UK Gov announce changes to driving licences

Friends, if you have hung onto your UK driving licence and the photo card has expired, you may wish to read the UK Gov web site below.

The news is that from June 2015 the counterpart (the paper bit) will no longer be valid, so you may find yourself with no valid licence (that's how I read it).

Any older paper versions (pre photo card licence) will remain in force.

The details are here. Important UK driving licence changes

Have a great day.

Hi Veronique, the address on your UK license will naturally be incorrect if you live here but it does not affect its legitamacy (see my post here earlier). A french address cannot be put on a UK license.

When it comes to matters of law I prefer to get my information from the horse's mouth, not from a horse's *rse!

Changing your UK licence can be fraught in other ways - I have dual nationality, I was born with it, that means I am simultaneously 100% British AND 100% French. I passed my driving test in the UK, because that was where I happened to be living - when I went to the sous-pref to change my licence I was told I'd have to have a letter from the Fr Consulate to explain what I was doing in UK & why I passed my test there & not here in France. Or else have an official Fr document with ID value saying I'm a UK citizen (which I am, as well, but that's not the point & I can see a conflict with my carte d'identité looming should I be stopped...) so I still have my manky old paper licence (I've never had a photocard) with an out-of-date address & THAT doesn't seem to bother anyone but me.

Hi Maureen, it is the french government which makes the law & their website states quite categorically that a UK license IS valid provided that it is in date etc. Your insurance company has no right to change the law, neither does a gendarme or a person at the prefecture. They cannot just decide that they will not accept your perfectly valid license. Axa, also french, have no problem with my UK pink paper license as indeed they should not.

You have complied with the regulations!!! If you need something in writing why not download & print this from the French government (they who make the rules)

Les permis de conduire délivrés par les autres pays de l'Espace économique européen (EEE) sont reconnus en France. La personne qui réside en France, titulaire d'un permis de conduire obtenu dans un autre pays européen, peut circuler avec. Elle doit toutefois respecter certaines conditions. Elle peut demander l'échange de son permis national contre un permis français. Mais ce n'est pas une obligation, sauf exception.

Driving licenses issued by other countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) are recognized in France. A person who resides in France, holds a driving license obtained in another European country may drive. However, it must meet certain conditions. It may request the exchange of his national license against a French license. But this is not an obligation, without exception.

The above is from here

It should carry more weight than a letter from an insurance clerk with little knowledge of the law!

I cannot understand why you think that your insurance company is a higher authority than the Government!

Why risk having an accident and finding out your insurance is void if you do not comply with the regulations. If you have something in writing you are covered.

It seems that some agency's cannot give you the correct information. I would sooner be safe than sorry.

Hello Marc,

I have held a full clean British Licence for 50 years, no driving offences , I have read all the links from other members of this site, and my insurance and the licence authority have told me that I must now have a French licence. I have asked them why when I am British born and bread, and a member of the European community. They say that my UK licence is not written in French and not acceptable in a French court of Law if needed, that is why you can no longer translate your own licence?

I pointed out that the licence codes were universal, the DVLA in the UK told me that since the change in the law back in January 2014 my licence was not valid after 1 year living in France. My Australian friend has a British Passport, he was told the same. My American friend, I understand that she is not an EU member, even though she now lives here, she had to have a French licence, and when she now goes back to Texas, she has to use an International licence to drive in the USA. I have lots of evidence showing the problems I have had.

I finally wrote back to Marseilles, the licence authority I come under. in December 2014, telling them that I did not know what else they wanted from me, it was so easy for me to change my husbands licence when he was 70. I even took all my paperwork to Marseilles waited all morning to speak to someone and confirm that they were happy with my dossier, they said yes, but I must send it in by post, I did as I was advised, and it was rejected after being told it was OK. So I contacted the DVLA yet again, they sent me a mail which I translated, for the authorities in Marseilles, and sent to them, and finally they accepted my application and gave me a French licence.

As I have already said, you should check with your insurance company here, and ask them, your insurance is very important, MAAF insist on a French licence. Incidentally, if you are using a UK address to apply for a British licence and you do not live there, you can be find £2,000 and receive a prison sentence.

Once you tell the licence authority that you live in France, you will not be able to change any information on your British Licence, I was going to apply for an international licence, but I was not able to, because I had told the DVLA that I now live in France. Your UK Licence is frozen but valid, until the French authorities confirm that they have granted you a French licence. You need evidence to show that you are in the process of applying for a French licence, that will be enough for the police if you are stopped.


Maureen, do you have a license from a non EEC country? If your license was issued by a non EEC country you either have one year to exchange it if there is an exchange agreement in place, or you will have to take a french test.

Here is a list of all non EU countries who can exchange licenses

With regard to valdity of driving licenses why take the word of an insurance clerk over that of those who make the laws - the French Government? All the up-to date info on when & how to change your license is here Print this out & show it to the police - at least it has some credence.

Hello Jan,

I have just received my French licence after 15 months of conflict wit the authorities here. I would advise you to ask your insurance company here. Since the changes to the rules in January 2013, I understand in different regions that conflicting information is being given out.

I am insured with MAAF, I have been with them for almost 12 years, they advised me that if I had an accident, and I had not got a French licence, my insurance would be void!

