Ministerial response to driving license exchange

Morning all

After contacting my MP and several government ministers, I have received a response from Baroness Vere of Norbiton, Minister of roads, buses and places.

Thought you might like to read it

Thank you for your email of 16 March, enclosing correspondence from your constituent, Mr Andrew Whitby about exchange arrangements for UK licence holders living in France.
Discussions took place with all EU Member States, including France, to agree arrangements from 1 January 2021. Given the uncertainties whilst these negotiations were ongoing, UK residents living in EU countries were encouraged to exchange their valid licences for a local one before 31 December 2020.

The majority of EU countries have agreed that UK licence holders, resident in the EU, will not need to take a test to exchange their licence for a local one. Department for Transport officials are making every effort to reach a swift understanding with France regarding long-term reciprocal licence exchange arrangements for UK licence holders resident in France.

While those discussions are ongoing, the French Government has confirmed that UK licence holders resident in France can continue to use their UK licence until 1 January 2022, provided that it remains valid in the UK.

Currently, you may have to take a driving test to obtain a French licence to enable you to drive after your UK licence has expired.

More information can be found in the French government’s guidance on driving licences (in French). As you are aware, The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency are unable to renew UK licences if the holder does not have a UK address.

The British Embassy in Paris are fully aware of the situation and is in the process of clarifying the approach to exchanging expired UK licences. When available, updates will be made to the Living in France guide on GOV.UK.

Now I know I am starting to knock on a bit, but throughout the negotiations, we were advised NOT to exchange our licenses unless

The licence had been lost
The licence was about to expire
You had committed a driving offence and needed points on your licence

This was the information given out by the Government and confirmed at a British Embassy outreach meeting in Caen.

The prospect of taking a driving test in French at my age is a no-no.

I have replied with my comments, but feel that, having followed HMG advice, we find ourselves in a very dodgy position.

Keeping fingers crossed is the best we can do.

Have a great day all



The UK Government also said at one point that they had reached an agreement with the French Government.
You cannot believe anything they say which leaves us all those who have followed their advice unable to drive.
Perhaps you would like to reply to Baroness Vere of Norbiton and ask her if she would like to be without transport if she lived in a deeply rural area?


I shall be contacting Baroness Vere this weekend to let her know my views.

Her email address is:

Perhaps if her email inbox is flooded with correspondence, she might feel inclined to adopt a more positive approach!

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Fortunately we exchanged our licences several years ago when we realised that the French licence gave us many more years without the compulsory medical.
I think that what has happened is appalling.


It’s a bit difficult to take anybody (outside of a Wodehouse novel) called Baroness Vere of Norbiton seriously. In her favour however, she was a remainer.

My English grammar is failing me too these days. I would have thought “the Embassy is aware” or that the people in the Embassy are aware? Init?

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Hi Nigel

Her response to me came from

Might be best address ?


Tricky, this. I maintain that English is increasingly dispensing with singular conjugations, having got rid of genders [hooray!] and almost all other conjugation [fab!]

It is now established usage, even in the written output of institutions such as the BBC and ‘quality’ newsapers, that sports teams - football, rugby, F1 et al - are plural.

" Wales win title as Scotland beat France"[BBC] - should be “Wales wins” “Scotland beats” " Wales claim Six Nations crown" [D. Telegraph] should be "Wales claims 

Same goes for entities such a ‘The Cabinet’, ‘The Government’. “The Cabinet were unanimous 

In the Oxford Book of Style we have the conundrum - is it “the audience rose to its feet” or “
 their feet”? It says that either will do. But it does say that it is “the audience resumed their seats”

The image of the entire audience trying to resume its seat 

Hi Andy,
thanks - I’ll send my email to both of the addresses.


Yes, I suppose it’s a moving target and what I was taught sixty years ago may no longer apply. I wondered if Embassy was being used as a collective noun, as in an embassy of diplomats.

Not just advice. The French team at Nantes wouldn’t accept any applications apart from these categories from end of 2018 (I think) until new portal opened in late 2019 until closed by Brexit. I managed to squeak in just before, but OH had his application returned.

I don’ think you can actually take a french test until your current licence has expired. But it maybe that you only have to take the practical element, so that should be doable. And if it isn’t, should you actually be driving?

Hi Jane

On driving test.

I think my driving skills are quite good. My problem would be the French theory test. I think I would have a major problem with that . I have been told the is no exemption from that ?


You might be right
I hadn’t looked! But with a bit of preparation a theory test should be straightforward? And you don’t have to go through expensive process of lessons, just take the tests


Si votre pays n’a pas d’accord avec la France, aprĂšs un an de rĂ©sidence, vous devrez passer des examens thĂ©oriques et de conduite pour obtenir un permis de conduire français. L’épreuve Ă©crite peut ĂȘtre passĂ©e par vous-mĂȘme en Ă©tudiant le Code de la Route. Il existe Ă©galement plusieurs outils en ligne payants qui peuvent vous aider Ă  vous prĂ©parer Ă  l’examen Ă©crit.

Vous devrez passer par la prĂ©fecture ou une auto-Ă©cole pour obtenir le formulaire d’inscription Cerfa 14866*01, que vous devrez prĂ©senter avec une piĂšce d’identitĂ© ou un permis de sĂ©jour, un certificat mĂ©dical confirmant que vous ĂȘtes apte Ă  conduire, deux photos rĂ©centes format passeport et deux enveloppes prĂ©adressĂ©es. Certaines Ă©coles s’adressent aux anglophones, sinon vous pouvez demander un traducteur Ă  votre prĂ©fecture.

The reply from the Baroness is sadly a stock copy and paste reply that every government official approached on the subject ,lazily uses.

I have sent an email and asked for a copy of the original agreement where we were told we could keep our licenses and the new agreement that says that we have to change.
I won’t be holding my breath on a reply but I won’t be leaving this drop, I’m sure if they can raise the issue of musicians being able to come across to do concerts as they always used to, I think us mere mortals deserve similar concern.

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