SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

DRIVING

Reader question: How can I import a car from the UK to France?

Brexit has made it incredibly difficult to import cars from the UK into France. We take a look at why.

A man waves a Union Jack from the window of a European-made car.
A man waves a Union Jack from the window of a European-made car. Importing vehicles from the UK to France is now practically impossible unless you are a professional trader. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

I want to import a car from the UK to France but it seems like the process is quite complicated ever since Brexit. What steps do I need to take? 

Importing a car from the UK to France has never been straightforward, but Brexit has certainly made things harder. 

Multiple dedicated car trading websites insist that only third-party professional exporters or people working in customs are capable of doing so successfully. 

We will do our best to explain why.

What is the process? 

The main difficulty is reaching the relevant customs officials to get the necessary authorisation to import a car in the first place. 

On the British side, you will need to declare that you are exporting via National Export System. To do this, you must get an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number – but you can only obtain such a number if you are only moving goods for personal use (i.e. if you are simply bringing a car for yourself).

You will also need access to the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) platform – again this is only possible for traders. If you fail to declare your export officially, border officials may block you from entering France with the vehicle. 

On the French side, you will ultimately need a 846A certificate to be able to drive your imported car legally – or to eventually sell it in France. Obtaining such a certificate is no easy feat. You will need to present the following documents to French customs officials after entering France:

  • A UK car registration certificate;
  • A receipt for the car, if you purchased it in the UK;
  • A certificate of conformity from the original seller attesting whether or not the car was mostly designed or manufactured in Europe (this can reduce the amount of payable customs fees).

To obtain the 846A certificate, you will need also to pay VAT and customs charges unless you meet the following criteria:

  • You have been living outside of the EU for more than one year and are moving to live in France;
  • You own the vehicle and have used it for at least six months;
  • You have listed the vehicle in the inventaire de vos biens (you have an insurance document proving that the vehicle belongs to you);
  • It is a personal vehicle rather than commercial utility one;
  • You have paid the required tax on the vehicle in the UK. 

If you don’t meet the above conditions, then you will have to pay the the tax and charges. 

You will generally have to pay 10 percent of the value of the car as a customs charge, although this can vary. You will also need to pay a flat 20 percent VAT charge on the imported vehicle. In other words, unless you can get an exemption, it is very expensive to import a vehicle from the UK into France. 

Our advice?

Don’t import a car from the UK to France. Not only is it expensive, but unless you are running an import/export business, it is also pretty much impossible. 

You are best off selling your vehicle in the UK and using public transport in France – or using the funds from the sale to buy a car on this side of the channel. 

Member comments

  1. These two paragraphs, when read together, don’t make sense (see the “again” in para 2). Do you mean that an EORI number is for traders? Or is CHIEF for private individuals? Which is it? The reader will assume that both systems should cater for the same group of people.
    The Local is a very useful source of information but too often the proofreading/subediting – call it what you will – is very poor, to the point of confusing the reader. It is getting very annoying and you risk misleading readers. If you don’t have a dedicated sub-editor, then please ask your journalists to proofread their articles properly.
    “On the British side, you will need to declare that you are exporting via National Export System. To do this, you must get an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number – but you can only obtain such a number if you are only moving goods for personal use (i.e. if you are simply bringing a car for yourself).
    You will also need access to the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) platform – again this is only possible for traders.”

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

DRIVING

Driving in France: Understanding the new French traffic laws

Over the past few months France has brought in several new laws relating to the roads - here is what you need to know, whether you're a pedestrian, a cyclist or a motorist.

Driving in France: Understanding the new French traffic laws

Changes for bicycles

France already has quite strict laws in place for cyclists, including a ban on listening to music on headphones while cycling, but as the government attempts to boost cycling in France, some additional laws have come into effect.

New categories – Starting in October 2022, France will create two additional categories for bicycles: the vélomobile (bicyles with protective panelling) and the vélo couché (horizontal bicycles). As these bikes are lower to the ground and more difficult for motorists to detect, they will be banned on roads where speed limits exceed 50 km/h.

Fast bicycles – Bicycles whose electric assistance allows them to go up to 45km/h will have to ride on a D9 track on roads with a speed limit of 50 km/h or more. This type of track allows for a separate space for pedestrians and cyclists. These types of bicycles should not ride on D10 tracks (where the sidewalk is shared between cyclists and pedestrians) for safety reasons.

