Keeping a car in France


Can anyone help? We live in the UK, but have a property in France. We currently get hammered each time we fly over by car hire charges. As a result we were thinking of buying a car in the UK, and bringing it over to France and leaving it here for use when we visit. If we were to do this, can we;

Register, tax insure and MOT the car in France? Anything else that we would need to do?

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Are you asking about doing these things under the UK regime or the French?


We are thinking of doing the same - car hire charges seem to vary between 8-35 euros per day depending on time of year. I have been told before that the break even point is being in France for 12 or more weeks per year - do bear in mind parking at the airport or transfers from airport to your house.

There seem to be very few second hand cars available in France as sensible prices so I continue to trawl AutoTrader in UK - you will need to get a Certificate of Conformity.

Hi Graham

Preferably under French so we don’t have to bring the car back to the UK to get Mot’d every year.

Hi Mat

Thanks for your reply.

We have a way of avoiding airport parking charges in the UK.

I agree re the price of French cars. You can buy a half reasonable car in the UK for c ÂŁ1.5K which we would then take over.

Who do you approach for the certificate of conformity?

Then why not consider buying the car in France?

Ă  la prochaine !

Just throwing another idea into the melting pot…

We have an American family who spend 10 weeks here, every year. They found it was cheaper to lease a car for the 10 weeks, rather than hire one…

No idea how this works… only know that they designate what car spec they want and they spend less than they used to … they pick-up and drop-off the car at Charles de Gaulle airport, on the way in and the way out…:slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Used cars seem to be a lot more expensive to purchase in France that the UK.

Used cars, purchased in France, come with French Registration and Contrôle Technique … all done and dusted…yippee.

If you’ve done any searching on this forum, you will know what problems can and do (sometimes) arise for the UK older cars…trying to get them registered. Legislation is getting tighter than ever.

Buy a car from a garage local to your holiday home. They will probably throw in some warranty too…

(I’ve just realised you are talking about spending £1.5k on a UK car… you might find real problems, since if it is that cheap it will be unlikely to conform in one way or another… to the French requirements.)

I strongly dispute that assumption.

Much depends on many things. If the car has to be certified for use in
France, there is a cost. Used cars in France from non coastal areas
don’t suffer in the same way from rust and corrosion saving money in the
long term.

And don’t forget the RHD car on right hand roads issue - pure madness!
The thought of driving a RHD car on French roads terrifies me! Our first
car we bought from a UK family returning to the UK a few weeks before we
left UK permanently.

Buying from a local French garagiste (as we have since done) saves so
much time and energy. They will register the car for you (remembering
that it all has to be done on line now) and will no doubt recommend a
suitable insurer. They will also arrange the French equivalent of the
MOT - Controle Technique (if required) on the vehicle.

An alternative is to buy a French registered LHD car in the UK from one
of the many sites providing this service.

Used cars do cost a little more in France it’s true (although exactly how much more, in real terms, obviously depends on the exchange rate on the day you buy it). I guess it depends on how much hassle it would be to get it conforme and registered, and also the expense of changing the headamps if you can’t find replacements on eBay, and whether you really feel that spending your time in France sorting all that out is worth the saving you make. There’s also the issue of which side the steering wheel is on, personally I don’t consider that to be an issue but I know some folk do.

Leaving it on UK plates isn’t really an option because of the insurance. French insurers won’t insure a car that you have no intention of immatriculating, and UK insurers won’t insure cars that are kept outside the UK. Giving your insurers a UK postcode where you say the car is normally parked overnight, when in fact it’s not left there overnight from one end of the year to the next, would not be a good idea.

I have to confess I’m finding it a bit hard to get my head round buying a holiday home in France and then baulking at French second hand cars prices, ha’porth of tar comes to mind, but one valuable thing about this forum is it helps one to appreciate that we all see things differently.

1 Like

I’ve recently had to upgrade my 18 year old LHD van and reluctantly bought a RHD one in the UK as it was 30% cheaper than buying a replacement LHD one here. The cost of changing the headlights and getting it registered here will be about 500 Euros so I reckon I will have saved 2.5k overall. I would have preferred to have LHD but the secondhand cost is just so high here, I simply couldn’t afford the difference and didn’t want to compromise on the age and kilometerage of the vehicle.

As the owner of a holiday home in France you are able to register and use a car in France. Whether you decide to buy a LHD car locally or a RHD car in the UK is a personal choice, there is no right or wrong way. Me, I’d buy a LHD car locally, others prefer to go through the hassle of importing and registering a UK sourced car.


Or you could buy LHD in the UK from a specialist dealer such as

I guess they are buying from people heading the other way :slight_smile:

I would go along with what others have said here. Buy locally in France it will save a lot of hassle.
Also don’t forget that a UK car with an MOT may not pass the very stringent new controle technique arriving here in May 2018.

Do you come to France often, and for how long ? It might work out cheaper in the long run to hire, I know you say you get hammered on cost, but have you checked all the French car hire sites ?

With a hire car you have 24/7 assistance and insurance included, plus the car will generally be up to date. Compare this with the cost of buying, the upkeep, depreciation, insurance , passing the new very strict controle technique …


Hi there.
I came to France a couple of years ago. I bought a 2nd hand left hand rive car from a company in the UK. The car originated in France so came with the certificate of conformity. I had it delivered to the UK and arranged for the RAC to check it over before I parted with any cash. Once the deal was done I drove it over to France. Then it was off to get the registration documents sorted out and new plates. Easy peasy!

1 Like

I have had this conundrum bouncing around in the brain cell for a few weeks ( reading all the posts on importing from uk to Fr , and the costs of used cars in Fr )…

and saw the same idea as Ray… if you can find a decent priced car in uk…but LHD and French registered, 70% of problem sorted ???
I found this website…and it may be easier to see from the ads, which country they are registered in.

One thing i am not sure on…you need to transfer ownership so you are recognised by the French system…and presume that is it ??? ( apart from insurance of course)…

Hi Pat,

A question or two, if i may. The ownership of the car…was it in the dealers name…or the original seller ?
Was there any issue of proving ownership of vehicle to register it in France ?
I have heard there is a system in place now where they make it difficult unless the original owner on the French system is selling it…or have i misread something somewhere.


If you buy a French reg car in the UK it’s vital to ensure that the paperwork is in order. Changing the registration of a French reg car into your name without the correct paperwork used to be impossible under the old system (ask me how I know), and presumably is no easier under the new system. You could almost say that having the correct paperwork is more important than the car itself, because if you can’t register it the car is not much use. Importing a UK car is always possible providing the car itself is conforme. As a last resort, if you buy a French car in the UK without the correct paperwork, you might even end up having to import it into the UK and then re-import it to France to bypass the missing paperwork.

As I understand it, the new ANTS system requires the seller to obtain a code and give this code to the buyer. I wonder how that will work if the sale is conducted through a garage in the UK?

It’s vital that you have the certificate of cessation in your name giving the name and address of the seller and signed by them. Under the new system the seller uses their copy to declare the sale and they are given a code to pass onto the buyer. Without this code you will get nowhere. The French system does not allow foreign garages to hold secondhand French registered vehicles so without access to the previous owner to fill in the form and sign the CG walk away however good a buy it appears.