the DRIRE some of whose tests were an exact repeat of the Controle Technique (e.g. emissions and brakes). There are all sorts of rules which they don't tell you about beforehand, such as that both your wing mirrors MUST be convex in shape. Anything else and they are non conforming and they check them with a credit card initially to see if they are flat or not. One of mine was flat; cue a replacement glass and another 240 euros for the re-test, which I am currently awaiting. My advice is to hire a car on arrival in France until you find the French registered car you want to buy, it could save you alot of time and money.
Mike - 16 Jul 2019 11:00
Sorry, but the tale of woe above (Mr Witton) is not typical at all. VW are a problem, but most manufacturers have happily supplied CofC documents for the several UK vans and a couple of cars that my friends here have brought over. There are a few specialist firms who will help with all the documentation and processes, for a fee, if it all seems too daunting. The main problem is that it is taking so long at the moment, but so long as you have reported the vehicle as "exported" to DVLC, and you have evidence of having applied (a receipt of application is normally sent to you within a week or two), then the cops on both sides of the Channel seem fine with that. Of course, post-Brexit, it may all change.
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