French Registered Vehicle off the road for several years

Hi Folks,

This is my first query, so be gentle!

I’m 72 and determined to retire and live in France really soon. I have a property in mind to buy but it needs renovation and I have decided to buy a cheap motorhome to live in while I make the property habitable.

My question is about the vehicle. OK, hang on! I have limited funds so am looking for a bargain. I have found a 1988 left hand drive motorhome which was originally registered and used in UK. Evidently, it was taken to France in 2004 and properly registered in France. However, the vehicle was brought back to UK a couple of years ago, has been in storage over here - but it looks like the owner hasn’t re-imported it officially to UK. The seller (here in UK) says it is still on French registration documents.

It still appears on the DVLA website as ‘untaxed’ since 2004. It wears French registration plates.

Now, my question is: assuming the vehicle has not been ‘taxed’ in France (or whatever is required for a French registered vehicle which is kept off the road for a number of years), what will be the legal situation in France if I drive it back. I’m not too concerned about the UK situation since I could transport it to an English ferry terminal. It’s what happens at the French port (and onwards) that I need to know.

On another point, it is a 2.5 litre diesel! I have heard there are new regulations for city use? My main use would be countryside driving as I intend to live in a village in Vienne.

Grateful for any advice,


How can a French registered vehicle appear on the DVLA website?
But that’s probably beside the point.

There is no road tax in France so you don’t need to worry about that, but if it has no CT (=MOT) or insurance it will not be road legal in France. Getting insurance in your situation is not impossible but may be a challenge. Obviously it won’t be CT’d so maybe you need to take it to the nearest CT centre when you get off the ferry…

What you MUST check is that you have all the correct paperwork, otherwise you will never get ownership transferred into your name in France. The procedure is far far tighter in France than in the UK, to prevent people selling vehicles are not theirs to sell. The existing carte grise (registration document) MUST show the name of the person you’re buying it from and the sales paperwork MUST be completed and signed by both of you. If it’s being sold by anyone other than the person whose name is shown on the carte grise, don’t touch it because you’ll struggle to ever get it registered in your name.

Assuming you buy it, you’ll need to get it CT’d before you can register it in your name - but cross that bridge when you come to it.

I also have an old diesel motorhome. I just steer well clear of cities :slight_smile:


Thanks for your quick reply!

Unfortunately, I have just heard that the vehicle has been sold - curses,will have to start looking again.

But you information still useful to me. Thanks.

(It was still on DVLA since, whoever owned and 'exported it in 2004 didn’t inform DVLA.)