Illegal UK Registered cars in France

Just wondered how many pople living here in France notice cars still driving on UK registration plates. I followed a red mercedes today in the St Malo area still on UK plates. When I got home I was very surprised to find out that the vehicle road tax has expired on 1st May 2011 and the MOT had expired on 9th October 2013. This I believe according to all the rules here in France is illegal in so many ways. The DVLA didn’t have a export marker against this vehicle either. To discover this information I made a note of the UK Registration Number. I was annoyed because it cut me up in road works, and really doubt if the French insurance would have covered it in an accident

As long as French insurance companies continue to insure these vehicles then people will use them, it used to wind me up but now I just don’t care, I also know many Brits that live ‘under the radar’ and don’t declare their income but again if they want to risk problems with the authorities after Brexit then that’s up to them.

Does the type of person who is prepared to just bring a vehicle over and not register it for eight years bother with insurance?

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Strangely enough… sometimes they do.

Last weekend tried to help a chap with an unregistered car on his hands… He had a letter from the owner’s Insurance confirming that it was insured… (although what level of insurance, I do not know.) The car has been on French roads for 15 years … on UK plates, despite being exported through DVLA… :roll_eyes::zipper_mouth_face:

I am astounded that is even possible.

Current penalties for driving with no insurance:

First Offence:

Article L 324-2 of the Highway Code states that driving without insurance is a crime and can be punished as such by a fine of 3,750€. This fine can be accompanied by additional penalties such as the suspension or the permanent cancellation of the driving license and the confiscation of the vehicle.

Additionally, the law of November 18, 2016 stipulates that driving without insurance can be penalized by an immediate fixed penalty fine. During a check, the police officer or gendarme may issue an immediate fixed penalty fine of 500€. This can be reduced to 400 € for a payment within 15 days or increased to 1000 € after 45 days.

Subsequent Offences:

An increased fine which may be up to 7,500€, with additional penalties such as the permanent cancellation of the driving licence and the confiscation of the vehicle.

If a car has no current MOT, or recent CT inspection, would any insurance be valid even if it is a with French insurance company?

Illegal cars do wind me up as people who don’t care about things like that probably also don’t care how they drive. And to me the basis of a civilised society is that people contribute to it equally (according to their means of course).


My van is still on UK plates, but has insurance, CT, etc., but no-one has been able to explain to me why I was refused a CG when I last tried to change.
I’ve spoken to the police, the CT centre; & the vehicle conforms in every way necessary, but the lady at the sous-prefecture refused & swore at me for being"English"

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We knew someone who refused to complete a French tax return, despite being told be several people that she needed to complete a nil return.
She refused to listen, saying that she didn’t need to because her civil service pension was taxed in UK.
Of course, she still needed to declare her state pension, but that didn’t seem to matter.
I don’t know how she will get on with having to apply for CdS with no tax returns.
We also told her that her house would be seen as a second home, but to no avail.

Bob… I have never heard of the Prefecture doing that… for no good reason. Yes, they could throw the dossier back, if it lacked a document from the paper trail… or whatever. sometimes, if they were very busy, it took a moment of calm questioning to find out “what was wrong”…

But to refuse to register your van simply because you are English (as you infer)… is illegal .

Why not have a word with the local garage who can do the thing on-line nowadays… they can check your dossier and make sure all is in order, before going ahead.

It’s been a very long time since sous préfectures had anything to do with vehicle immatriculation - could that perhaps be why ???

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I am admin on a facebook group for registering vehicles in France & we get quite a few questions about this.
The law is quite simple - if you live in France then your car must be registered in France.
There are always a very few people who do not know where they live but they are either stupid or have a very complicated lifestyle. The majority of us, when asked where we live, can answer that in seconds. Pied-a terres & holiday homes cannot be classed as your domicile.
When you move over here you have ONE month to at least start the registration process if you want to use the vehicle on the road. You should also contact your tax office & declare your import within 15 days of its arrival whether or not it is used on the road.
UK insurance is only valid for UK residents so once you move to another country this would become invalid. You could continue to keep your change of country secret from them but should the worst happen they would void your cover as you would have failed to notify a change of circumstance.
One must be a little careful before assuming that the UK registered car you see is actually illegal. Those with holiday homes cannot register a car to their french address without committing fraud so their choices are to keep a UK registered, taxed, MOT’d & insured car there (it is the person’s time in France, not the car’s) or have the carte grise of a french car in the name of a friend or neighbour.


Of course it doesn’t help when HMG helpfully tells folk that if you move to France you have to register your vehicle there after 6 months, which I read just a few days ago on one of their webpages.

and the number of cars that are on UK plates and marked as SORN… grrrrrr

All the necessary was started.
When I explained to the lady that the CT person had advised me that I had all the correct paperwork, her reply was “so he knows my job better than I do …?!”
I left it there.
I checked with Iveco UK & Iveco France re. CoC; France wanted 500+ euros, whilst UK sent them free of charge.
According to UK their CoC’s are valid in Europe, but of course, it depends which area you are in, as to whether or not they’re are accepted.
The vehicle was declared at the tax office, as I was self employed at the time…everything was in order it seems, apart from…well, I don’t know!

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This was just after I brought the van over, so about 8-9 years ago.

This is true Stella.
I had a 206 as a runaround for a while, about 18 months ago.
I changed the CG at the local garage & asked at the same time about changing the van.
The owner told that whilst he could change French CG’s very easily, changing foreign plates entails another “formation” & he was still waiting for notification as to when his would take place…Last week he was STILL waiting, when I asked the same question

Oh dear… I think NorAuto and Feu Vert (some branches) are able to offer the service… it is a pickle… :sunglasses::roll_eyes:

As a garagiste myself I often register imports for customers. Garages can do this but often they won’t because they do not know what paperwork they actually need.

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I suspect the insurance will happily take premiums but may not pay out when required. UK insurance always used to have a caveat that the vehicle must be legal, so for example, no MOT could mean no insurance.
I would not be surprised if the French insurers took a similar view.

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