I have an Australian friend, and an American friend insured with AXA, they were told the same thing. We were advised that after 1 year, driving on a licence from another country, we must change to a French licence.

I found that the department for the French Driving licence rejected all my paperwork on a regular basis even though I had sent them everything they asked for. Even down to their request for a translation of my UK licence by an official court registered interpreter.

Write to your insurance, so that they put their reply in writing and you have proof if stopped by the police. My view is, even if the licence people are telling you that you do not need to change your licence, then at the end of the day, if you comply with the insurance provider, you are covered.

When my husband was 70, I changed his licence for him, it was very easy and quick, now it is complicated with in certain Regions, I put that down to lack of training and understanding of the new laws, we live in Provence, and come under Marseilles.

Good luck Maureen.

It is quite simple - it used to be that a photocard license consisted of 2 bits, the credit card sized bit & the paper bit with ancilliary info. The paper bit was necessary because mobile computer access was not available in the old days. Now, one can check databases from practically anywhere so the paper bit is no longer necessary. If you have the even older, non photo license IT IS ALSO STILL VALID!

And if your license is still valid in the UK it is still valid in France & the rest of Europe as it has been since 1997.

If you have any doubts read this below - it is produced by the French government themselves, & as it is their country they should know!

This gives you the information you need :-

"La personne qui possède un permis de conduire délivré par un autre pays de l'Espace économique européen (EEE) peut demander son échange contre un permis français équivalent, sous certaines conditions. La demande d'échange est facultative. , sauf en cas d'infraction routière entraînant une mesure de restriction, de suspension, d'annulation du permis ou une perte de points.

Please note the sentence "Ce n'est pas une obligation" (It is NOT obligatory)

Just chuck the supplimentary paper piece of your photo license away & carry on driving.


Ye Gods it's a minefield, I've read all the replies and still no nearer a conclusion. When I first arrived I looked to change my licence and the lady at the Prefecture in Evreux said it was not necessary. A couple of years later I was stopped in a random police check, the gendarme said I had to change my licence for a french if I was a resident, so I returned to Evreux only to told the police were wrong and she gave me a paper leaflet to produce if I was ever stopped again and I had the right to drive until I was 70 so long as nothing significant happened that would render me unable to drive. I suppose another trip back to Evreux is in order in light of the new changes for yet more clarification.... :(

Until you are 70, then the fun begins.

Just to clarify, my license was issued before the introduction of the two part photo license, of which both parts constituded the license. The photo part has to be renewed every ten years but you retained the paper bit which held a record of any offences committed etc. In June this year that extra info will be held on computer so that there is now no need for the additional paper bit. The previous paper only license is still valid.

Of course, Courtney. DVLA cannot renew a photo license to a non-UK resident so you will have to exchange it for a French one. As you no longer have a vald license you are liable to a fine. The "pendantic JW" was quite correct not to accept your now invalid license!

The question is how do you actually prove French residency to your average copper? I have asked this too & have only had the reply that if I live here the section referring to the valid UK address does not apply. It will only take one JW copper!

Valid photo ID would be your passport as it is for me here. The old pink UK paper license is still a valid drivers license.

Hi Mark

Agree, but this is mostly about the photocard portion of the licence not the paper one. You do not have to change the paper portion, however, you cannot renew your photo card portion on expiry if not UK based. So if the paper portions are to be deemed invalid from June, and your photocard portion is out of date... surely you have no valid licence.

Mine has expired and most car hire companies ignore that and allow me to hire (that's in the UK not sure how that situ would play out here). I did have an issue in UK once with car hire and a pedantic JW who told me they would not accept my licence next time I hired! Laughable as I spoke to their HQ and they said this was not the case.
The other point is if you visit UK and drive you must have a valid photo ID, I think it's a £1000 fine if you don't so not sure how you would get around that other than having a french licence. Any clues?

OK, fair enough but I think I will concur about his view that it is 'local'. There are no exact standards sometimes, which is infuriating but then no higher authority to tell the departments they are out of step with the real regulations.

It is not compulsory to change to a French license if your UK "EU" license is valid.

The French do not have to inform their licensing department if they change address so the address on a UK license is of no consequence if you are a French resident.

As the letter to Mark from DVLA states, you have to confirm requirements with the authority in country of residence.

Marks previous link confirms the requirements.

However It has never been explained to me what would happen if stopped whist back in UK with UK license with invalid address even if one could prove French residency.

I don't peruse this forum much lately but this subject often gets bogged down on many forums (forii) usually because someone has had a bad experience and thinks it is the norm. For what it is worth I still have my UK license which will have to be changed next year (70) it has not been questioned at roadside Gendarme checks or by three different insurance companies over the past 7 years.

I took this anomily up with my old MP as I was getting nowhere with DVLA. He kindly wrote to them & was sent this reply.

Hello John,

like I said I am not trying to confuse anyone, quite simply, all people have to do is ask their insurance company, and they will know if they can use their UK licence. In fact they can ask the DVLA as well.

The translator I used for my Licence is a very nice lady, and very supportive, she works for the courts in Aix en Provence, and she said that the system in France is not easy, in fact it can be quite complicated!

It's partly true though Mark, if you don't have a UK address?

Quite right Maureen, and thank you for sharing it, it is important but it does sound a little like your local lot had you jumping through all sorts of hoops to do it compared to others but that's france.