Bureaucrasy is driving me mad!

Having found a possible problem with using your UK licence in the UK & as yet having not received a sensible answer from the DVLA I seem to have come across another anomily only on this side of the Channel!

I have over the years imported a few cars myself & have assisted others through this usually fairly easy process. I did have a problem a few years ago when re-importing a once French car. The previous owner, having lost the logbook, had applied for a new logbook from the DVLA informing them that both he & the car were now in France. The DVLA, being unable to supply a logbook with a foreign address on it sent him an export certificate. This contains most of the pertinent information about the vehicle & indeed the paragraph at the top reads "The details set out below are taken from the records held by the Secretary of State for the Department of Transport to whom the registation document has been surrendered. This certificate is given as proof thatthe registration details as set out below are correct. It is issued when a vehicle is exported from Great Britain for 12 months or more & it should be used to re-register the vehicle with the new licensing authority"

Although written in english it seems clear enough & to me fits the requirements of the French government site which among other things asks for "Previous registration certificate of the vehicle
(if the document has been preserved by the administrative authorities of the foreign country, you must provide an official document certifying that the certificate was revoked or an international certificate issued by the authorities of the foreign country)"
- translation by google.

My reading of the above tells me that the export certificate IS such a document!

Another document which is required is a quitus fiscal. This is obtained from some regional Tresor Public offices (in your department) & requires one to produce the old logbook or, one would assume, an official document etc. This presented a problem a few years ago & required the presence of a fluent & tactful french speaker to persuade the clerk to ask someone else if the export certificate was acceptable. It was & I went on to re-register the car.

This week I have been guiding someone else through the procedure. The man bought a house here & found a UK reg 2005 Renault in the barn which he found was included in the sale - the female seller was happy to see the back of what used to be her husband's car! Informing the DVLA of the circumstances resulted in an export certificate being issued. I did not get involved until after this was done, however, having managed to do it a few years earlier I assumed that by now most Tresor Public offices would be up to speed with the paperwork. WRONG!! A visit to the Barbezieux office yesterday morning did not go well with an official adamant that only a logbook was acceptable. Even on being informed that the office in Riberac would accept the export certificate ( my man had tried to get one there but Riberac is not in his department) he went to check only to return with the same denial. At this point I broke my own rule & lost my temper, storming out & informing the official that we were going to Angouleme!

The regional office there would not issue the quitus, referring us back to Barbezieux, but did agree that the export certificate is acceptable! We were even given the details of the man the official in Barbezieux could ring to confirm, so back we went. After apologising for my earlier outburst I gave the official the details of the man to call. Whether he made the call I have no idea but we were now being told that we needed both the car's logbook AND the export certificate in order to get this tax form! We were even shown an example! It is possible to end up with both but only if you have a V5C, keep the front half, return the export slip AND ask for an export certificate to be issued. All this is not necessary!

My poor man cannot now apply for a logbook so we are stuck with the task of trying to convince the official to look at the procedure more closely.

Is there an ombudsman or even a Euro MP that we can seek clarification with? It is just bizarre that staff can interpret things so differently!

Thanks for that Mark. Good luck with the registration.

John, the problem is that some tresor public offices DO recognise the export certificate. Its the inconsistancy of bureaucrats which I find infuriating! As my friend has a brother living in the Dordogne close to the Riberac office which WILL accept the certificate, we will write an attestation stating that my friend is currently living there (true, as he is helping with building work & sleeping there) thus giving us the last document we need. After a short while he can then move back to his own house in the Charente as changing an address is not charged.

With regard to your Mini it might be worth doing another vehicle enquiry on the DVLA site as even if it has been exported or is on a sorn it is usually kept on. With regard to the certificate of conformity the car is too old. Contact the FFVE http://www.ffve.org/ who, for a small fee, will provide you with the neccessary paperwork.

Exactly my point Mark, it maybe a DVLA problem. Do that have the "right" to issue a document that is not acceptable to the French authorities? I've actually a similar problem brewing. Six years ago in a weak moment I bought a 1970 rally prepared 1293 Mini with a view to doing a few events. I discovered quickly that I was past it so she stayed in my garage gathering dust until I drove her down here last autumn (and that was some trip). I have the V5C but she has been out of the UK for six years so it is of dubious validity. When I check her registration on the DVLA site nothing comes up! I need to work on the certificate of conformity first and then I'll venture into the Hotel des Impots but it'll all be an interesting challenge I'm sure.

