Importing An Older Toyota into France: Is it even possible to legalize it? (Homologation, etc.)

Dear SF discussion group,

Do you have any experience importing and registering ‘older’ vehicles in France?

I would like to import a 1995 Toyota Tacoma small pickup truck into France from the USA – it has very low mileage and would come in handy. But it occurs to me that such an “old” car might never be legalizable.

I’ve contacted CertifAuto (private company who purportedly assists with the homologation process) and the DREAL…and neither of them are able to venture this information – not sure if they are unable or unwilling. I am also waiting to speak with someone from a Toyota dealership in France.

Thank you.

Hi Roland… quick question…is the truck petrol or diesel ??

The truck is petrol, uses regular gasoline.

OK… so it uses petrol. that is good as France is steering away from diesel vehicles…

Have you tried entering your vehicle’s details into the crit’air site… to find out about the emissions and how they are viewed in France. No need to complete the actual purchase, just do the simulation.

You can then have a go at simulation Carte Grise… and figure out how much it will cost to Register the vehicle…plus import tax (not sure about that)

I’m only thinking that it might be cheaper to buy a secondhand truck here…:wink:

Hi Stella,

Thanks for sending the link. I adjusted the link you sent by removing the last few words, because it was taking me to page that no longer exists. I did not find the USA among their list of countries for which they would provide air pollution/emission standardization certificates.
I have tried calling Toyota USA…wrote emails to other possible sources of information.
I did consider a used vehicle – most of those had much too much mileage and were generally in poor condition. That would be the fallback solution, though.

Sorry Roland… the links do drop off. Darn nuisance not showing USA… but perhaps that indicates that you might indeed face difficulties registering your USA truck here.

Forget it. Trying to import and register a car from Japan or the USA that has not been built to European specifications will be all but impossible. If you were to search through various expat forums you will find no end of people who have discovered this the hard way. Wait until it is over 30 years old and can be registered as a vehicle de collection but until then you will be knocking your head against a brick wall and you could find yourself seriously out of pocket at the same time as you start replacing the glass, lights, CPU etc, etc to items EC marked which still may not be enough.

Hi Roland
To be frank the question I am asking is why bother ?
In 2018 the’ controle technique’ ( road worthiness ) of vehicules here is undergoing a great change. I have already spoken to someone ‘in the trade’ and he says that there will now be a huge percentage of cars that will not pass. Even something like a small hole in the bodywork means, it will not pass.

Why not buy something here, already registered and with a controle technique, less expensive and far less hassle.

I ‘imported’ my Fiat many years ago (rhd) and by the time I had passed by the mines ( import at that time) and paid all the duty etc; it left a big hole in my pocket and was so much stress!

Another consideration is the cost of spares, sometimes difficult to find here, so it bumps up the prices a lot !

Good luck anyway with whatever you do decide, but life is short, a car is a car and there are lots of those for sale here, why complicate things ? :slight_smile:

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Hello David,
Ah…that may be it. The car is ‘only’ 22 years old. Is there indeed a special dispensation for cars older than 30 years?

I guess I hate to part with my little truck because it’s been so useful. Apart from already owning it, I am not looking forward to having to find something in France to replace it. Hate shopping.
Most of the French drivers I’ve seen are “pedal to the metal”, speed everywhere, and beat the hell out of their cars…which is why I do not want to buy one used. On the other hand, a new car is never worth the price.
Thanks for your input.

Yes, cars over 30 years are treated differently. Search FFVE for more details. I’m afraid however much you want your car here in France it’s not going to happen. America is not part of the EU and the specification of your Toyota will not be recognized. Please don’t generalize about national drivers, pedal to the metal certainly doesn’t describe the French driving I see daily but seems common in the US films shown on TV. Drivers are individuals.
Do the research, US spec cars and grey imports from the Far East not built to EU specifications are not welcome in France. Sorry but you will have to back down on this one.

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Thanks for your note – I will reconsider importing that truck. I already imported a 2006 Mini Cooper that checked out 99%, but so far hasn’t been able to obtain licensure because the wording on one of its tags (manufacturers plate) was in the WRONG FORMAT! meaning all the right information, just in a different order than those in the French Frmarket.
When you say “spares” are you referring to tires?

About the cost – in my experience, new and used cars in France are more expensive than in the US, especially California, as are parts.

Another question; if a car doesn’t pass the safety and emission tests I assume it could potentially be ‘brought current’ or modified to pass…is that correct? I may not want to take the risk, even if the answer is yes.

Spares means auto-parts.
There are garages here that will import French cars from Belgium, perfectly legal and much cheaper. That’s how I have a Citreon Berlingo that I could never have bought here !
It’s not just the emission tests but a whole raft of new things that are changing here with cars.
I have copied some of the details here (in French, bien sûr) but you can get more info on Internet -

le nouveau contrôle technique se veut beaucoup plus sévère, avec trois sanctions contre deux jusqu’à présent. Quelles sont-elles ?

