The Guide2 registering your car explains who needs to register their car, why they should and the steps required. The process below applies to a "standard" registration. If the car is more than 30 years old or has been modified, then different regulations apply, although the basic process will be the same. Please consult the Prefecture for further clarification in this case. The process also applies to motorcycles but they do not currently need a road worthiness certificate, which cars do.
Why should you register?
First of all, why should you register your car in France? Well, the law as it stands is that if you are resident in France, then your car must be registered here. A resident is someone who spends more than six months (183 days) each year in France.
If you are non resident, then you are allowed to use your car on UK plates for up to 6 months as long as it has a tax disc, current MOT, if required, and is insured.
If you move to France with the intention of staying more than 183 days, then you only have one month to register your vehicle and the six month rule does not apply.
Obtaining French insurance for a UK plated car is getting more difficult and the car will generally only be insured for third party cover until it is registered.
Registering your vehicle in France is not as difficult as you first think. There are a few documents you need to collect and you may need to get the car through a Controle Technique (French MOT). After that, it is down to the Prefecture with your cheque book to get the Carte Grise (French car registration document). One point to bear in mind; if at all possible, always give the office you are in a photocopy of the document you are handing over and not the original. Losing the original V5 for the car for example would seriously delay the registration process.
I have listed the documents that required for each step and also some additional documents that may or may not be asked for. The bottom line is, take all the paperwork you have, with a photocopy of each item. Better to go prepared then have to return another day with the one piece of information you did not have.
Here are the steps you need to follow;
Obtain a Certificate of Conformity
If the vehicle is fairly modern and the V5 has a European Type Approval Number, then the certificate of conformity may not be required. Contact your Prefecture for guidance.
If you need a certificate, then contact the car manufacturer direct or go to your franchised dealer and ask for one. This may be cheaper if you do it in the UK and you will also receive a full certificate, whereas a certificate issued by a French company may only be a partial certificate, involving further testing to obtain the full certificate. The cost of a certificate varies and some manufacturers provide them for free.
Adjust or change your headlights
The headlights of your car will need to be changed to dip to the right. Some vehicles, Mercedes is one example, have switches on the back of the headlights to change the direction of the headlight for driving on the right. Be careful with some dealers that would rather charge you for changing the complete unit rather than simply moving a switch!
Get a tax exemption certificate
Find your local Hotel des Impots. You do not normally need an appointment. Explain that you are importing a vehicle from another EU country and that you would like a "quitus fiscal". As long as the car is more than six months old and covered more than 6000 miles, there will be no tax to pay. For new cars bought in an EU country, you will need the original receipt showing that VAT has been paid and proof of registration in a foreign country. Without these you may be required to pay French TVA. You will also need to know the mileage of the vehicle in kilometres to enter on to the form. Remember to take the following:
• UK registration document (V5)
• Proof of identity such as passport
• Receipt for purchase of the vehicle if you have one
• Certificate of conformity – may not be asked for but take it along just in case
In some offices they will fill out the form for you, in others they will help you to fill it in. The form is not complicated and once completed you will be given the quitus fiscal.
Put the vehicle through a controle technique (CT).
This step does not currently apply to motorcycles as they do not require a CT, although the government is looking at possibly changing the rules in the future.
If the vehicle is more than 4 years old, then it must pass a CT. It will cost you around 65€ at a local garage or test centre and just like an MOT you will receive either a pass or fail and possibly a list of recommended repairs that are not compulsory. Remember to take the following:
• Certificate of conformity
• UK registration document (V5)
• Proof of address (utility bill – just in case)
• Proof of identity (passport - just in case)
The CT must be less than six months old when you register the car.
Next stop, the Prefecture
Find the Prefecture for your department and take the following paperwork with you:
• Certificate of conformity
• Tax exemption certificate (quitus fiscal)
• Controle technique certificate, less than six months old
• Proof of identity - passport
• Proof of address - utility bill
You will need to fill out a "demande de certificate d'immatriculation". Download one here before you go and fill in as much as possible.
The cost of a certificate d'immatriculation (Carte Grise) is based on the CV number for your car. This is worked out based on the power and the emissions.
So long as all you documents are in order, the car will be registered and you will leave with a temporary carte grise which will enable you to obtain you number plates. The full carte grise will be posted to you within a few days.
The Prefecture will retain your UK V5, but should hand you the vehicle export section, which you need to return to the DVLA to avoid receiving tax and SORN reminders.
The number plates must be riveted in place by law and screw fitted plates are illegal. Any garage will fit them for you and as in the UK, there are now large chain stores for vehicle spares that will make the plates and fit them for a quite reasonable price. Shop around while waiting for the certificate of conformity to arrive. Garages will ask for the carte grise (or temporary version) before carrying out any work on your vehicle.
Final tidying up!
Contact your insurer and give them a copy of the carte grise. One thing to remember with your insurance is that there may be a signature box on the certificate. The named driver must sign the certificate in the box if it is there. I know of several people that have been questioned over this by the Gendarmerie and one person receiving a ninety Euro fine because the certificate was not signed. Even if there is no box, it would be advisable to sign somewhere on the certificate just in case.
Remember to send the export certificate to the DVLA (the part of the V5 handed back by the Prefecture).
You will need to display your insurance in the cars windscreen and ensure that when out in the car that you have your documents with you;
• Carte grise
• Controle technique
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