Getting a British car registered in France

Hi all,

A Survive France user messaged me on Facebook about the process of registering a British car - I thought I'd post my reply here, as it will be useful to lots of people:

Before anything else you'll need to go to the local town hall and "declare" your vehicle to the French authorities - it's a tax thing. There won't be any tax due, but they still need to give you a piece of paper saying they know about the car and any tax (e.g. 0,00€) has been paid!

Then you'll need a CT (Controlle Technique) which is the French MOT and obviously needs to be done by a French garage when you arrive. Normally you can get away with filters on the headlamps for this, but depending on the garage they might try to make you change the headlamps for ones that point the right way. (The only car I did this with was LHD and had correct headlamps anyway, but a friend's RHD MG-F passed without a headlamp change.) Generally speaking, the French are more lenient than the Brits and the CT is valid for 2 years (though beware, our hosts had a Land Rover story where it was actually classed as a van and needed a CT every year - they didn't realise and got in trouble - so make sure!)

You'll also need a Certificate of Conformity. You can get this from Nissan, but the French try to apply the scheme retrospectively, so Nissan UK might not be able to issue you with one if the car is more than 10 years old - Nissan France will. And they'll probably charge you about 150€ for it. Or there are government offices around who can issue one for cheaper - there's one in Montpellier, but the name of the department escapes me... (If you have a classic car, see this thread:

Then you'll need to be armed with a lot of patience, a good book and a French speaker (if you are not) for a trip to the Prefecture. You will be there HOURS. Get there early - if you don't then at lunchtime the desk closes and the queue starts from zero after lunch. Typically there'll be someone there screening everyone, making sure you have all you need so you don't get to the desk without the right papers. To get past them, you'll need:

- Tax papers from the Mairie (town hall)

- CT

- Certificate of Conformity

- Your British V5C

- Passport of the registered keeper

- Passport of anyone whose name appears on anything! (My wife had to go twice, because even though my name only appeared on the tax document, they wanted my passport too!)

- Proof of address (usually rental contract + utility bill)

- Your cheque book (there will be a tax to pay, based on power of engine - probably about 300€ for a 2.8)

Hope I haven't forgotten anything!

After that, just bide your time and wait for your number to be called.

These days you'll get a temporary Carte Grise (French V5C) and the real one will arrive in the post within a couple of weeks, normally quite quickly. You can order your plates straight away anyway, because unlike the UK now, French plate manufacturers can just make you up a plate - they don't need to see the Carte Grise.

Does that make you an official "happy camper"?

Thanks very much, Mark, for your help & advice. Now have Hettie the Hymer with her Certificat Provisoire d'Immatriculation. We went to the Préfecture at Agen after a trip to the Trésor Public at La Réole first thing 'cos they had been shut the previous day, or had they (?) 'cos the impôt place was a different unmarked door!

Chose Agen 'cos the parking was easier. Left blank the bits I was unsure about on the application & the lady on the desk filled them in for me. Including waiting time it was all took about 35min. Total cost was just under €300 & my UK insurance refund was about £400 for half a year, French insurance will be about €720 for the year.

Well pleased that that job's done!

All the best,



Thanks to everyone for your advice. I intend to get the quitus fiscal this afternoon & have a trip to Bordeaux Préfecture tomorrow. I do find the Application Form quite confusing & will try to get some help with that.

All the best,



It is going to be simple.

You will need :-

The UK logbook, both pages.

The quitus fiscal from the Tresor Public (when you catch them open)

Your two c of cs

A completed (as much as you can - if not sure do not guess, leave blank & the teller will put in the correct info) cerfa n°13750*05 de demande de certificat.

Photo id - passport.

Proof of french address - EDF bill.

Can't hurt to take photocopies of your EDF bill & back page of your passport as well as the originals as many prefectures will ask you to pay for copies which they retain - they will need to check the originals, though. Cannot hurt to take the purchase invoice for the camper as well, if you have it.

When you arrive at the prefecture take a ticket first, then go to the enquiries window to have your documents checked. This will gain you a few positions while you wait.

Check the opening times of the office for cartes grises too as some close at 13.30.

You will be issued with a temporary certificate with your french number, the original will be sent recorded delivery in a few days.

If there is a prefecture nearer to you but in another department you can go there instead - cartes grises are now issued centrally & are not department sensative!

Good luck.

Or this,

Having the two CoCs is good news as registering motor caravans can be difficult. Don’t be put off by the prospect of spending hours in the Prefecture, the past two times I’ve been in to sort out a registration I’ve been in and out in less than 20 minutes. Contrary to the original post our local Prefecture is open at lunchtimes and I’ve found that that is the best time to go as most people are somewhere else eating. The one thing that you will have to be prepared for is the possibility of paying an Eco tax on top of the registration fee. This is based on CO2 emissions and I have seen posts stating that it costs nearly €10000 for a new Transit. There is a reduction with the age of the vehicle but yours is fairly new.

