MX-5 to France?

Hello. This is my first post, I think. We are moving to France and planned on bringing my beloved MX-5 but a friend tells me it is far better to sell it and buy one in France. It will have the steering wheel on the correct side, be on French plates, acceptable to insurance companies, won’t need to be brought back to the UK for an (annual) MOT, etc. I guess he’s right. Is there a website like Autotrader in France?

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A good place to start is leboncoin, website below. It’s not just for cars but will have a lot of choice. Be prepared to be shocked by the prices though!


Bring it - my one regret is selling my old Mark 1 when we moved. Its not that hard to re register it - assuming its not a Eunos /Grey Import. There’s enough threads on the paperwork to read.

They cost a fortune here relative to the UK second hand - the steering wheel is the only question - it does remove a lot of the fun of narrow roads being on the wrong side.

Mine was ancient and I thought the trouble was too much - and it was worth bugger all in the UK - and it needed money spending on it - so I gave it away - and regret it daily. You’ll end up buying something dull and sensible you fill with stuff at the Brico - but you still can’t get a 5 metre bamboo in an SUV and you definitely can in a MX5

Bring it! You can get it re-registered onto french plates and then everything is easy. No road tax, equivalent of MOT every two years and car insurance straightforward. If you are planning to move here permanently, ie become resident, then keeping your car on UK plates is illegal.

We are moving over permanently. That’s the issue.

It’s not an issue…well I can’t see one. With the price of cars here lots of people bring their cars with them and re-register. Driving a RHD just means taking extra care overtaking, and turning right onto a main road.

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Bring it.

I had a Mk3 and I loved it. I have looked at buying another one in France and there really aren’t many for sale and what is available is low spec and expensive.

The wheel on the wrong side is a pain. I bought a RHD Mercedes 320 SL W123 new in 2000 at enormous expense because my 1998 230 CLK that I’d replaced my E220 with was such shoddy quality compared to earlier models. I justified the cost by telling myself I’d keep it forever and in due course reregistered her over here. Nevertheless, despite her low milage and being in pristine condition I took her back and sold her three years ago just because the RHD was just too much of a hassle. I did the same with a rally prepared 1970 Cooper S I had. I miss both cars but I only have LHD here now.

What do I do in the interim? Do I get a green card from my insurance company and seek out an insurance company in France when I get there? Is it easy to get insurance with English plates until I get it reregistered?

I find similar cars in France are twice the price! Are they cheaper in Germany, for example, and could I buy one there are bring it to France? I need to keep Milly until I buy another one, at least.

I have just sorted out car insurance with @Fabien - it was a simple process

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No problem getting insurance on UK plates Graham. My experience is that French insurance companies will cover you on UK plates for six months to give you time to sort out the registration. Some may even give you longer. I bought a new Golf GTD in the UK in 2010 and brought her to France almost immediately. When I went to the French tax authorities they pointed out I should have paid VAT in France not the UK. The correct procedure would have been to pay the VAT again here and reclaim from the UK but I suspect that’s a messy process. The nice people in the French tax office told me to just go away and come back in seven months :wink:

The car was insured through a Axa agent, a nice eldely chap but during the seven months he retired and his officious son took over and started hassling me when the car reached six months on UK plates. We had a row and I cancelled the insurance for my house and several cars there and then and went across the road to MAAF and reinsured everything. They had no issues about the Golf’s plates. A few months later I got the tax clearance from the Tax folk and registered the Golf here.

I’ve also imported a car from Germany and one from Italy without any problems. The Italian one was slightly more complicated because they have two “registration” certificates. The trick is to make sure what documentation the French require and then make sure the foreign vender will supply you with it before you buy.

Wow, be careful with that kind of advice @John_Scully, driving with an imported vehicule for more than 3 months with a French insurance is a felony. You are legally obliged to be able to present a French carte grise 1 month after the car was officially imported and getting the car insured with a French insurer is proof of importation date (from at least the date the insurance got started). Don’t trust my words trust the government’s .