1 - Les défaillances mineures :

Au nombre de 139, ces défaillances regroupent les défauts devant être réparés mais ne nécessitant pas de contre-visite. Quelques exemples de défaillances mineures :

  • Rotules : Jeu mineur ;
  • Fuite moteur (légère) ;
  • Colonne de direction : Jeu mineur.

2 - Les défaillances majeures :

Leur nombre s’élève à 340. Ces défaillances regroupent les anomalies qui nécessitent une contre-visite. Le délai de la contre-visite reste fixé à deux mois. Quelques exemples de défaillances majeures :

  • Flexible de frein abîmé (si absence de fuite) ;
  • Éclairage de la plaque d’immatriculation défectueux ; •- Feu de croisement défectueux.

3 - Les défaillances critiques :

C’est la nouveauté principale de ce nouveau contrôle technique. Les défaillances critiques sont au nombre de 127. En cas de détection d’une défaillance critique, sachez que la validité du contrôle technique se limite au jour du contrôle. Autrement dit, vous n’aurez le droit de circuler que le jour même jusqu’à votre domicile ou chez votre garagiste pour effectuer ou faire effectuer la réparation. Quelques exemples de défaillances critiques :

  • Feux stop défectueux ;
  • Absence de liquide de freins ;
  • Jeu excessif dans la direction.

Bon à savoir : Que se passe-t-il en cas de défaillances multiples ?

Si le rapport de contrôle technique fait l’objet de plusieurs défaillances dont l’une est critique, il faudra dans un premier temps procéder à cette réparation le jour même pour la faire lever. Vous disposerez ensuite du délai imparti en fonction des défaillances annexes, soit deux mois si défaillance majeure par exemple.

Roland please listen to the advice you are being given. Bringing a US spec car or motorcycle into France and registering involves far more than getting it through an emissions test. It is fairly straightforward to register an American sourced car in the UK but impossible in France. It will not happen however much you want it to. Do you really believe that after transporting your 1995 car across from the west coast of America and paying all the import duties due it will be cheaper than a locally sourced car of the same age?
I do know what I am talking about. I own a car which spent most of its life in Nevada and California which I imported and registered in France. This was only possible because it is (much) older than 30 years old.


I would add that there is much talk… as to whether or not FFVE (Fédération Français de Véhicules d’ Epoque) are definitely going to be issuing Attestations to every vehicle that suddenly comes into the “30 year” group.

@Roland_SALVATO … what have you done with the 2006 Mini Cooper?? have you taken it to the DREAL?

The inspectors there are generally very helpful.

Hi Stella,

By any criteria I’ve seen already, the Mini Cooper is legal and ready to be licensed.

The DREAL personnel were not at all helpful over the phone and said they just wanted me to fill out the long, detailed form requesting information about my Mini Cooper. They said then – once my form was complete – they would schedule an appointment and answer any questions. I was disappointed they would not answer my questions over the phone, thus potentially saving everyone loads of time. In any case, the car passed its mechanical evaluation and since I am not in France at the moment I will need to pursue that final final final certification when I return to France in the future. Too bad it’s so mysterious…if I knew their criteria I would step up and take care of it, but when I asked for details over the phone, the respondent was unwilling or unable to provide further information.


L’impolitesse est l’imitation de force d’une personne faible.


Are you saying it was cheaper for you to buy a French car in Belgium in than in France?

It seems that buying any used car might be risky, given the ever-changing technical criteria.

Thanks again.

L’impolitesse est l’imitation de force d’une personne faible.

The guy who runs my’ local garage’ imports new cars from Belgium into France at a considerable saving. He does all the paperwork, brings the car in from Belgium, arranges the carte grise etc; at a considerably lower price than I could buy a car here. It’s legal, easy and a big saving. It helps that he is a Belgian :slight_smile:

What do you mean by ever changing technical criteria? Since the end of the 1990s all cars within the EU have been issued with a Certificate of European Conformity that confirms that they meet EU standards. A car bought in any EU country that is new enough to have a CoC can be imported into and registered in any EU country. The CoC confirms that the car conforms in terms of emissions, crash test safety, glass, lights, mirrors etc, etc. A car sourced outside the EU is unlikely to meet the EU specification and can only be registered once every item matches the standard. Older EU registered cars which are pre CoC are harder to register in France but are usually OK if the manufacturer confirms that the same or similar model was sold in France. As mentioned cars from outside the EU that were not built for the EU market can be impossible to register. This is even harder when the vehicle is sold as a private car in one market but a commercial vehicle in France.

Wow, Ann, where do you live? We live right next to Rodez.

L’impolitesse est l’imitation de force d’une personne faible.