Hopefully this link will be of some help…

Thanks Mark & Catharine.

It does not have a type approval number under section K.

It is a Hymer Motorhome complete with CoC from Hymer & an EC CoC from Fiat & the original UK registration docs & re-registration with my cherished number plate that cannot stay with the Hymer.

I was pleased to learn from the CT garage that she will not need a controle until 13.11.16-4 years after her first registration.

I went to the local Fiscal Department for the Certificate d'Impot but they were shut.

Our Préfecture is in Bordeaux with a sub-Préfecture in Langon, the latter being easy to get to, but Bordeaux would be a bit of a mission!

Thanks very much for your advice,


PS If there has to be a 'mission' we could have a trip to Bordeaux.

@ Roger - would just like to reiterate that yes, if you need any further info Mark Rimmer is absolutely your man and will give you accurate and helpful information.

Good luck!

Catharine x

Hi Roger,

The process for a car is now straightforward, as a garagiste I help many of my customers with this process.

Your mayor can indeed handle the process for you but all they do is send off the paperwork on your behalf. If I were you I would take the trouble to go to a prefecture in person so that any problems can be dealt with on the spot.

First, a few questions. Is the UK logbook in your name? Is it complete & does it have a type approval number under section K?

I knowing this I can probably guide you through the rest....

I have.

Just a couple of questions, really.


This account is full of inaccuracies. Look elsewhere for more accurate and up to date details.


We are just about to register our Hymer in France for the first time.

On the site of our mayor it says he deals with vehicle re-registrations, but nothing about new registrations. Is that likely to have to be somewhere else?

It is almost 3 years old & has done 6000 miles, do I have to get an impot certificate for the first registration.



PS have adjusted my headlights & have the CoC & the receipt for purchase so hope to be OK.

If you know of a British mechanic in your area, they can sometimes adjust the headlamps. And if you do replace, getting them online is much cheaper.

yep the CT flagged the headlamps immediately and said the stickers are a no-no, I have to change the headlamps, no choice.

also tonight while driving home about 10 cars flashed their lights at me, because i must have dazzled them, it became ennerving, so I am looking forward to changing them, which should happen on friday.

I'd be dead curious as to when your last CT was and if you manage to get through the next one with beam deflectors on. Apparently all this was tightened up at the start of 2012, and new machines issued to test centres for headlamp checking, so I don't know when your last CT was but you might not pass the next one I'm afraid. Worth a try, I'm sure people would like to know how you get/got on.

I wouldn't know where to look for the actual law, but I'm told by our mechanic here beam deflectors *are* a fail and illegal. They're OK as a temporary measure, but as soon as a car is stopping it needs proper headlamps. Makes sense really. I had to change the headlamps in a Jag I imported about 3 years ago (got cheap ones on ebay) because the CT place wouldn't pass it.

That said, we looked after a Honda Civic for a friend and she never changed her headlamps, always had beam deflectors (this was over Antibes way) though she moved to Malta before she needed another CT, so who knows if it would've passed again?

My car is a Nissan Almera Tino made in 2002. My previous car, a RHD Peugeot, also passed the CT 5 times with headlamp converters. These converters are marked RAC.


How old is your car? Usually headlamp stickers are a failure as they work by cutting off the part of the beam which illuminates the kerb on dipped (oncoming traffic in France) which leaves a weak & potenntially dangerous light pattern, OK for a holiday but not usually acceptable for a CT. Most CT stations with the new testing machines would fail a car with stickers.

I do not understand why so many Brits complain about the cost of a certificate of conformity! This one-off payment is usually less than the cost of the little round piece of coloured paper that the UK motorist has to buy EVERY YEAR in order to use their car on the road!

Headlights can usually be bought much more cheaply, as Tim discovered, either new or second hand, online, through Ebay or Leboncoin. NEVER go to a main dealer first!

Some members of the public do sometimes misunderstand the import procedure. The other day I met a Brit at the CT station who was importing a van. He was finding the procedure difficult & said that, according to DREAL, if he had left things until May he could have used his English MOT at the Prefecture rather than a French CT. He may be right of course but I cannot see how as a car with a UK mot would still have dangerous headlights so fail a French test & also would not have a vehicle test with at least 18 months left to run on it! I think perhaps that the DREAL were talking about prefectures accepting the type approval number on a UK logbook (section K) instead of needing a complete Cert of Conformity, but I do not know for sure!

I just took my car through controle technique today and they had no objections to my using headlamp converters at under £7 as previously mentioned in this conversation ( february 5th ) - a bit cheaper than new headlights. Also certificate of conformity at 200 is a bit expensive -who charged that ? - Nissan UK charged £111 including courier delivery.

See if you can get them online. We were quoted 1300€ for a Honda CRV. Found them for 300€ for both online from I am sure there are others. Then get them fitted.

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