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[quote user="Sara"]Mac, I don't know whether you read my thread but we are 100% legal[/quote]

No you are not, and on three separate fronts.

1. French residents are not permitted to drive foreign registered vehicles. There are some limited exceptions to this rule but a car owned by you will not fall under them.

2. As a French resident you are required to register your car in a timely manner, nominally within one month of arrival.

3. A foreign registered car is only permitted to circulate in the country for 6 months in any 12.

Explain to us again then please how you are 100% legal ?

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I suppose somebody has to point out that under EU law a vehicle has to be registered and insured in the country in which it is normally kept - which means, to all intents and purposes, the country in which its keeper is regarded as being resident.

So the registration in one place, insurance in another, scenario is clearly outside the law.

It has already been done to death on these forums that if you live in Britain then, apart from under a few particular circumstances, you cannot drive a French-registered car in Britain. So it works the other way round too; if you French resident then your car can't be British registered. So those who fail to register their vehicles in the country where they live are also operating outside the law.

But as has been said above, insurers are interested in taking your money, and the agents work to earn commission, not uphold the law. And as has also been said, nobody gives a stuff anyway. Unless you come across a particularly officious law enforcement officer, or you make a large insurance claim, of course.

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[quote user="Sara"]It makes me wild if people do not have valid insurance/ MOT docs. I know someone (English) NO insurance NO MOT, Fake driving licence!!! ( I have told him,if he is stopped he will be deported or put in prison) If he kills someone they will throw away the key....[/quote]Funnily enough it makes me wild too, I've recently heard of someone for instance who has dodgy insurance on her illegal unregistered cars and is possibly running them on bald tyres too, yet she insists that she is 100% legal, can you believe it [blink]

Could you point to the law which will see your English acquaintance deported for his misdeeds please ?

If you are so woefully misinformed about the law yourself why is anyone likely to take any notice of your hysterical unfounded threats ?

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No that is not the case. That is a widely held misconception. Under E.U. law it is perfectly legal for a vehicle registered in a particular E.U. state to be used in a different E.U. state on a regular & continuous basis provided it meets all necessary legal requirements under E.U. law. Such legal requirements include an appropriate & valid M.O.T. certificate in the case of a U.K. registered vehicle, or equivalent certificate of roadworthiness from a different member state where the vehicle is registered. In addition the vehicle must be the subject of a valid & appropriate insurance policy whose insurers must be in full knowledge of the day to day circumstances of the vehicle & the insured.

In the case of a U.K. registered vehicle being used by a U.K. citizen whislt resident in France it is perfectly legal for a U.K. based insurance policy to cover this risk. In the case of the Copeland U.K. motor policy insured via the Bacchus agent in France it is actually insured 100% with Lloyd's underwriters. Furthermore it is a written condition of the policy that the assured(s) can only drive the vehicle for up to a 3 month period on U.K. roads, without returning to France, otherwise the policy is then restricted after three months to third party cover only on U.K. roads. Under the arrangements of the policy underwriters issue a 12 month green card to the assured to cover the U.K. registered whilst in France. From what I understand Copeland Insurance have taken expert legal advice on this issue & the policy is deemed to be in full compliance with E.U. law. In this regard E.U. law I believe reflects the cross border ideology & concept that is at the heart of E.E.C.  

What I believe you are quoting are the conditions stipulated by the French authorities that used to apply before such conditions were deemed to have been overriden by E.U. law.    









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You seem to have decided that I was talking about you !

Referring me to Bacchus is a cop out, you made the statement about the EU law which, if true, could be quite significant so I don't think it's unreasonable to ask that you provide an authority for it, perhaps Bacchus could give you a link to it, that is presumably where you got the information ?

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I can point to these summaries of EU legal requirements:



Are you really saying that these summaries, updated within the last few months, are based on an outdated/superseded French law? That would mean that in Britain the DVLA is wrong too. Perhaps you should get the EU and DVLA and the Motor Insurers Bureau to correct the information they are putting out.

I have seen the actual legal documents on which these summaries were based, and could possibly find them if I had the time, but I am sure others will be better placed.

