Getting a French driving license

I am thinking of getting a French driving license. To do so, here in 64, I have to provide my UK license plus a court certified translation, which is costly. I queried this with our local Prefet and was told that the official language of France is French, but a French license was not compulsory if I had a UK one!

Now the wording on a UK license is always the same, apart from what categories you are entitled to drive. So it seems to me unnecessary to get a complete translation every time a UK license is exchanged for a French one. Is there any cheap version out there?

I have also heard that some departments do not insist on a translation. If that is the case I would love to hear it so I can respond to our Prefet.

Woops - hands up - I was wrong. Happy to be shot down in flames.....:-)

I asked DVLA in Swansea about being resident in another EU/EEA country and using a GB driving licence showing an incorrect address. This is their reply, received today....

DVLA Email <>


11:22 (2 hours ago)


Dear Mr Armstrong

Thank you for your email received on 23/6/15. Your email reference number is 3125991.

I can confirm that drivers who take up residence in another European Community/European Economic Area (EEC /EEA) country no longer have to exchange their driving licence, but may continue to drive using their own national licence for as long as it remains valid. You should, however, check with the appropriate driving licence authorities where you are now resident for information on any conditions that the host member state may stipulate.

It is accepted that drivers who move to another part of the EC/EEA could be holding a licence showing an incorrect address.

This is permissible under the terms of the EC Directive on Driving Licences.

Do not reply to this email. If you wish to contact us again about this response then please use our Reply Form or copy and paste the following URL in to your browser:

When filling in the form the email reference number 3125991 will be required.


C Day

DVLA Contact Centre

No Mike - you need to surrender one in order to get the other.

Out of curiosity can you have a UK DL as well as a French DL (and/or and EU DL)?


@ Andrew

'we got there in the end and every one's happy! ;-)'

Don't know what gave you that idea Andrew! ;-)

I'm so glad I have a Finnish driving license and passport: no address information on them to worry about.
I've been "flashed" twice here in France for speeding, but in the letter they forgot to tick the "change your driving license to French". The Finnish license is valid until the age of 70, with medical checks required every 5 years after you turn 50, but that's only if you live in Finland. I will eventually swap it for a French one. When the time comes.

we got there in the end and every one's happy! ;-)

Wonderful - thanks so much for clearing that up John. Happy motoring!

The issue:
When you become a resident of France you may use your current UK driving licence until it expires. At that point you cannot renew it abut have to exchange it for a French licence. The DVLA tells you that when you move abroad you have to contact the local authorities to see what their ruling re foreign licences is. The French state, quite clearly, that an EC licence remains valid until it’s expiry date unless you need to have points recorded, in which case you must change to a French licence. The red herring about the address is irrelevant, French police do not expect an address on a French driving licence so the ‘out of date’ address is of no consequence.
If people feel happier to change their UK licence for a French one fine, that’s their choice. At the same time there is nothing illegal about driving in France using your current EC (UK issued) licence.

John - your address is not shown on a French photo card driving licence and you don't even have to advise a change of address if you move house within France. You do of course need to change the address on your Certificat d'Immatriculation. Hope that helps!

Will somebody please tell me where to find the address on a French photo card licence. I can’t find it and it’s only a small bit of plastic.

It was the case. Nothing stays the same forever. Catch up on what happened early last year.

If you retain your UK address, yes you may keep the licence. If you move from one address to another in the UK strictly speaking you must inform the DVLA in Swansea. We lived in Swansea for five years so I renewed there, the UK licence I turned in for a French one in fact. I turned up there to replace my expiring one and had a wonderful lecture about the fact that when I had moved from the address on my licence I should have informed them, then got a second glare when I cockily mentioned the fact that when we sold up but before ready to move to Wales we rented for a couple of months near my old address. We should, according to them, have informed them I had left my old address, given the temporary one and then done so again but then being in Swansea for over a year on my address before the last was simply against the law. So yes, if you remain at the same UK address for longer than your UK licence is valid of course you can retain it. The fact that 'nobody' bothers is not a valid argument if you get into trouble. By moving out of the UK whilst your licence is indisputably valid, your address is not, therefore you are legally obliged to change it. If you retain your UK address legitimately then fine, if you have no UK address then not. If as my wife, you get a single point taken off then you have no choice, kick and shout in protest as you may.

The fact of the matter is that none of this is made clear, the details about change of address need to be better informed and the realities of driving on a UK licence that is revocable also made clear.

John you're absolutely right - you can keep your UK photo licence until it expires - so long as the information on it is accurate.

If you move house within the UK, your are required by law to inform DVLA of your new address - already covered above.

Same thing applies if you move to another country - only, if you do, you can't amend your address to a non GB one, so you need to change your licence to a French one with a French address. Pretty simple concept really.

Anyway, you do whatever you like - thousands do. I just wouldn't like to test your 'theories' with an insurance company following an accident.

The part about the counterpart no longer applies, the rest is the law as it stands. The one thing that you are not allowed to do as a French resident is RENEW a UK licence to a UK address.

Shouting always helps. Why are you going on about issuing licences, the entitlement is to retain the one that you have until it expires?
I hope you slept well. I did, my conscience is clear.
You can take a horse to water…

Cameron’s lacky’s what?

Just because something is stated here, even multiple times, does not make it true. If you have a current UK photo licence you can keep it until it expires. You do not have to change your address your previous UK address is fine. Alternatively you can exchange it whenever you like for French licence. (No translation required)
Having French points is a completely different thing altogether, although it appears that you can have points from speed cameras without being asked to change to a French licence.