Driving For Members

Reader question: Can you be fined for having a foreign-registered car in France?

The Local France
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Reader question: Can you be fined for having a foreign-registered car in France?

If you're living in France and you bring a car with you, after a certain period you will need to change its registration to French - but what are the penalties for not doing this and how likely are they to be applied?


Question: When I moved to France I brought my car with me, and I read that I now need to re-register it as French - but is this really necessary? In our village there are several Brits who have been in France for years and still drive UK-registered cars.

If you're coming to France on holiday there is no problem driving a foreign-registered car, and if you're coming from a European country you won't need an international driving permit.

If you are moving to France to live, however, you will need to re-register your car as French - find details on how to do that here.

READ ALSO The six-month rule and other things to know about bringing a car to France

Once you have completed the process you will get a number French number plate and the carte grise - registration document - for your vehicle.

But as ever, there are rules and then there is how they are enforced on the ground. So are French police really likely to pull you over and check whether your car is registered in the correct country? 


On a day-to-day basis, it's probably unlikely that police will stop you for this purpose. However, if you get pulled over for a routine traffic stop and then present documents showing that you are resident in France you could be fined for not having a correctly registered car.

The big change in enforcement of this rule as been at the Channel ports, and it's changed since 2021.

As you have probably deduced, this is Brexit related.

Brexit didn't change anything about the rules on registering cars - it's always been the case that drivers should have re-registered their cars after three months - but it's also true that many Brits lived in France and continued to drive UK-registered cars for months, years or even decades without anyone seeming particularly bothered.

What has changed since Brexit is that Brits living in France now need either a carte de séjour residency card or a visa, and must show these documents along with their passports when entering France.

If you are presenting a French border guard with a document that clearly states that you are a resident in France, and yet at the same time are driving a UK-registered car that is registered in your name it's pretty clear that you have not followed the rules.

The British community in France is reporting an increasing number of cases of French residents arriving at the border in a UK-registered car, and being fined for not following the correct registration process.

The fines have also been issued in certain cases to second-home owners who have incorrectly got a carte de séjour - find more on that problem here.


So the short answer is that yes, it's increasingly likely that you will be caught if you don't change your car registration, especially if you plan on crossing an international border. 

The standard fine is €135, but this can be higher if there is other outstanding paperwork.

A potentially larger problem is that not having a correctly registered car could invalidate your insurance. Not following the re-registration process is illegal and - as we all know that insurance companies love nothing more than refusing a claim - it could result in them refusing to pay out if you are involved in an accident.


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