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Changing French licence for GB


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I've not been on here for a long time but I've got a very new problem. When I moved to France about 17 years ago I got myself a permis de conduire no problem. Now I'm wanting to change back to a GB licence things have changed dramatically.

DVLA are wanting a "certificate of entitlement" less than 6 months old in addition to my old permis. Also, it has to be translated into English but they can't tell me how official that has to be or what quals or prof memberships the translator needs to have. These are new rules that came in at the start of the month and they haven't even got new D1 forms that reflect the changes.

When I got my permis I dealt with the local prefecture but that seems to have changed now and it's all been centralised. So does anyone know where I should be contacting and what I should ask for? Also, any ideas about whether they would send the said certificate to a UK address? I've still got my French house but the chances of me getting over there anytime soon are rather slim.
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Motorhead, we have just been through exactly this process.

This is the series of events:

All the paperwork went off in January along with the cheque, and all came back with  such a letter as you received.

I wrote and complained bitterly about this, and someone called me about it.

And then someone else did, because my letter had been very very firm.

The first person had explained that the french had been uncooperative about the exchanges, and unfortunately this had to be done.

About three days later, when we got the second call, they said that things had changed a couple of days before, and it was no longer necessary to have the certificate and to send everything off again with a letter explaining that we had been told that it was no longer necessary.

About two weeks later the cheque was cashed and the licence arrived about four days later.

Call them, I would, and tell them that you know of someone who had been through this hassle and was told that this rule had changed and that they now have their licence.

I sent everything recorded and signed for to the DVLA Swansea, SA99 1BT.

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Brits with a UK licence in France and trying to change them are faced with the same request from the French, we want a certificate of entitlement, from the DVLA. Although at the minute they aren't changing peoples licences as there is no agreement in place and negotiations are ongoing. So it's strange that lack of agreement doesn't seem to affect people in the UK. just those in France. I wonder who's say-so caused this? Would it be the same man who is telling porkies about the Astra Zenica? Of course not. ??
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 My suspicion is that french people in the UK who needed to change their driving licences, kicked up a fuss in France about this.

My husband never got any other paperwork when he passed his french licence,  isn't as if we could go sorting through our paperwork and find something else.

Would have been a nightmare if he had had to apply to France for this extra paperwork. That could have taken months. He is 70 and I am pretty sure that he would not have been able to drive in the UK without having exchanged his french licence for a UK one.

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I didn't receive a letter from the DVLA. I do have a transcript of a 1hr 20 min webchat I had with them. I tried to phone over the course of a week but even at the start of daily business all I'd get was a recorded message saying that they were too busy to answer.

The transcript tells a very different story from yours. I can send you a copy if you'd like to see it.
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I don't need to see the transcript as what you have been told was not valid as long as you have a full french licence.

So better than that, I will pm you an email address for the person who dealt with us.

They had the good grace to give us their email address.

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BinB - that's what I was thinking as well.
I can't remember clearly the 'why' right now - but I do know I obtained from the DVLA a statement from them confirming that I was entitled to drive - ie had passed my driving test and had a current, full driving licence.
Surely if the DVLA were able to provide that to me when living in France - then all they have to do is call up the same letter - and they can confirm to themselves that you had a full UK driving licence and were entitled to drive in the UK.
Your french driving licence would indicate, wouldn't it, whether it is valid (ie not suspended because of dangerous driving or driving while under the influence).
So if you have a current french licence then the DVLA are at fault, surely.
With this chinese virus, though, I think many of them are WFH and there's a huge back-log of 'normal' day-to-day stuff they are ploughing through.
Good luck.


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Chessie the DVLA haven't been at fault, just post brexit, things got a little fraught/messy.

And now they come to an agreement with the french so things have been remedied, at least they were for us, and hopefully for motorhead too.

I have had to get extra paperwork for lots of things over the years, more than I care to remember and some very  costly, but this should have been simple from the outset and wasn't.

