Driving licence exchange

I’m 75 and my UK C1 expires in April '25. I want to change to a french licence but I cannot submit until 6 months before expiry and I’ve read of waiting times in excess of 8 months, which could mean no licence for several months. I’m hoping the someone will respond to give me some up to date information on current waiting time. We live in the country close to the Pyrenees, which is very rural and not being able to drive is a total no no.


this is for HGV’s ???

The C1 is an addition category to the car licence and is for up to 7.5 tons. I’m more concerned about losing the C1 than losing the car licence, as our go-to vehicle is our motorhome. I’ve recently read on this forum about a chap losing his motorcycle category in the exchange process, which doesn’t bode well for anything other than a car licence.

if you amend the category of this thread to “cars/motoring/insurance” instead of General Discussion… it might well pull up some information that’s already been posted on similar questions … :crossed_fingers:

best of luck

The waiting times are getting better and seems many are get their exchange within the 6 months. More problematic is there is as yet no resolution on the C1 exchange. In general France do not accept transferring a category where you didn’t originally take a specific test for it. So it is rare to carry it over. I understand some have taken the medical exam and have managed to keep it, but there are no guarantees.

It is under negotiation, so maybe check again later in the year?

Or take a camping car test here.

Is it not possible to renounce your entitlement to extra categories? (unless you definitely need the HGV ability). I had to do this when I discovered my French license was out of date whilst trying to insure a new car. I am not sure where near the Pyrenees you are but there is an agency in St Gaudens helped me do this.

When you do the application you are asked to renounce the extra categories, or provide the certificates to keep them. I lost my C1 when I exchanged. But for a motorhome you need at least the C1 (97).

France Services offices can help with the applications.

Not true.
Only if the motorhome is over 3500kg. With a B licence you can drive a motorhome up to 3500kg and if the category is BE you can also tow a trailer with gross wieght od 3500kg so 7000kg unit in total. I think, but stand corrected, that the E part of BE is a grandfather right if test passed pre 1997.
I let all my extra categories lapse in 2014 but can still drive my motorhome and trailer on BE, gross wieght of 5000kg.
Things might have changed now but when I exchanged in 2009 I took a medical and all my existing rights were transferred from UK to French licence. Perhaps Brexit changed that.

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Yes, a Brexit benefit.

But being able to drive 3,5t might be enough for @Jofang ?

I appreciate all the comments, thank you. We need C1 as motorhome is Hymer 5 tons, 6 wheels.

Hi, if you are in Facebook, look for this group and ask to join it. Extremely knowledgeable admin, and I’m sure you’ll get the correct information. Driving in France - French Licence Application. I think the admins close it for the weekend, so you might not be able to see the group until Monday. Best of luck from a fellow motorhomer.

Hi Cookie
I can’t find the name of the group you mention in your message. Thanks.

That group is run by @kim who is also a member of Survive France and she may be able to come on here to help.

Otherwise, I’d add the link for the Facebook Group (and will later if no-one else does) but Facebook won’t let me log on from this laptop…sigh…

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That’s because it’s on pause until Monday 14.00 as I’m away. Please try then.

Or try the basic group www.facebook.com/groups/7129682413733272/

However unless you passed a test for C1 this won’t be transferred across.

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I got my exchanged Permis in February. I opted not to retain my ‘HGV’ options (up to 7.5 tons as I passed my car test in 1977). However, the authorities took this to include my C1 as well as C category. I assume, that to retain the C1 I would have had to pass a test, and possibly an examination as well.
When you send your UK licence in for renewal you will be e-mailed a certificate saying that the exchange process is underway. Print this out and carry it with you when you drive.

I,m contemplating taking a C1 test in the UK before I submit my UK licence for exchange, even though I have grandfather rights. I would hope this would be acceptable to the authorities in France.

Kim has just confirmed that for separate categories like C1 they will not be transferred unless you have taken a test.

However getting a C1 in the Uk could be quite complex and expensive “very basic medical exam, a provisional LGV licence application, a theory test, a practical training course and practical test. “. Unless you are regularly back in the UK wouldn’t you be better off doing it here closer to home? And the C1(97) test is less involved and allows for everything but commercial transport.

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Hi Jane
thank you for following up on this.
I have also checked out the UK test option and it’s a non-starter. I’m happy to take a test in France but my spoken French is poor and my understanding vocabulary worse. I can explain to people what I want, but they reply with words I don’t understand. I believe you can use a translator for the test, if so this could be the way to go. We are right down the bottom west corner of France, 40 miles from the Spanish border and I have no contacts here for a suitable translator. Price for a translator not a problem if I can find one.

Search for “ La traduction simultanée” in area where test is. Otherwise there are a whole load of instant translation devices now so could be worth checking if that would be allowed?


have you flicked through the Code Rousseau Tansport de la Route… or something similar…??

It will help you improve your French, as well as confirming that you do know the French way of “doing things”… which you’ll presumably get tested on…

I still find my old “Code Rousseau de la route” comes in handy (but that’s for cars and bikes, remorques etc…)