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A large number of UK citizens moving to France prefer to bring their car with them, while others already living here buy cars in the UK. Registering your UK vehicle in France is not as traumatic as some may have you believe – providing you have all the correct documentation. This is a simple guide:

  1. Fit right-dipping headlights – stick-on beam deflectors are not acceptable. Check the cost of doing this in both countries before you import the car. It may be cheaper in UK.
  2. Send DVLA the appropriate part of the UK Registration Document (V5C) to request a Certificate of Permanent Export. This may take a few weeks to arrive in France.
  3. If you don’t have one with the car already, you will need a ‘Certificate of Conformity’, in French. This will probably have to come from the manufacturer’s main office in France. You should be able to find details on the internet. They will make a charge, possibly around 140 Euros.
  4. Note that Certificates of Conformity were introduced in 1996, so if you have a pre ’97 car, it may not have one. When you get the car here, insure it.
  5. Take the vehicle UK documentation (Registration Document and Certificate of Permanent Export) plus the bill of sale showing you as the purchaser in UK and the price paid, your passport and a utility bill to your local Centre des Impots (Tax Office). Ask for a ‘Quitus Fiscal’ (full title; ‘Cetificat D’Acquisition D’Un Vehicule Terrestre À Moteur’) which states that there is no TVA (Vat) due on it in France.
  6. If more than three years old, book it in for a CT (Control Technique or French ‘MOT’). You will need all the car documents to do this. You might consider having the headlight alignment re-checked first by your local garage – just in case. It will need a new CT every two years.
  7. Now you can apply for your Certificat d’immatriculation (was called Carte Grise). Go to google and download form Fiche signalétique du Formulaire n°13750*03. This is a pdf form that you fill in on-screen or by hand.
  8. Take all the above documents to your local Prefecture and join the queue. They will take your papers and if everything is in order, may give you a document showing your new French registration number. Otherwise, you new number will be on the Certificat d’immatriculation which will arrive by post in a week or two. They will also make a one-off charge which varies according to the size or type of car and its age (it is much less if the car is more than 10 years old), and can (according to some) vary from Prefecture to Prefecture.
  9. Buy your new number plates. It is illegal to attach them with screws or bolts – they must be pop-riveted. So it’s probably best to get them from a service centre which can fit them for you.
  10. Tell your insurance company that you now have French registration.

This all seems very long winded and it does cost money, so is it worth it? Well, the costs are one-off, there is no annual road tax in France and CTs (Mots) are every two years. If you work out the cost of taking the car back to UK every year just for an MOT and for the privilage of paying DVLC, then it almost certainly is worth it.

Quite apart from which, French law says if your home is in France, you have three months to register the car here.

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