Buying car or motorcycle in France

Is it possible to buy a car or a motorcycle and register and insure it in France if you are not resident if you have a French holiday home?

What are the requirements?

I have heard horror stories that if you buy a car and register it suddenly you might be considered as resident in France and having to pay French tax even if you dont live in France.

Whats the deal?

ANTS is the government Agency that is charged with administering licences. They say you can as long as you can show evidence of your identity, and your address. This is what they say

Je vis à l’étranger. Je voudrais immatriculer un véhicule et le laisser en France pour mes vacances. Quel justificatif de domicile fournir ?

Conformément aux dispositions du code de la route (article R322-1), tout propriétaire d’un véhicule qui souhaite le faire circuler sur la voie publique en France, doit adresser une demande d’immatriculation au préfet du département de son choix en justifiant de son identité et de son domicile en France.
Vous devez, par conséquent, justifier d’un domicile ou élire domicile chez un tiers.

Dans cette dernière situation, la réalité de la résidence du demandeur au domicile de l’hébergeant doit être avérée par un document officiel (feuille d’imposition, carte de sécurité sociale, titre d’allocations familiales, document du Pôle

En dehors de ces cas, l’immatriculation de votre véhicule ne pourra être effectuée”

How you do it is another matter, as I don’t know how you can register on the ANTS site as a non resident…but @Mark_Rimmer will!

Just to clarify… a holiday home doesn’t count as domicile…

le domicile est le lieu où une personne situe le siège de sa vie sociale, l’endroit où chacun peut chercher à le joindre.

The French government, in common with many countries, does not want tourists to buy & own cars that are left here after use. Owning property does not bestow extra rights on an individual over & above those who rent, stay in a hotel or live in a tent as all of the above can indeed be the “domicile” (principal residence) of a bona fide french resident.
In the past there has been discussion about what “domicile” actually means, usually from holiday home owners who really want it to refer simply to a house that they stay in occasionally & they usually then quote from all sorts of legal dictionaries to justify their interpretation.
It is simpler to look at the EU documents on the subject as they are quite clear -

1, Anyone registering a car in France needs to provide proof of “domicile”. If your address was required the request would be for proof of “addresse”.

2, The ANTS system does not permit those not on a government database (income tax, health service or social security) to complete a vehicle registration.

3, The french system states “The document [carte grise] must indicate the address of the principal residence of the holder. This means that you cannot register your vehicle in the département [or country] where you have a secondary residence”.

4, EU regulations state " Every individual must register his vehicle in the Member State in which he is normally resident"

5, Also from the EU’s Q & A section on the subject -

  • I am Italian [British works as well] and every year I take a 3-month holiday in my second home in the French Alps, travelling by car. Can I register my car in France?

NO — You can only register your car in the country where you are permanently resident.

3, 4 & 5 are direct quotes from the government/EU websites.

My personal opinion is that if the sources state that you must register your car in the country where you are permanently resident then that is where you must register your car.

This is made a lot easier now as the online system checks the INSEE database (like the UK Electorial Role) to confirm domicile & will not allow an application if the details are not there.
In this instance (new arrivals) a third party can apply for you but they in turn have to make a declaration that the details are correct -
“Rimmer Mark certifies on his or her honour that he or she has ensured that [the named applicant] is domiciled at the new address and undertakes to make available, on request from the services of the Ministry of the Interior, any document proving this”
and
“I am aware that “false declarations and the use of false declarations are punishable by 3 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros”, Article 441-1 of the Criminal Code. I certify in particular that the information provided concerning the ownership of the vehicle is accurate.”

It might never happen, but it might!

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That’s clear Mark, but why does the ANTS site then give a strong suggestion that you can register at a friends’ address for example if they provide some proof? They are really encouraging people to do it this way…

It would be better if they said “NO, people who are not fiscally resident can’t register a car unless…etc”

Can’t see any reference to using a friend’s address?

Why are governments making this a problem?

“la réalité de la résidence du demandeur au domicile de l’hébergeant doit être avérée”

It refers to host. That may be a friend but it is more likely to mean landlord, hotel owner, campsite owner, port captain etc.

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But we know people interpret it otherwise by the number of UK owned second homes where there is a french reg car.

I’m not saying this is right, just that it happens.

It’s simple. They don’t “interpret”, they lie.
This is done mostly because it suits them.
Most of the time it is not an issue as no-one will normally have a reason to question the legitimacy of a situation until one day a serious incident occurs. As a fellow road user it just might involve me & I would be seriously upset to have to pay for my own wheelchair & live on benefits for the rest of my life because someone felt that they could do what they wanted.
Fortunately the new system, when used correctly, will weed out the fraudsters & may well put the dodgy ones behind bars.

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That’s how I feel about the cars on UK plates with no MOT/insurance. So the only positive of Brexit is that it might finally weed them out too…

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Seconded, jjones and mark :wink:

I had reason to look at the carte gris for my car tonight…only to find I re-registered it here two years before I became a permanent resident. I have absolutely no recollection of it being an issue that I was not resident in terms of what I needed to provide! Or indeed anyone asking me whether I was or wasn’t!

So, were you driving it back and forth between countries… or leaving it in France, while you went elsewhere…

I left it here. I was in the UK looking after my mother, and popped back here for a few days every few weeks and needed to have a car here.

It was quite a few years ago, so maybe rules were different but I can’t remember even thinking about whether my residential status mattered.

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Very interesting.
Back to the OPs question, is it not possible to buy and register a vehicle in France as a non-resident? What are people with holiday homes doing for transportation if they are staying the full 90 days at a time?
I too am curious because I am purchasing a vacation home that needs some fixing up and was planning to buy something like a used Berlingo or Kangoo to haul supplies in.
Is the EU law saying I should buy it then register it in the US, then get French liability insurance on it? Or is the law aimed at keeping citizens of one EU country from registering their vehicles in another (possibly cheaper) EU country, and non-EU citizens are another matter completely?

The subject of Registration has been chewed over and the wording of the government site meticulously inspected and translated.

the nub of the matter is “domicile”… where the person is domiciled… “the address”

The address given at the time of registering the vehicle appears on the registration document (carte grise).
It is meant to be the address to which all or any manner of legal stuff can be deliverd by the postman or the bailiff etc … and also the address at which the gendarmes can expect to find the person named on the carte grise.

Mark’s post above is quite clear:

“The french system states “The document [carte grise] must indicate the address of the principal residence of the holder. This means that you cannot register your vehicle in the département [or country] where you have a secondary residence”.”

However I wonder whether the same applies to Non-Europeans? After all it became clear with all the mess about swapping UK licences that Europeans can only hold a driving licence issued in one member state, but non-europeans can take a driving test in France.

Why not rent a van as and when you need it… they’re cheap enough from the local big stores…

American friends lease a vehicle for their annual 90-day stay here… they find it economical.

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