Buying first French car

Hi, just after a little advice please.
going to buy a French registered car from a friend who is leaving back for the uk.
its our first car in france.
we have cars in the UK that we use for work etc on a weekly basis.
can I buy, register, insure and drive the car on my UK licence in both france and UK ??
im not planning on getting rid of my UK licence yet, as I have many vans and cars that people who work for me drive in the UK - so they are all insured in the uk under my licence.

thanks for the help

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You certainly can’t insure a French registered vehicle in the UK (or vice versa come to that)

Buying a car here legally requires all sorts of transfer paperwork, even with a private sale. Others know a great deal more about this than I do and are sure to post soon but I thought I’d let you know what I was definitely sure of!

Hi Angela

I dont want to insure it in the UK.
it will be insured in france, but driven in the uk sometimes.
its more advice re the licence im after

You will be fine with the licence, Rob. My partner is still driving here with his UK licence and has just bought another car and insured it with that.

Added: In fact he can’t exchange his UK licence yet as we can’t do that until they have nearly run out, which mine has!

Wonderful, thanks Angela.
im not sure how long is left to run on mine yet…
have a great day

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I drove my car registered in France and was pulled over at Stansted Airport when the policeman noticed my French Plates. Asked me what I was doing in England and asked to see my licence which was and is English/British and on seeing told me it is illegal to drive a foreign registered car in the U.K. on an English Licence, I told him I was a French Resident and he suggested I swap it over asap, he hadn’t spoken to anyone over here in the Licence department as they wouldn’t let me swap unless I had lost it, was renewing it or had penalties to put on it. If anyone on here knows that isn’t the case then please let me know cos I’m going back in October.

That is correct.
We are not allowed by France to request a licence swop until 6 months before our UK licence expires in the normal course of things.

This has been covered (very) extensively on other threads here. The supreme info is on Kim’s Facebook page and she has kindly popped in here a few times to clarify things. There are other threads in this long saga but this one will give you a flavour:

If you want a French licence earlier you either have to get it mangled to an unreadable form in some sort of mishap, lose it or commit an infraction in France requiring you to swop so they can take points off.

Those of us who.don’t have an address in UK, so were always told we were committing an offence if we did not keep our licence address up to date, are caught in am impasse as we have to keep our UK licence but can’t update it.

A solution against zealous but unknowledgeable UK traffic cops could be to apply to ANTS for an International Driving Licence (no fee) off tbe back of your being resident and having a UK licence - that appeared in a thread here earlier this year and I am thinking of doing it.

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Look at 4b on the front of your card you must start the exchange just under 6 months before it expires.

Your policeman isn’t aware of the agreement between France and the U.K. for the exchange of driving licences.

When you leave the U.K. it’s irrelevant what is on your licence, in fact the U.K. is one of the few countries to have an address which makes it a pain in the arse.

This is the link to the U.K. Gov Driving in France, although not the best wording, I must get it changed, it mentions not being able to change your licence until 6 months this before expiry date.

I recommend that you keep a copy of this but and a copy of your TdS with it to show you are not eligible.

However, do not lose your licence if you live in France as it’s a legal requirement to hold a physical licence regardless that you are a resident.

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Hi Karen, an IDP will make no difference it’s only a translation of your licence and neither U.K. or French licence requires you to have one in the U.K.

I was thinking more of placating traffic cops - plus having something to hand over instead of your actual licence if you had to. I gather people used to get them to hand to campsites that wanted to hang on to some form of offcial ID so they could give the campsite their Internatipnal Driving Permit amd hang on to the rest of their docs

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Thank you

so i am allowed to insure in france and use my UK licence to drive backwards and forwards for work in the UK ?
and then exchange and update everything when i have 6 months left on my licence ?
thanks for your help

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Exactly, Rob!

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Kim, great info for the UK licence holders.

A question I have is what is the situation for me, holding a Spanish driver’s licence, come expiry of same in May 2024?

As a resident of ES I swapped my UK licence for an ES one in the months before turning 70, to avoid having to take the ES driving test once my UK licence actually expired. Since then, I moved to FR.

Now that I am a WARP CdS holder, will I be able to do a straight swap for a FR licence? And what would the lead time be for doing this?

I have a feeling that the WARP situation will just complicate things and you should be able to do a direct swap anyway but, fortunately, @kim is very much the expert and knows about lots of different licence exchange scenarios. I’ll be very surprised if she hasn’t come across your situation before!

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Thank you all for your help. much appreciated

Hi CaptainEndeavour

As the licence you exchanged for your ES one (UK) now has an agreement with France you will be eligible for exchange just under 6 months from expiry of 4b on your card, you hold an EU licence therefore it is the same exchange criteria as a UK exchange now.

Be aware you will have to provide your driving history from ES and proof of living there when you received your licence a minimum of 6 months.

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Hi Kim. Thank you for your reply.

I don’t fully understand it.

Once I exchanged my UK licence for an ES one, and as a registered resident of ES, where does the now extinct UK licence come in to it? Am I not in the position of a Spanish national who moves to FR?

Yes. That’s the point I make above. My UK licence ‘died a death’ on changing to an ES licence.

Is your point that despite the above, irrespective of residency status in the EU and holding an licence issued by an EU country, the licence exchange regs are as per a UK national holding a UK licence?

This is the point that confuses me. Are the regs for EU licence holders the same as those holding UK licences and v/versa?

My Spanish residency card is dated 20/02/2019. My ES licence issued 07/05/2019. ‘Trafico’ was a bit naughty in that it started the clock to expiry from the date of my medical and application not the issue of the licence, which was some months later. They short-changed me about 5 months!

I have no probs proving I lived in Spain. Like France, the electricity account has some weight, and all the other utilities and charges, such as service charges for my flat etc.

What does ‘provide your driving history’ involve?

Sorry I obviously didn’t make myself clear enough.

Your original licence (regardless who issued it) that you exchanged for an ES licence must have an agreement with France, to be able to exchange your ES licence in France.

So now the UK has a new agreement with France you can exchange your ES only when you are eligible.

UK licences are being processed exactly the same criteria as an EU Licence so the UK/EU criteria is the same now which is included in my post that was tagged by Karen above.

So you will exchange your ES licence 6 months before it expires, you cannot change it any sooner unless some other catastrophe strikes, lost/stolen, points to be taken.

Driving history is to show the categories you are eligible to drive and that you have no points or bans, This is obtained from the dept that issued your ES licence.

An electric account would not be accepted in France, it must be a document that you can only get by being officially in the system, as a 2nd home owner can have an electric account. It’s generally tax declaration, health affiliation, job contract things along that official line, but your Spanish residency card would work.

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Kim, many thanks for your explication. Now I understand.

I guess categories are on the card. I lost the 7.5 tonne one on exchange GB > ES. I believe this is automatic unless one gets in quick - but I’ll live without it.

I keep it in my wallet along with my FR Carte de Sejour. Never know when it might come in handy. It already has, to the tune of several €k’s :upside_down_face:

I shall ask my ‘gestora’ who arranged all my ‘docmenti’ in ES, from permit for a rubble skip to residency and social services card. What a gem she is!

She specialises in vehicle/driving matters and her mother is a full-on lawyer. If you know anyone who needs help with anything of this nature in ES, I will gladly let you have their details.

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