Importing the car from America is fine...just be prepared for French confusion about insurance

Importing a car temporarily is an important option when visiting France, and the shipping companies will be happy to arrange delivery, for prices ranging from $1500 to $6500 depending upon where you need the car to arrive.

The French Government is cooperative too, stating quite clearly on their official website that your car--assuming you are a visitor--does not need to undergo French alterations for the road such as safety, emissions, licensing (license plates) or registration. The intent is to save you--as a visitor--the trouble of bureaucratic irresolution, time and money.

But -- the French Government ALSO requires any vehicle operating in France to be insured. And there is the catch. Most insurers, both in France and in the USA, will not issue insurance for an American vehicle in France, regardless of whether it is temporary or permanent, if it doesn't meet French emissions and safety requirements.

Does this sound like "Catch-22"? For Americans, it is.

Please stay tuned for the resolution of this bureaucratic-insurance conundrum!

Next Time: Why Would An American Import a Car Temporarily to France?

Turns out that our temporary auto import scheme has worked well. We have kept our California plates, my California driver's license, my California registration...and finally found an insurance company who understands the business well enough to sell us pro-rated insurance to meet the French laws.

Importing a vehicle temporarily into France is more cost effective and much easier than either purchasing one here or renting a vehicle long-term. The total cost was $1800 (about €1900) from port to port, including fees. If we decide to move to France and decide to use this car, we will leave it here then obtain the necessary paperwork to legalize it a la francaise.

I can’t wait to read why anyone would bother.