As far as insurance goes it rather hangs on whether or not Bacchus or the UK underwiters are authorised by the French equivalent of the MIB to issue policies in France. As this involves paying substantial sums, which don't really add up for a comparatively small expat market, and the major insurers find it more economical to set up subsidiaries in the other EU states rather than going through this route, I would personally want some very strong evidence that this insurance is fully legal.

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People seem to be forgetting that France itself is also governed by E.U. Law.

Or has France left the E.U. since the last time I checked?

Anyway, on the bachhus / copeland issue of U.K. motor policies applying to U.K. registered vehicles in France the explanation I have reproduced here is the explanation provided to me by Copeland's themselves.

As the interested party who provides these specialised insurance products to U.K. citizens living in France surely they are the people you should be addressing your questions & enquiries to..

These people are professional Lloyd's underwriters and I can only imagine have fully investigated all legal implications of the insurance product they underwrite & offer on the commercial market.

Or perhaps people here claim to know better than them?

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I was more than a little surprised to read the following in the first of your links:

You can only register a car in the country where you normally live or have permanent residence.

You cannot register your car in a country where you have a secondary residence or holiday house.

What are the implications there for those who bring across and leave a car at their holiday home for use during their visits or who buty a car in France for the same purpose? If the car never leaves France, surely it should be registered and insured here? I'm genuinely interested in the answer as we're considering doing one or other next year for our French house.

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It's a condition of most motor policies that the insured vehicle must be completely legal for whichever country in which it is being used. As French law still says, and as far as I am aware this is backed by EU legislation, that if you live in France your vehicle must be registered there, the Bacchus policy must, by definition, allow vehicles that are not compliant with French law.

I don't want to take this further because, having owned, used and insured several French and British vehicles over the last few years, I've never had a need to go outside normal established practice as far as registration and insurance are concerned. No doubt those who like living on the margins of the law, particularly with vehicle registration, will be interested to learn of this company.


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The link is only a summary of the law and doesn't cover every eventuality. The most important point is that the owner of the vehicle must be traceable. You will find a contact page -under "still need help?" - from which you can ask specific questions like that. I seem to recall seeing, maybe on another forum, that somebody had asked a very similar question and got a positive reply.

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[quote user="Will"]The link is only a summary of the law and doesn't cover every eventuality. The most important point is that the owner of the vehicle must be traceable. You will find a contact form which you can use to ask specific questions like that. I seem to recall seeing, maybe on another forum, that somebody had asked a very similar question and got a positive reply.[/quote]

As Will says, we have done this one to death on several occasions - I think the definitive thread is:


Picking a couple of items from that thread :

The document:


covers the situation - the particular part being Section II A:

" Determining whether Member States are entitled to tax cars.


Community law stands at present, Member States have wide discretion

over maintaining or introducing taxes on cars. The decision as to which

cars are liable for national tax is generally linked to vehicle

registration. In a communication of 15 May 1996, the Commission observed

that an individual cannot be allowed to register his vehicle in the

Member State of his choice as this would mean that all vehicles would

be registered in the Member State with the lowest tax rates. At the

time the Commission confirmed the principle that every individual must

register his vehicle in the Member State in which he is normally


In most cases it is easy to determine the normal place

of residence. Article 7 of Directive 83/182/EC10 sets out precise rules

for determining normal residence in situations where the persons

concerned are temporarily living and driving in a Member State other

than their own. However, as the Commission points out, Court case law

holds that the quantitative criterion to which this particular Article refers

(having to live more than 185 days per year in a given place) cannot be

taken as the main criterion if there are other factors which alter the

situation. Nevertheless the Commission considers defensible the

argument whereby, if a resident of one Member State keeps a car which is

used fairly regularly at a place in another Member State where he has

his second residence, that car should be registered in the second Member

This approach is also justified in other contexts, e.g. for the purposes of vehicle testing."

The original document gives references to back up each of the points above.

I raised a query via the "Your Europe" website:


"Enquiry posted on



80831: My enquiry concerns where I am required to register a vehicle.

I reside in the UK and have a holiday home in France.

I have two cars: one is registered in the UK and is my usual means of transport.

