Jump to content
Complete France Forum

Wanted: An Idiot's Guide to...


Recommended Posts

...Switching to a French Driving Licence please.

I have searched various websites to try and glean the information I need, but I am still a bit 'wooly' on a few things.

Can I exchange my UK licence at a Sous-Préfecture, or does it have to be at a main Préfecture?

Regarding documentation, I guess they will want my life history, do I photocopy the documents or do they photocopy them?

I am guessing that they will want:


Current Driving Licence (paper and card)

Utility Bill(s)?

Taxe Habitation or Foncier

Photographs, how many?

Name of my first pet

Anything I have missed?

I have read in an old post on this forum that some authorities are insisting that my UK driving licence has to be translated and verified in French, can anybody confirm this please.

My licence expires 7th August, so how far in advance can I renew to a French licence.

Will they do it there and then, or will I have to provide them with a self-addressed envelope? If so what size?

I guess that will do for starters, any help with the above most gratefully received.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is one of the many things that varies from one dept. to another. Some even ask for money [:'(]

The one thing that stays the same (I think) is the form you have to fill in. Perhaps someone will give a link for this.

I suggest you go to your nearest prefecture, or sub, and ask what they need.

When I changed mine I got my french one the same day, but I don't think you can do this anywhere now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now why didn't I think of that idun?[+o(]

Yep it's lists everything they require you to present, and by my reckoning I don't need to get my UK licence translated, only if you are from outside the EU. Can't get the link to work that they provide to print off the form, asking for a password to access the page, I will call in next week and pick up a form from the sous préfecture in Bressuire.

Thank you both for your replies, it doesn't look as daunting as I first thought (famous last words!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I exchanged mine in Deux-Sèvres, at the Prefecture in Niort (because that was closest).

You can probably get the form at your local Mairie; they seem to keep stocks of all the forms. Also the secretary at your mairie may be willing to check your bundle of documents before you traipse off to the Prefecture; mine did.

There was no charge for my exchange licence.

You can exchange your UK licence at any time, no need to wait for it to reach its UK renewal date; I think the earlier you do it the better as it gives you more time to sort out any problems,if there are any (very straightforward for me).

I took copies of everything so that they didn't have to do any copying on the day and I provided a standard stamped addressed envelope for them to send my new licence (not a long envelope, just the small "nearly square" one!

The staff at the counter were very helpful and the new licence arrived in less than a week. For the intervening period you are issued with a certificate of entitlement for your vehicle categories in case you need to produce it for document checks by the Gendarmes etc.

You can download the form here http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/particuliers/R31381.xhtml  (click on "Accéder au formulaire").

 The list of necessary documents to be produced is here http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/F1758.xhtml#N10163 (under "pièces à fournir").

I think you'll find it's dead easy!  [Www]

EDIT:  Inside the building at Niort there is a separate office for driving licences; don't take a ticket and be waiting in the general area for vehicle licences, you'll be there ages!

ANOTHER EDIT!  Take copies for yourself of your UK licence and paper counterpart (assuming it's a plastic one your exchanging; you'll have to hand over your UK licence and that's the last you'll see of it. In case of a problem with category entitlement it's as well to have a copy of what you are currently entitled to.

This business of copying stuff applies to EVERYTHING in France!! Never submit a form without having copied it! [geek] 



Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you're female AND married (or widowed presumably?).  [;-)]

My wife still has her UK paper licence so we didn't check the female requirements; it's odd that the marriage certificate is not shown on the government list. [blink]  I presume you went through all this in Poitiers, Bugsy?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Right, that rang a bell.

I registered my (our!!) new car in both names (in case I snuff it [:-))] - saves a lot of hassle about ownership)  but I had to provide a copy of our marriage certificate for that, and the resulting certificat d'immatriculation shows my wife's maiden name.

Presumably the driving licence is similar?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
Firstly, thanks a lot for your reply sid, I found the info supplied most helpful.

Well I braved the Sous-Prefecture in Bressuire this week to attempt to replace my UK licence, the lady behind the desk was very official but reasonably friendly. Expecting the worse I was pleasantly surprised how well things appear to have gone. I went armed with all the documents demanded from the Deux-Sèvres Prefecture's website, I also had a 500-year history of my family tree and the name of my first pet ready, Billy the budgie, but no she only asked for the documents from the list.[:-))]

So, if anybody calls this thread up in the future, seeking the information I was looking for, and if you live in Deux-Sèvres this is what you will need:

Completed and signed CERFA 11247-02 (Réf4) form.

Photocopy of the picture page of your passport.

Original driving licence (paper and card). No French translation needed.

Photocopy of an up-to-date utility bill.

2 Passport photos

Self addressed Lettre Max envelope 20 grams.

Cheque for 25 euros made payable to Tresor Public.

That was it, I was issued with a temporary licence dated until 2nd January 2014! She did tell me whilst smiling profusely that the new licence will take a long time to arrive, and whilst the temporary licence is valid in France, it is not valid in the UK. Not sure if this is true, if this the case I am none to happy, although I have no desire to return to the UK anytime soon, but if a family crisis were to arise I guess I could not take my car back to the UK with me.

Can anyone confirm if the temporary licence is only valid in France and not the UK please.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well done!  [:)]

I'm surprised about the 25€, I can't help you with the UK validity, sorry, but my licence arrived very quickly... within a few days. I find the French licence to be an awkward size and I haven't found a suitable wallet for it yet with the result that it now looks very dog-eared and tatty. hopefully the new plastic credit card sized one will solve this problem for me... whenever that is available.

Just found this:     http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/vehicles/driving/validity/resident_en.htm   According to this link certificates issued in one country are not valid in another.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

That seems pretty conclusive sid from the link you provided, definitely says that certificates issued by one country are not valid in another country.[:(] I guess you were the lucky one receiving your licence within a few days.

Wilko even by French bureaucratic standards waiting for over 6 months is somewhat stretching it, hope your certificate is still valid.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Grecian, please let us know when you get your new licence. I can only say that I was impressed with the speed.

I had a similar experience with obtaining an International Driving Permit which was required for a USA trip. That came in two days! Mind you, for both of these I went to the Prefecture in Niort; perhaps that makes a difference?

Bonne route!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
To say "thank you" for posting all this information. My photocard expires at the end of the year and whilst my licence doesn't actually expire for several years after that, it seems timely to bite the bullet and get a French one. So big thanks for everyone who's taken the time and trouble to write all this down.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="Bugsy"]We did indeed - two journeys. Its all to do with 'maiden name', we were told.[/quote]

Bugsy, I  had to use my maiden name a lot in France, and often followed by 'epouse M Idun'. Lots of forms require one's name and one's name is actually, according to the french, the name on the birth certificate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...
Thanks Grecian, can you update on when your new licence arrives so I have an idea of timing? OK, off to download those forms, get a copy of everything needed and traipse off to the Prefecture.

Separately, does anybody know what the vehicle classifications on the licence are, when on the French licence? Hubby and I both have full motorcycle licences and want to ensure these are carried over ... a friend who transferred to a French licence found his new licence 'lost' his HGV entitlement and he had trouble getting this restored. Or are they the same classifications?

EDIT: Found them on DVLA website!

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...