Importing a Vehicle

Importing a vehicle into France can be a fairly straightforward procedure, particularly if you have new or nearly new unmodified car. However the process is time consuming as you need several different documents. Problems can arise when you have an older vehicle or a vehicle that has been modified in any way. Vans, camper van and caravans can also be problem.

You will need to ensure that your headlights have been modified to driving on the left and that your vehicle conforms to french standards.

Headlights: Try local scrap dealers or forums to see if you can find left hand drive headlights. A new set can be costly particularly from dealerships.

Control Technique: This is the French equivalent of an MOT. It is usually valid for 2 years. If your vehicle fails for any reason you have 2 months to rectify any problems. There is a small re-test fee, but you are only checked on the points that failed. If you go back after the 2 months you will have to pay for a full re-test to be completed. The cost depends on your vehicle (whether it is petrol or diesel).

Certificate of Conformity: This is a certificate from the manufactures stating that the vehicle meets French road safety standards. You will need proof that the headlights have been changed. A garage receipt is usually sufficient as proof of adaptation. A control technique will also be taken as proof. The cost of this certificate varies depending on the manufacture, but expect to pay around 200€. Provided you have no modifications to your vehicle you should receive a full certificate of conformity. Vans, camper vans and vehicles with any sort of modification will only receive a partial certificate of conformity.The certificate will highlight the factors causing concern. In this instance the vehicle will need to go to the Drire for checking. They will check all the concerns raised by the certificate. Again there is a fee for this. Expect to pay around 90€. Once the Drire have been satisfied you will be issued with a full certificate of conformity. You can still drive your vehicle during this process.

Certificat de régularité fiscale: One final document you will need is a certificate from your local Hotel d'Impôt (Tax office) showing that there is no VAT payable on the vehicle when it is imported. "certificat de régularité fiscale". Provided the vehicle is being imported from an EU state there will be no VAt due. Vehicles imported from outside of Europe will be assessed and a valuation given for the time of import. The tax due is about 30% of the vehicles value. You will need your Uk registration documents and bill of sale/receipt from when you purchased the vehicle. Don't forget to also take your passport and proof of residence (utility bill). There is normally no charge for this certificate.

Once you have all the paperwork in place you need to take it along to the Prefecture in order to obtain your Carte Gris. You will also need to take:

At the Prefecture you will be required to complete 2 forms. These can be downloaded from the government site. One to request the carte gris,"demande de certificat d'immatriculation" and the 2nd to prove your identity. Once all this has been completed you can get your carte gris and french plates. The cost of the carte gris will depend on the engine size and age of your vehicle.

Once you have received your carte gris you can get your immatraculation plates made up. It is now legal to have a white rear number plate, so don't panic if you are given 2 white plates. Note that the plates MUST be riveted onto the vehicle as a requirement by law. You should be given the rivets with your new number plates.

Useful links:


Trailers with a laden weight of 750kg or higher,or braked trailers and horse boxes, and caravans all need to have a "carte gris". Trailers in this category are given their own immatraculation and must have separate insurance. This is to be displayed on the towing vehicle.

Camper vans are licensed depending on the number of beds and the number of passengers they can legally carry. These 2 figures may not necessarily be the same. Camper vans will also need to be checked by the Drire for modifications carried out to the inside and for safety of gas fittings.



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