Hi John,

Having also imported cars from abroad including the USA I am with you on that but if you buy a UK car which is already here & the V5 has been lost then DVLA cannot supply one to a French resident. They then give you only the export certificate. T o get a V5C in your name means that you have to give them a UK address as it only refers to a registered keeper, but if you have already told them that the car & the keeper is a french resident they cannot issue a new document. It has to be an export certificate. This clearly states that "..it should be used to re-register the vehicle with the new licensing authority." The problem is that the new authority is telling me different stories - one will accept the form but another will not, although head office has told them both the same story. If The V5C was present it would be easy. I have imported a car before with just the export certificate, but in a different department.


Maybe he's right Mark. I have imported three cars to France. One from Ireland, one from Germany and one from that UK. None of them had an "export certificate". To import into France you just need the registration document and proof of VAT paid. Very simple. It sounds like a DVLA problem to me.

The tax people don't care about log books or any of that stuff. All the want is an invoice showing vat has been paid on the car in the uK.

The other thing we needed for the quittus fiscal when we imported a Golf from the Netherlands was the invoice from the seller with our names on it, and all the other bits of paper already mentioned, including a notarised copy of the dog licence - well not really but it felt like it!

Tried that, Brian, downloaded the instructions from the Service-Public.fr website, made photocopies & underlined the bit about registation documents - my problem is the official's refusal to accept the export certificate for what it is, insisting that it merely allowed temporary use of a foreign car on French roads! It was when I was called a liar that I lost it, though, by which time it was obvious that he was not going to admit to being wrong.

I have taken Keith's advice & contacted EC solvit & have already received a reply.

Excellent tactics!

At the same time, just about everything you need is available to download. Find every necessary law and decree, print them out and learn just what each is for and by number. Go into any public office and as soon as the slightest inventiveness or hesitance occurs, say loi XXX, open your folder and flick through, then read to functionary. If he or she progresses to a second mistake, repeat process. From then on you probably have roughly five minutes until you leave the office in possession of what you went in for.

ex-pats should be aware that what the French fonctionaire does not know, they will invent. Faced with something they do not understand, instead of saying "I don't know but I'll find out." they will invent all sorts of different rules. "We need a certificate to confirm the colour of your Grandmother's socks.". "We need a translation of your carte de sejours."
The French fonctionaire doesn't like to admit lack of knowledge of a subject. A good example was when I received my certificate of handicap. I asked the secretary of our local mairie what it meant, and she told me that I was guaranteed a seat on a bus or train. Three times I asked her if that was all and three times she replied "Yes". When I presented her with three pages of benefits, she replied "yes, that as well"

Why not try the Marie

OOOOOOOH I know this so well!!!

I arrived in France witha little Mazda, bought in England from a German and on German plates. I had my birth certificate in my maiden name, my marriage certificate in another and my passport in another(divorce and remarriage just before we came over) Took it all into our lcal office spread it all out,explained it all, the guy looked at me looked at the mass of papers I smiled sweetly and he stamped everything in sight as he said "I dont understand it is too complex, go away"!!!!BUT i had my stamp!!!!

Thanks, Ben, but the UK version of the carte grise is what we old fogeys refer to as the logbook - it's the V5C.

If one does not have this the french website covers this by stating that a certificate in lieu is acceptable & as it states that the export certificate has been issued because the V5C has been surrendered.

A rock & a hard place.

Maybe I'm totally wrong, but I never heard of a logbook to be submitted to obtain the quitus fiscal. As far as I know you'll need

- certificat de cession (13754-02) signed by both seller and buyer

- the uk version of the original carte grise i.e. registration papers

- proof that the car has been removed from the UK registrations

- certificat of conformity

- identity card

- proof of living in France

(Might also be a good thing to get the export document officially translated)

You could still point the guy in Barbezieux to the corresponding info on the service-public site?