The second is permanently based in France, registered in France at my

holiday home's address.

It would appear from the

documentation on the "your Europe" site that I can ONLY register a

vehicle at my main residence - ie in the UK. Is this correct? If this is

the case, then:

1) I must re-register my French-registered second car in the UK

2) I cannot leave my second car in France for more than 6 months if it is UK-registered.

Is your site's guidance wrong or just incomplete?


Thank you for your enquiry.

Please note that the information contained on Your Europe reflects the

situation for the large majority of EU citizens who live solely in one

country. The purpose of Your Europe Advice is, amongst others, to be

able to provide citizens with more specific information in more

complicated situations such as yours.

You should know that

the rules on vehicle registration remain by and large governed by

national law and are not regulated by EU legislation.

Generally speaking, you need to register your car where you reside.

Nevertheless it is considered justifiable that, if a resident of one

Member State keeps a car which is used fairly regularly at a place in

another Member State where he has a secondary residence, that car should

be registered in the second Member State. That would be the case for

instance if you were to own one car kept at your home in the UK and one

car kept at your holiday home in France.

You can find out more here:


We therefore consider that you must be able to register your car at your holiday home if the car is to remain there.

We remain at your disposal, should you require further information.

We hope this answers your query.

Yours sincerely,

Your Europe Advice"

Ernie contacted SOLVIT with respect to the business of the prohibition on a UK resident driving a foreign-registered car in the UK and received this:

"Dear Mr ******,

Thank you for contacting SOLVIT.


to EU legislation, vehicles have to be registered in the country where

the owner is resident.  More information on this can be found on the

following website: 



clarified this with the DVLA, who informed me that a UK resident with a

car at their holiday home would have to register that car in the UK if

they are using it in the UK.

Vehicles which are registered

elsewhere in the EU and brought into the UK will be allowed to circulate

freely for six months in any 12 month period without the need to

register here, provided the vehicle complies with the requirements of

its home country.

However, where the keeper of the vehicle is or

becomes resident in this country, the vehicle must be immediately

registered and licensed here unless he/she is employed or self-employed

in another Member State and uses a company car temporarily in the UK for

business purposes.

This would seem to comply with the information on the Direct.gov.uk website.


can help with any misapplications of EU law by public authorities. If

you have experienced a specific problem with authorities which are

misapplying these rules, we may be able to help. Otherwise, I would

suggest that you seek any further clarification from the DVLA.

Best regards,


that tells us nothing we didn't know other than clearly stating that if

DVLA do have a policy of allowing some ill defined temporary use of a

foreign registered car then it will be they who will be misapplying EU


Coops, the well-known barrack-room lawyer, tried to throw one more spanner in the works by asking about leased cars:

[quote user="Pickles"][quote user="cooperlola"][quote user="Pickles"]So, at present it appears that;

4) As a UK resident you cannot drive a French-registered car in the UK (especially your own French holiday-home-based car), unless it has been hired to you (either by a company based outside the UK

or it is hired to you from the UK to return it to France), or it is

your company car from a company based outside the UK and which spends

most of its time outside the UK. This is a matter of prevention of tax

avoidance and NOT an insurance issue.[/quote]

Question - as a UK resident, if you lease a car in France for your holiday home, could you then drive it in the UK?

I am not trying to tie you in knots, Pickles, merely trying to find a way for people to do this legally.[/quote]


was expecting someone to pick up on this ... and this is in fact an

area in which the European Court has actually ruled. The case is

C-451/99 and known as the Cura Anlagen case. The case is well summarised

below in this quotation from the FIA

"The European Court of Justice already considered the tax treatment of

vehicles rented and registered in one Member State which are in fact

used by the lessee in another Member State, where the lessee is

resident. In its judgment in case C-451/99

("Cura Anlagen"), the Court took the view that an obligation to

register the vehicle in the Member State of residence does not breach,

per se, the provisions on freedom to provide services. However, the

vehicle user must be granted a period of time within which to register

the vehicle in the Member State of residence which is not so short as to

be considered an unjustified obstacle to that freedom (in that case, a

period of three days was considered as contrary to the EC Treaty freedom

rules). The Court also considered that, in order to comply with the

provisions of the Treaty, the imposition of a registration tax on the

leased vehicle in the Member State of residence must be proportionate to

the period during which the vehicle will be registered and used in that

Member State of residence."

