US citizen - Driver's License for - less than 12-month stay

Hello, everyone – I’ve combed through a number of posts and resources elsewhere, still not 100% clear on this. I plan to be in FR with my spouse (she on a long-stay student visa, long-stay tourist for me) for no more than 12 months beginning Aug. We both currently hold California licenses (aware CA is not on reciprocity list). If I’m understanding correctly, for our purposes:

  • CA DLs are valid for up to 1 yr, then must apply for French DL only if we have plans to stay longer (likely not).
  • Must be accompanied by notarized translations.
  • Must show evidence of type of visa (i.e. passport)

Today I received guidance that obtaining an IDP from AAA is all that’s necessary, adding to the uncertainty.

Is this accurate? And, do we need to enroll in auto-insurance prior/during separate from general travel coverage?

Many thanks!

Hello Nira Maya

From whom did you get the information ?

Here’s the law on driving in France with a non-EU licence.

You should get to know this site. It will provide lots of answers to your questions.


Hi @Stella. From both a family friend who was in a similar situation but (too) many years ago and another forum, thus my uncertainty.

Mmm… things do sometimes get changed over the course of years. Your family friend may have got it right, if his recall is clear and things have NOT changed.

However, have you checked the French link that Mandy sent to you?

It lays out all the conditions with which you will need to comply. :hugs:

@anon92567933 - thanks so much. This answers it. Interesting they consider anything > 185 days as “normal residence.” In any event, my original understanding appears to be valid. Nothing needed for student Visa, a translation “légalisée” for tourist long-stay (mine). I interpret that to be “notarized.” Am I correct?

The remaining question: this means driving in FR is legal, would an IDP still be needed for driving in EU?

Sure did. Looks like a translation is in order :slight_smile:

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Get into good habits - starting right now :rofl::wink:

Living in France will be much more fun if you can understand (and possibly speak) French… :rofl::laughing::hugs:

However, understanding only comes after you have waded through a number of different French dictionaries - 'cos none of them have ALL the words in them - (well it was like that for me) :upside_down_face:

But in 2019 - the year of Enlightenment - you have the bonus of Google Translate - so give it your best shot :wink::relaxed::relaxed::relaxed:

I do speak French. It has been out of rotation for a little bit though. French bureaucratese, not a forte for sure. I do my best to dig up the info I need but occasionally I’ll need help, and grateful when I get it :slight_smile:

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Well, if you’ve got a grounding it will come flooding back once you really start to use it, so that’s great news.

Is your CA permit alright for driving all across America ? would it be alright in other countries??

You mention a IDP from AAA - what is that and what does it allow you to do???

No - it’s a bit more than that. Or, you could always search Traduction Assermentée.

Driving Licence info here:

As @anon92567933 says - use the SP website - especially as you speak French!

@anon87147852 I’m not why there’s an assumption I haven’t proceeded through these steps, but thank you! I ask if it’s the equivalent of notary because I’m already working with one here and if it’s one and the same - it’s far more efficient for me. The list of judicial experts would be useful if I were already in France.

and to note, per list, there appears to be one expert for english-french. That’s not somewhere I’m shipping personally identifiable info to.

ROUZET-LELIEVRE Monique (1953)*

Licence de lettres d’enseignement anglais, licence de langues étrangères
appliquées anglais-espagnol, diplôme de traducteur français-anglaisespagnol de l’École supérieure d’interprètes et de traducteurs de Paris
7 rue Pierre Bocher, 95230 Soisy-sous-Montmorency
Mail :

Don’t get you? There are loads of recognised translators around the country - there are 19 English-French interpreters listed in Paris alone (listings start page 287 on link below)

Anyway - the answer to your original question is that notaires don’t (normally) handle official translations.

Hi Nira Maya

“Si vous vous trouvez à l’étranger, vous pouvez consulter la liste des traducteurs agréés sur le site de votre consulat. La signature du traducteur devra être légalisée par le consulat.”

Sounds to me that you can do this in America - ???

Contact the French Embassy in US perhaps ???

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The IDP from AAA is a translation of one’s driving license that one can get from the American Automobile Association. It’s called an International Driving Permit, but that’s a bit of a misnomer as it is not issued by any DMV(Department of Motor Vehicles) or DOT (Department of Transportation), but by an automobile club.

Which countries accept this IDP ???

Surely there must be an American in France who is using an American DP ?? Just one will do… :thinking::rofl::rofl:

The IDP is used in conjunction with ones valid driving license if one is stopped by the police, and the language of the driving license needs translating for them. Here’s a link to one site that sells them(note ‘sells’ not ‘issues’)
From the website -

‘…the IDD is only a translation of a driver’s license and not a regular driver’s license. The IDD, without a currently valid driving permit is not a useful or valid document to present to any authority.’

Mmm… France talks about a translation by a “court approved” translator - so the IDP is possibly not any use in France.

There do not seem to be any Americans on the forum who have the experience/answers Nira Maya is seeking. :zipper_mouth_face:

Ah well - done our best :thinking::relaxed::relaxed:

Maybe they don’t realise the question relates to an American. No clue in the title of the post.

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Thanks so much everyone for your help. all set. US citizen = American, no?

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