Driving For Members

Revealed: The simple way to benefit from French government financial aid to buy a car

The Local France
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Revealed: The simple way to benefit from French government financial aid to buy a car
Buying a car in France - as complicated as buying one anywhere. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

France has numerous grants and low-interest loans available for anyone who wants to update their vehicles, but knowing what help you’re entitled to and how to get it can be a bit of a minefield - here's how you can cut the paperwork.


From the bonuses available, to the quick and easy way to access them, and what you need with you to buy a car, we have the lowdown.

Green bonuses

Whether you're buying a new or used car, France offers two main grants to encourage people to opt for a cleaner, greener vehicle.

The first is the bonus écologique (ecological bonus), available to purchasers of a new electric or plug-in hybrid car or van, or a second-hand electric vehicle. In order to qualify, new cars must emit less than 50g of CO2 per kilometre, while the limit is 20g for used electric cars.

The second aid is the means-tested prime à la conversion (exchange grant), which offers help towards a new or used car in exchange for sending a polluting car to the scrapheap. 

In order to see if you benefit from the prime à la conversion, and how much you may receive, the government has set up an online simulation

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: The financial aid available to buy an electric car in France

Local subsidies

In addition to government grants, local grants may be available if you want to buy a less polluting vehicle. Current national and local subsidies are listed here by the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

Further information is available from the government website Je Change Ma Voiture


Government-backed microloans

Lower-income households may also be eligible for a government-backed loan to help cover part of the purchase price of the eco-friendly vehicle. 

The scheme allows people with limited resources to buy or rent a low-polluting car or two-wheeler (bicycle, motorbike or electric scooter). Guaranteed at 50 percent by the State, the amount of the loan varies according to household income, up to €5,000 repayable over five years. It can be combined with the ecological bonus and the conversion bonus.

Full details are available here

How to cut the paperwork

Yeah, we know. So far so confusing. Especially when you add in all the local help. However, there is a way to cut through most of the bureaucracy . . .

All this financial help from the government brings vehicles into people’s financial reach that they would otherwise not even consider. And that means it’s in dealers' interests to help out.

Most car dealers will sort out all the paperwork for a bonus écologique and a prime à la conversion on your behalf, because it helps them sell cars - just mention them when you go along to look at new or second-vehicles are your local dealership.


If, however, you don’t take up the offer of financial help at the point of purchase, you may be able to apply for it retrospectively up to six months later. Find out more here.

READ ALSO What you should know when buying a car in France

Paperwork you’ll need to buy a car

There’s still paperwork when you buy a car. You must sign a certificat de cession (transfer certificate) along with the previous owner, or the dealership, 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 (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. 


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

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.
  • A valid contrôle technique (CT) certificate, if the vehicle is more than four years old.

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

Buying a car with a loan

If you have the funds to buy the vehicle outright, you simply hand over the cheque at the appropriate time. It is likely to be more difficult, however, to access financing - and any aid - for your vehicle if you are 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.


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