Reflectors – New rules will go into place at the start of October also allow bicycles to use orange or yellow reflectors, which were previously prohibited. 

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about cycling in France

Changes for drivers

Signs

Signs banning the use of “cruise control” were repealed starting October 1st.

Additionally, starting in October, on the road in front of railroad crossings, a checkerboard marking area will be added to limit the possibility of accidents. This is intended to help vehicles be more aware of where they cannot enter, particularly if they are to be blocked in that space due to traffic. 

QUIZ How well do you know your French driving laws?

Electric vehicles

Starting October 1st, electric vehicles parked in front of a public charging station must be connected and charging – drivers cannot simply use them as an extra parking space. Violators risk a fine of €58.

Driverless cars

Starting September 1st, a new set of laws went into place that allowed for the licensing of more types of autonomous vehicles on the road in France, albeit with some limits.

Specifically, the laws concern “Level 3” (on a scale of 1 to 5) ‘semi-autonomous vehicles.’ These vehicles can operate either with a driver or automatically. However, France is still a long way from allowing unmanned vehicles on the roads, and it is important to note that so far only one such semi-autonomous vehicle has been approved for use – the Mercedes S-Class. Several other manufacturers have also announced their plans to launch their own versions.

City vehicle limits

Several new cities have introduced either introduced or extended their current rules regarding low-emission zones, which ban the most polluting vehicles from certain areas, based on the Crit’Air sticker system.

As of September 1st, the cities of Marseilles, Lyon and Rouen introduced such changes.

All vehicles are required to display a Crit’Air sticker, which gives them a rating of 1-5 based on their emissions level.

In Marseille Crit’Air 5 vehicles will be banned from a zone in the city centre, while the law comes into effect on September 1st, police will only start issuing fines on October 1st.

In Lyon the low-emission zone which is already in place in the city and its surrounding suburbs will now include private vehicles – previously it only concerned commercial vehicles. It covers Crit’Air 3,4 and 5 vehicles, however fines will only start being given in January 2023, until then police will simply inform drivers of the new rules.

READ MORE: MAP: Which French cities have vehicle bans or restrictions?

Rouen too is expanding its low-emission zone – which covers 13 communes of the city and its suburbs – to include private vehicles with a Crit’Air 4 or 5 rating.

A similar scheme is already in place in Paris, covers vehicles with Crit’Air 3, 4 and 5 ratings, while several other cities have intermittent schemes that come into effect when pollution levels rise. 

The sticker requirement covers both French and foreign-registered cars.

“Contrôle techniques” for motocycles and two-wheel vehicles

Technically, all motorised two-wheel vehicles were expected to need to submit to inspects as per a 2014 directive from the European Union.

In France this means the Contrôle technique – the regular vehicle inspection already required for cars (similar to the MOT in the UK). This would affect owners of motorised two-wheelers (scooters, motorcycles, mopeds) larger than 50 centimetres cubed. It would also impact owners of unlicensed cars, three-wheeled scooters, sidecars and quads.

If you have a vehicle dating from before 2016, according to the directive by the European Union, you should do your technical inspection prior to October 1st. For vehicles manufactured between 2016 and 2020, you have (in theory) until January 1, 2024. There is no set time frame for newer vehicles.

However, there has been much confusion surrounding this rule. President Emmanuel Macron’s government has attempted to pass legislation eliminating the obligation, but the legal status of the French government’s attempts are unclear, as they are still being judged by the European Commission. There will likely be more clarity on the subject, including further regulations regarding sound pollution, in the coming months, according to La Nouvelle Republique

According to reporting by La Voix du Nord, owners of two-wheeled vehicles do not have to worry about being fined if they have not yet submitted to inspections. 

Paris 

Within the city of Paris, riders of motorbikes, mopeds and scooters now have to pay for parking.

The new rules come into effect on Thursday, September 1st and concern motorbikes, mopeds and scooters.

Anyone who parks a motorbike, moped or a scooter with an internal combustion engine in public parking spaces within the Paris area has to pay.

READ MORE: Paris brings in new parking fees for motorbikes and scooters

Low-emission two-wheelers, such as electric scooters, can still park for free – however you will still need to register with the scheme. 

SHOW COMMENTS