Driving in France?
Import, Register, and Insure Your Car
Importing Your Car: All the Requirements
If you would like to move to France with your own car and take up residence there, be sure that the vehicle complies with French safety and road regulations. After half a year, you count as a French resident and have to register the car.
But, as with all imported goods, your car needs to go through customs first. If you come from an EU or EEA country, there are no formalities involved, and you are usually exempt from any customs duties or similar fees.
If you have lived in a third-country (non-EU) state for at least 12 months, you can still bring your car and your personal belongings to France — but you must go through customs first. In case you move to France on a permanent (i.e. not-seasonal) basis, you may be able to import your car VAT and duty free under specific circumstances. Ask at the French Embassy or Consulate in your home country, or the French customs office, if the following conditions for car imports apply to you:
- The vehicle is intended for personal use.
- You have been living outside the EU for more than 12 months before you come to France.
- You have owned the car for at least six months.
- You have paid all applicable taxes (e.g. sales tax, road tax, etc.) abroad.
- The car is listed in the complete and detailed household inventory, which you have to show to customs. The inventory must be signed, dated, and in duplicate, and it should describe the car (e.g. model, year, value, serial number, etc.).
- You also have to fill out the form 10070 for the customs office.
In addition to the form mentioned above, you need to bring along the following documents:
- a personal ID
- proof of your previous residence
- proof of your long-term residence in France
- the sales receipt/invoice for your car
- the foreign car registration certificate
Then you need to wait for a customs clearance certificate, which will be sent to your home within a couple of weeks.
If you are not granted an exemption from customs duties and taxation, you’ll have to pay import tax according to the value of your car, as well as 19.6% of VAT.
Making It Official: Registering Your Car
Once you have received a clearance certificate from the nearest customs office, you should begin the vehicle registration (immatriculation) process immediately. You will need:
- proof of identity
- proof of address/residence in France
- a completed application form 13750*03
- a customs certificate
- a certificate 846A (only for new vehicles imported from a non-EU state — you’ll get this from the customs office)
- a receipt that VAT and customs duty have been paid (if applicable)
- an invoice, sales receipt, official ownership transfer, etc.
- the original car registration certificate
- a car manufacturer’s certificate of conformity (stating that the car is in accordance with French/European technical and environmental standards)
- a certificate of contrôle technique (a technical check-up exam at a local garage for cars from outside the EU/EEA)
Once you have gathered the above information, go to your local préfecture and apply for a registration certificate. Officially, this document is called certificat d’immatriculation, but people still refer to it as a carte grise (“grey card”), though it is now actually a pale orange color. This card is the French vehicle registration. It will be sent to your home once the registration has been approved.
There are certain costs involved in registering a car. These vary from case to case as they are calculated according to a formula that takes several factors into consideration, e.g. regional taxes, CO2 tax for protecting the environment, administration fees, etc. The SIV website (Système d’Immatriculculation des Véhicules — Car Registration System) provides an overview of all the costs.
If your car is an unusual or old model that might not pass the certificate of conformity or the technical exam, it might be easier and cheaper just to lease or buy a car in France. So be sure to keep that in mind before you begin the import and registration process!
Last but Not Least: Insuring Your Car
The minimal car insurance that is mandatory in France is third party liability insurance. You are covered if you cause damage or harm to passengers, pedestrians, other drivers, or property in an accident.
There are many different insurance companies in France. The best way to go about finding one is to search for an insurance agency in your area and get a free quote, as the type and cost of insurance depends on many factors. For example, you can also insure your car against theft, glass breakage, or fire. More importantly, you can upgrade your policy to include dommages accidentels (i.e. all damages to the car, regardless of who caused them).
As a citizen of a European Union member state or any other member state of the Green Insurance Card system, you have the option of using your carte verte. It is the international car insurance card for all European countries and other member states. If you plan on staying in France for a longer period of time, though, it is probably best to apply for French car insurance.
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