Buying a car in France

Hi all! I need advice - I’m about to purchase an ancient car for scooting around the P-O in. Does anyone (and I’m sure there is someone…) know what I need to get from the previous owner to ensure registration goes smoothly? Who do I need to bring what to and by when? Any advice on vehicle insurance?


Hi all,

Just thought I’d follow up on this to help the next newbie:

  1. The seller’s insurance was valid until midnight the day I bought it. My insurance required the carte gris, so I was not insured until I brought in the carte gris, along with the controle technique, the seller’s contract, my driver’s license, and a wad of cash.
  2. As for registration, that has to be done within a month of purchase, and requires the filling of a “demande de certificat d’immatriculation d’un vehicule”, an ID card, proof of domicile (bill from the gas, electricity or telephone companies), the carte gris (with two bars through it, signed and stating “vendu le xx/xx/xx”, a certificate of sale (or bill), and the controle technique. And another wad of cash. This I should have brought to the Prefecture, but in my town, the Mairie has agreed to take it over, so I can bring all the stuff there, instead. It takes about 2 weeks.

All done!


:wink: Thanks again, all… will let you know how it goes. Now I’m rather nervous…

Yes and no Bob - it depends on the insurance company, 14 days a month even 6 weeks BUT once the owner has sold the car common sense/prudence means it’s up to you to insure it - I’ve bought and sold a number of times here too and I wouldn’t have let the new owner claim on my old insurance and ruin my no-claims bonus. the person and car are only insured with your agreement! We’re all responsable adults - you buy a car - you insure it before driving it away if you want peace of mind. All part of the system - yes, as long as the owner gives you permission to drive the car BUT on the insurance certificate he’s the owner… once he’s no longer the owner he can’t give you permission to drive something that’s no longer technically his/hers… In my opinion there are too many possible insurance get out clauses - you’re going to insure the car anyway so why not from the moment you buy it. the cover isn’t always the same either for another driver and differs from one insurance company to another.

Personally - “better safe than sorry” :wink:

OK the CT can be no MORE than 6 months old for the new owner to be able to register it, ie if its a VAN you only have 12 months between visits even though one is only an emission check, hence the 6 month old rather than 18 months left rule.

When the seller hands over the Carte Gris if he has any sense he will sign, date and TIME the CG so if you get stopped on the way home its on your tab not his, so you wont be able to get away with using his insurance.

Make sure you fill 3 copies of the cessation fiche (free on line) one for him, one for you, one for the prefecture easy to fill in on line then print off. Certificate de non gage if you think there may be finance owing or traffic infringements against the motor (free on line)dont buy it unless this comes back clear.

My insurance company Groupama cancels the policy when I tell them and I would never let someone I dont know drive on my insurance anyway, it takes too long to re build your no claims. Also not all insurances cover you ‘any driver’ any more. You need insurance before you collect it.

Groupama allow me to keep both motors on the same policy for up to 6 weeks to allow me to sell the old one, not to allow some person they have no record on to drive it about until they get insured.

I would always insure a new car before collection

I think what the above state is that we all have a slightly different opinion of whats the right and the wrong in car purchase. Personally if I was not sure I would go to the insurance co and ask what the procedure is for the whole process.If they wont tell you go to a different insurance office.

But it is really quite a simple process if you follow the rules an hour should see you with a temporary Carte Gris and new reg number if the car was on the old style when you bought it

Good luck

You guys are great - thanks so much! I got 2 - 3 insurance ‘offers’ last night on the internet, and will follow up with a few more today, as it seems I should shop around a bit.
Another question - he said to get the car registered at the Mairie, but the online recommendations mention the Prefecture (we have a sub-Prefecture here) - which is it?


My understanding is that you are right Bob - even if you cancel the insurance on the day of the sale it runs till midnight that day, giving the purchaser time to get home. Whether this is a good thing or not is a whole other topic…!!

Never heard about the 14 day rule though? You learn something new everyday on SFN :slight_smile:

Whenever we have bought cars, I’ve insured them before we collect them, very easy to organise you just need to ask for a copy of the CT as that will contain all the info your insurers require.

I believe you are wrong about the insurance. Here is different to the UK in that the car is insured rather than the driver. When you buy a car anyone can legally drive on the sellers insurance to get it home.
I have sold two cars and two motorbikes here and with all of them my insurance agent told me that even when I insured replacements, the old car was still covered for 14 days from the date of sale to allow the buyer time to get his own insurance - it is all part of the system.

Thanks again! Wow…

The car needs to be insured before you drive it away, or from the moment you hand over the money and drive it away (as in the UK or any other country). you have two choices - go into your local groupama, macif, axa or other insurance agents or look on the internet - idmacif and assurance direct are both good plus there are lots of search engines to find you the best deal.

I forgot to mention the contrôle technique - cars over 4 years old have to have a CT which lasts 2 years. a car has to have at least 6 months CT left when sold.

more info:

bonne chance !

Oup - never bought a car in the UK, but DO understand that there should be a lot of documents, in any case :slight_smile: Million thanks - will just take this list with me to the vendor and see what he has on file…

Anything regarding the insurance, by the way??? His ends when he sells it, but how long do I have to find some for myself? Any recommendations?



There’s a bit more to do than in the UK, it’s not complicated just more documents - the following link should help :