Caution when buying a French registered car

I recently bought a used French registered car from a UK dealer and the prefecture here will not let me register it.

The problem is that the French person who sold it to the dealer in London completed and sent off the 'certificat de cession' which showed the dealer as the buyer.

The 'carte grise' is still in the seller's name and the computer system shows that it was sold to someone in London. The prefecture will not register it to me because I am not that person.

I have registered a number of cars here in the past but this is the first time this has happenned.

Has anyone any useful ideas about how to procede please?

Regards to all


yes I am thanks James - but only recently have i received any responses - even though I made the submission on june 12.

something not quite right - but let us just let that go. the "test" i did went fine so I am not complaining;

Frankly, I think it is in line with my current problems with TWO cars I have now bought which I cannot register.

Thanks for all your assistance


Geoff, are you getting this?

Your quite right Sheila, but it is a Demande de Certificat d'immatriculation you need first ; Cerfa 13750.03, then you get the new Certificat d'immatriculation, commonly known as to all as the "carte grise'.

The certificat d'imatriculation is the registration document the carte a gris no longer exists

Just took a look at mine. It clearly says "Certificat d'immatriculation" across the top, followed by No. Immatriculation, and Date de 1ere Immatriculation

The certificat d'immatriculation is the form you fill to re-register the car, whereupon you receive the new carte grise. Voila

Just a quick question. The carte grise and the certificat d'immatriculation are one and the same, I thought? We bought our car from an Australian. She signed off on the Carte Grise and we also had to re-register the car in our département. The carte grise was replaced by a certificat d'immatriculation, giving the new registration number. The local garage charged us just €6 or €7 to do the new plates. We had to get a CT done but Madame Durand in the Mairie helped me with the paperwork for the re-registration and sent it all off. The re-registration cost over €200 though.

Chris it is "simple" you just need to follow the rules. You will need:

Certificat de session properly filled in and signed
Certicficat de non-gage
Controle techniqe of less than six month old
the carte grise duly crossed with the mention " Vendu à (and the name of the purchaser) le (and the date) à (and the kilometres) kilometres.

Note: once crossed the carte grise is only valid for one month, so you need to re-register the car during that time. and to do that you will need a certificat d'immatriculation.

That's about it. Hope that helps. If you need more the leLingo helpline can help.

I thought buying a car in France was supposed to be simple. Reading Geoff's and other sagas, I am beginning to tremble, especially as I am buying the [French] car of an Englishman returning to UK. The transaction will actually happen in Yorkshire, but it is French-registered and will remain so. Any pitfalls I need to look out for?

Hi Geoff,

Clare Smith gave you the simplest solution. Ask your prefecture exactly what they require in your case, because each prefecture seems to have its own way of doing things, then simply do what they ask. I think the key will be how the certificat de session was filled in. If you need more help, get in touch. I'm sure the bilingual helpline can help you sort this. We would need sight of the paperwork.

The UK dealer has to register the car in his/his company's name, then it is his to sell to you.

I encountered this problem when I bought my last car. The French guy was trying to be clever. You have to register your newly bought car within 3 months of purchase so what he did, he bought it off a woman in Nice and sold it to me before the 3 months were up thinking I could use her certificat de cession.

I couldn't and there would have been stalemate had my seller not agreed to register the car in his name (at a cost) and then pass me the proper papers. Only when I had his papers would the Prefecture process the change of ownership.

Hope this helps...

I had a similar problem with a car I bought in Toulouse with spanish plates imported as it turned out from Portugal by another Toulouse dealer I had to get a copy of the the bill of sale in Portugal as well as the transfer document between the two French dealers. A frantic week since no-one seemed to see at their responsobility. They should accept a copy of the bill of sale between you and the dealer in London. One of the problems seems to be that no two prefectures operate by the same rules.

Have you asked the prefecture what you need / what you need to do to proceed?? The form 'certificat de cession' should have been done in triplicate one for the seller one for the dealer and one for the prefecture, so that you can see the transfer. This would be presented to the prefecture and I think the dealer should have completed a form cerfa N° 13751*02 Try looking at the official web site and this It seems to me that the UK dealer has passed the buck and doesn't know what to do with it perhaps????


I arrived in France with a let hand drive car, bought from a german, still on german plates, got divorced, in England remarried, in England and had my birth certificat......teh guy couldnt cope , stamped the papers and told me to go away! make it more complicated and they will give in!

Geoff, I agree with Sheila this should be your first port of call. You may have to have them register it and then transfer the document back to you, sounds like it's going to be tricky. A good bloke to ask would be Tim Abady at

It seems to me Geoff that your problem lies with the UK dealer. Have you contacted them and if so, what was their response?