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[quote user="chessie"]I can't remember clearly the 'why' right now - but I do know I obtained from the DVLA a statement from them confirming that I was entitled to drive - ie had passed my driving test and had a current, full driving licence.[/quote]

That might have been as far back as Jan. 2013 which is when France finally got around to introducing the photocard licence, they'd known they had to since 1998 it but were STILL late!

The controlling EU directive for that required that issuing authorities satisfy themselves that applicants for licence exchanges were entitled to be holding the national licence they were surrendering, for UK citizens that was evidenced by the Letter of Entitlement.

If you passed your test in UK then you would normally be entitled to that letter on demand.

As per its name the letter only states the recipient "has/had the following Full entitlement" (actual wording) and lists the groups they are entitled to drive, nowhere does it say that that the person actually holds a licence.

I would presume that if an applicant were disqualified then either the letter would be refused of if were issued would say that they were subject to a disqualification and it's end date.

Don't know how it works the other way (test passed in France or elsewhere) but if you did pass your test in UK and returned to live there then you are entitled to directly reapply for a UK licence, it's not a case of exchanging back.

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As I spoke to two people at the DVLA a few weeks ago, certainly in the UK this letter was not required, say last December. But suddenly was and now it isn't.

I am curious as to how things go with Motorhead. I daresay that they will get a reply to their queries and questions within the next 10 days and they will post accordingly.

Remember that the licence from the other country goes back and if the person has points or lost their licence, then I am sure that the authorities in either country will let their counterparts know.

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well surely if one has been banned, there would be nothing to exchange.

I have exchanged my uk licence for a french one, and my French one for a UK one since I moved back. And my husband has exchanged his french one he passed in France for a uk one.

I didn't need this extra paperwork,and my husband didn't either, and he received his uk licence just over a week ago. As I explained, the dvla were saying that the french were being awkward requiring this,and suddenly they didn't. C'est tout.

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I passed my bike test in Glasgow and car test in Greenock so still part of the UK for the time being.

I went into the sous prefecture in Montlucon, filled in a form and gave them 2 photos and my GB licence (no money asked for). In return I got a receipt that allowed me to drive for a month. The only drama was when the fonctionnaire failed to put my bike category on the receipt, but I got my new licence 2 weeks later through the post from the prefecture in Moulins and everything was in order

If there's any logic to the DVLA wanting a certificate from France it's to check that I'm not banned.

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This is the sort of mince I've been getting from the DVLA

Sophie (8:36:29 AM):You’ll need to apply by post using a D1 application form.


- To include your current licence (if you have lost it, please mention this on the form).

- To provide relevant ID.

- A passport standard sized photograph.

- The application will be free of charge.

This form can be ordered https://www.gov.uk/dvlaforms. Alternatively, you can get one from selected Post Offices® that offer driving licence transactions.

To check what ID to provide and how this is returned, please see https://www.gov.uk/id-for-driving-licencThe address to send it to is on the back of the form.

You will also need to provide a certificate of entitlement from the French licensing authority. It’s got to be less than 6 months old and show all categories you can drive and the validity dates. This will need to be accompanied with an official translation if the document is not in English.

You (8:38:05 AM):Is a certificate of entitlement the same as my current licence and what constitutes an official translation?

Sophie (8:40:35 AM):A certificate of entitlement is a document issued by the licencing authority confirming the status of your licence and is separate from the licence itself.

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You are joking, I am furious. How can my husband get his about two weeks ago and you be told this.

WELL, I have sent an email about this. This is NOT ON! AND I shall be complaining if I do not get a proper response to this.

You do need the form to fill in though and as it is a french licence, not an original UK one, exchanged to a french one, there will be a charge and it will cost you £43.

If you have ever had a UK provisional licence you will need to indicate that on the form.

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 [Www]Now now NickP, you cannot say that you didn't know that french bureaucracy couldn't be a nightmare before you took the plunge and moved to France permanently. And as you are seeing it certainly can be.

I have no idea what you can do about such things either. And we still hit brick walls, with french stuff, even when we think things are sorted.

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