Note that this long-term leasing is

considered to be different to a short-term rental of eg a French hire

car in France to drive back to the UK, or the allocation of a

French-registered hire car which has ended up in the UK at the end of a

hire to a UK-resident customer who will be taking it back abroad.


back to the long-term lease: here now lies the problem: the EU ruling

implies a period of grace to allow registration (which might also

effectively allow temporary importation), which is entirely at odds with

the UK government's requirement that the car be re-registered

immediately on entry to the UK. Anyone for a test case?[/quote]

I hope that this summarises the position.



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Sara you seem unable or unwilling to grasp the point that regardless of whether your Bacchus car insurance is valid or not it is an indisputable fact that whilst your cars remain UK registered they are not legally present in the country and as a French resident neither are you permitted to drive them.

I will repeat my earlier post for you:

1. French

residents are not permitted to drive foreign registered vehicles. There

are some limited exceptions to this rule but a car owned by you will

not fall under them.

2. As a French resident you are required to register your car in a timely manner, nominally within one month of arrival.

3. A foreign registered car is only permitted to circulate in the country for 6 months in any 12.

Note I make no mention of insurance however I will leave it to you to contemplate the potential consequences of being involved in an accident whilst driving a car whilst simultaneously flaunting all three of the above - even if your tyres were not bald [:D]

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Never mind quoting all the EU regulations, the definitive law is that of France, ie the Code de la Route.

If you live in France and drive a car or tow a trailer then article R322-1 of the code applies to you:

Tout propriétaire d'un véhicule à moteur, d'une remorque dont le poids total autorisé en charge est supérieur à 500 kilogrammes ou d'une semi-remorque, qui souhaite le mettre en circulation pour la première fois, doit adresser au préfet du département de son domicile une demande de certificat d'immatriculation en justifiant de son identité et "de" son domicile.
Le fait, pour tout propriétaire, de mettre en circulation un véhicule sans avoir obtenu un certificat d'immatriculation est puni de l'amende prévue pour les contraventions de la quatrième classe.

So, if you wish to drive your car in France, you must apply for a registration certificate.  Failure to do so leaves you liable to a class four fine (135€).

Everyone who owns a motor vehicle which is being driven on the roads must be held accountable for any breach of the law and consequent damages caused by its use and therefore must register themselves as the person responsible so that any such breach can be enforced against them.  Anyone who imagines in their wildest dreams that it's just fine to drive around in an unregistered vehicle is clearly totally ignorant of the law and demonstrates that they hold their obligations to society in contempt.


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Pickles - Thanks for the information. I was sure that this specific point had been raised before among the myriad of topics about vehicle registration and insurance. And you were the person who knew.

SD - I quite agree with your point about the French Code de la Route providing the definitive legislation. However, the point under discussion was that an 'old' French law had allegedly been rendered invalid by a piece of EU law that nobody, save an agent in France for a UK insurer, seemed to be able to find.

It still mystifies me why people who want to live in France seem to have so much difficulty accepting French law and French practice. Frankly, to say that you, as a French resident, insure your vehicle with a UK insurer because you have had a bad experience with the French system, doesn't add up for me (sorry if I have misunderstood, but that is how I read it). After all, I have had a bad experience with the French tax people, but that didn't absolve me from subsequently paying taxes in France - I couldn't opt to pay in England instead even though we are all in the EU.

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Perhaps a point to think of. These people who live in France now and do not register for tax purposes either income tax or registration of vehicles I suspect would be the first people when they lived in UK to complain about non compliant immigrants !!! Are we not immigrants to France ? I hate the expat cover for everything ! An expat as a term used for UK citizens who work temporarily abroad.

You are an immigrant to France so comply with the law of the country you have chosen.
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Pickles, that is immensely helpful.  Thank you so much for going to all that trouble.  [:)]

Repulse, I've said the same more than once on forums and been shot down for suggesting that British residents in France are immigrants....

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