Buying and Selling Cars in France 



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FACT FILE: Buying and selling cars in France

See also: Driving in France and Monaco

For a French registered car to be driven legally on the road, it will need a carte grise, insurance and a vaild contrôle technique.

The Carte Grise - Certificat d'immatriculation- When you own a French (registered) car you are obliged to arrange for a new carte grise that registers the vehicle in your name at your address at the préfecture. This procedure must be completed within 15 days of the sale. The price of the carte grise depends on the size of the engine.

Registration of a new car -The dealer from whom you bought the car from, should arrange the issue of a new carte grise.

Registration of a second hand / used car - (Voiture d'occasion) If you purchase a used car from a dealer, they should issue you with a carte grise. If you purchased it privately then the following procedure applies: You must go to the préfecture or sous-préfecture with the following documents.

  • Cancelled carte grise that came with the car (don't purchase one without this- it could be a stolen vehicle!)
  • Certificat de vente - sales certificate that was given to you by the seller.
  • photocopy of your passport.
  • Proof of address of residency - electricty - phone bill etc
  • Certificat de situation - available from the préfecture, this ensures that the car has no outstanding legal payments with it.

Contrôle Technique - A car over three years old must have a contrôle technique.This is to check that the card is road worthy. It must be completed every two years at an authorised garage. Check that your garage can carry out the contre-visite (the second visit after essential repairs have been carried out) is free. When your car passes the contrôle technique you are given a macaron - a sticker that is displayed on your windscreen. If you are planning to sell your car you must have a contrôle technique completed within 6 months of the sale.

Changes to French registration plates from 2009 - Black on White registration plates on French cars from 2009.

From the 15th April 2009 the department number will no longer be on the French registration plate. The registration plates will no longer be black on white at the front and black on yellow at the rear as in the UK, but black on white on the front and rear as in Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Poland and many other European countries.

From the 15th April 2009 the département number will no longer be on the French registration plate. The registration plates will no longer be black on white at the front and black on yellow at the rear as in the UK, but black on white on the front and rear as in Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Poland and many other European countries.

They are made up of two letters, three numbers and two letters these are separated by hyphens(e.g. DE-354-FG) and will be allocated to a vehicle for life unlike presently if the owner moves from département to département. The new plates do not contain any element that identifies where the car owner lives.The Government claimed that this would facilitate police dealing with stolen or suspect vehicles. There was opposition from the suppression of department numbers (75,62,48,06 etc) on the registration plates and there was a Government climbdown. A car owner may add the official logo of their a French département to the their new style plate together with the département number below it on the right hand side of the number plate. This does not have to be the département where the owner lives.

Second hand cars: (voiture d'occasion) The new regulations apply to second hand cars from the 15th June 2009 will get these as well when la carte gris (registration document) is updated with a new address or owner.

If you are moving to France from another EU country you can keep your old British, Irish, German registration plates, but you must display where relevant Contrôle Technique. However if you are caught by a speed camera, don't think your foreign plates will help you.According to Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau the British are the worst followed by the Germans. Drivers will be tracked down to their French home address or via the home country of the registration plate.

N.B. This information should not be relied on for accuracy and is presented here without the responsibility of jml Property Service and the website it is being displayed at. ©jml property Services 07-05

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Editors Note - October 2016

If you are looking for a company to transport packages, furniture and classic cars from the south of France to England or vica versa our family has used Riviera Transport. Based in Biot and Portsmouth they are a very efficient company Find out more here


See also:

Registering a "Foreign" Car in France

Transfering ownership of a French registerd car

Identifying car hire cars in France HERE

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