Second home owners in France: Can I register a car at my French address?

Second home owners in France: Can I register a car at my French address?
Photo: AFP
For many people with a second home in France, especially those living in rural areas, a car is essential. But is it possible to buy and keep a French registered car in the country if you are not a permanent resident?

And if you want to keep a car here is it better to buy in France or import from the UK?

READ ALSO Are the French really bad drivers?

Registering a car to a non-permanent address in France.

This is a relatively straightforward process as long as you can prove that you have an address in France – there is no requirement to prove full-time residency.

If you're buying a car in France then it will come with the carte grise registration documents and the car will already be registered in France.

But you still need to do is change the details on the carte grise so that you are the registered owner.

If you buy from a dealership some dealers will arrange the paperwork, for you for a fee of course, but either way you will need to provide valid ID (a passport) and proof of an address in France that the car will be registered to.

To do this you will need to provide documentation that includes your full name and is dated within the last six months.

Any of these are accepted:

  • The title deed to the home if you are the owner
  • A rent receipt in your name if you are a tenant
  • Your most recent bill for the taxe d'habitation or local tax
  • A telephone, gas or electricity bill (water bills and mobile phone bills may not be accepted)
  • A certificate of insurance of the home
If you do not have any of these in your name (for example if all housing documentation is in the name of a partner of family member) it may still be possible to register the car but you will need the following:
  • Proof of residence in the name of your host (ie the person whose name the house is in)
  • A declaration on honour. This is a handwritten letter, written by your host, stating that you are living at his/her home.
  • A copy of the host's identity document (passport)
  • An official document linking you to the host's house. This can be a tax slip, a social security certificate, a pay slip or a bank statement.

If you live on a boat, you can register with the following documents:

  • A certificate issued by the harbour master's office of your boat's home berth or port
  • A certificate of insurance of the boat
  • A title deed to the boat if you are the owner
  • A valid rental contract if you are the tenant

If your dealer has not competed the carte grise paperwork for you you will need to do it yourself, and this can be done online here.

In the past local préfectures could deal with car registration, but the process has now been moved online. However if you get stuck there is a helpline that is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm on 0899 86 93 93.

If you are buying a new car, bear in mind that you cannot drive it until the registration is complete.

Is it better to buy in France or import a car from England?

The answer to this essentially depends on whether you think simplicity or bargain prices are the most important thing.

If you buy in France the process of registering it to your address is pretty simple, as the car already has all the relevant French documentation.

The downside to this is that cars, particularly second hand ones, are significantly more expensive in France than in the UK.

So buying in the UK will be quite a lot cheaper, but certainly not simpler.

If you are planning on keeping the car permanently in France, after six months you will have to change its registration to French, a process that is quite complex and will also involve some financial outlay. If you do follow this process, don't forget to let the DVLA back in Britain know that you have exported the vehicle.

FIND OUT MORE HERE The six month rule and other things to know about bringing a British-registered car to France

If your car is registered in France, you will also need a French insurance policy, which can work out more expensive than a comparable policy in the UK. But there are some ways to make it cheaper, especially if you are not driving it that often. (see link below)

READ ALSO Seven need-to-know tips for cutting the cost of car insurance in France

Once your car – either French or English – is registered in France it falls under the contrôle technique regime for regular road-worthiness tests This is the equivalent of the MOT in the UK and needs to be done every two years, but not before the car is four years old.

READ ALSO What you need to know about France's new (and tougher) car inspections

And, depending on where you're driving, you may need to register your car for a Crit'Air sticker to comply with the anti-pollution traffic restrictions many towns and cities across France are introducing.

READ ALSO How France's Crit'Air vehicle sticker system is taking over the country

Also bear in mind that if you do take it back to the UK it will count as a foreign vehicle under DVLA rules and you will not be able to drive it there long-term without switching the registration.



Member comments

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  1. There are often discussions on the Dutch community about this topic. My understanding is that can get it registered, however you have to lie about your residency. If France is your second home, your residency is not France. Your insurance company could refuse a big payment when you need it, as you committed fraud.
    Could you please check this with a legal advisor, to make sure nobody is out into trouble?

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