Pass the 1 month milestone you can get a fine, past the 3 months milestone that’s a felony… NO insurer in France will tolerate more than 3 months to get the carte grise presented to them as this is simply illegal BUT SOME AGENT might look the other way… which doesn’t make this any less illegal in case you’re pulled over by law enforcement :wink:

That being said it’s perfectly ok to insure a vehicle that’s not French registered but you should be able to get it registered in France within 30 days, 90 days being the very max legal tolerance :wink:


Well, I’m not really giving advice Fabien, I’m just recounting my experience as I would over the dinner table. I leave advice to the professionals :slightly_smiling_face: This was in 2010 and the rules may well have changed but I’ve no doubt your information on the law is correct.

Your comment does cause me pause for thought on two other points though. In my experience there’s a difference in the general attitude towards rule compliance in France and the UK. I think the UK is closer to enforcing full compliance whereas in France a greater degree of judgment is required on which rules really matter and which are “flexible”.
The French approach means that things don’t always work to the letter of the law and a pragmatic approach is taken, as did the nice people in my local tax office. I don’t think HMRC would have just sent me off for six months. I’ve read of British people struggling with French situations when I know a local would just shrug their shoulders and ignore the issue.

The second point is to what degree should one worry before “giving advice” on this (or any other) forum. The last thing one would want is to have to put a disclaimer on every post :confused: but you’re right, one wouldn’t want someone to go off and do something daft based on a comment one had made. I don’t thing the defence “I read it on Survive France” would get you too far.


MX-5 is a lovely little car. Bring it with you… make sure you Insurer covers it for coming to France… then once you are here… get on and Register it and put it on French Insurance.

Driving with the wheel on the RHS means that you (the driver) know exactly where you on on the roads…(unlike so many others who drive in the middle of the road.) You are sitting alongside the Fosse/Ditch !

I’ve been driving my RHD car, here, for 20 years with no problems whatsoever. Folk ask me about overtaking… and I simply say… I overtake when it is safe to do so… that is how it is. No problem !!

Mine is a little SLK… goes like a dream… love it…

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Sorry about my tone @John_Scully, didn’t mean to seem difficult it’s just that since Sept. 2018 (not exactly, typing from memory) there is that thing called the FVA (it existed before but it’s now enforcable) and the status of a vehicule and its insurance will be systematically checked against that database if you get pulled over or got a ticket or any kind of control you might endup with… and if that happens with an imported vehicule, they’ll automatically now when the vehicule was imported (insurance start date) and therefore will also see that (if the plates aren’t French) the person is either eligible for a ticket or is a felon and that FVA law since late 2018 will make sure prosecutions happen every single time… it’s basically 0 tolerance from the state so that’s why I’m twice as cautious now because, as you said, if you don’t get caught it’s always great but the consequences now are potentially much morse and one doesn’t want to start his/her French life by some kinf of conviction for felony wouldn’t he/she? :wink:


My SL was more than quick enough for overtaking not to be a problem and road positioning was never an issue either nor autoroute tolls with a badge but car parks were a complete pain. The SL wasn’t my daily driver but nevertheless RHD got to me. Horses for courses I guess Stella. I like the SLKs. My wife considered one when they were announced but she needed a bit more space. They had the same clever 2.3 Kompressor motor as my CLK.

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I didn’t find anything wrong with your tone Fabien :slight_smile: and thank you for the information. I’ve no foreign registered cars now so I’m in the clear and I’ve usualy been prompt in registering any I’ve imported. Based on this new info I’ll make sure not to be tardy with any new acquisition too :wink:


I brought our MX5 over about four years ago and registered it in France, it wasn’t rocket science, today it’s done mainly on line. Ours is RHD and driving on narrow lanes, you can see the edge of the ditches and have less chance of going into one, sure it’s more difficult overtaking, but you just hold back until you can see the roads clear, but then again, your in France, so what’s your hurry?

Thank you very much Mick. Very reassuring. Is there a club for MX-5s over there, or at least two door drop tops?