How to Swap your UK Driving License for a French Permis du Conduire

If you’re living in France and have been here more than six months, you’re legally obliged to swap your UK license for a French one. I’d say that’s a little known fact. Most people don’t bother and while I’ve heard that that’s not usually a problem (and not something the gendarmes pulled me up on when I was stopped a few months back) it is a requirement, so could cause problems. So how to go about it?

The Process

The process of transferring your non-French license to a French one is actually pretty straight forward. The only complication, as with all things French, is collating all the paperwork involved and filling out the forms.

Getting Started

The two forms you need are Cerfa form No. 1487901 and Cerfa form No. 1494801. Both can be downloaded from Service-Public.fr, as with all these forms.

Along with the two completed forms you also need the following paperwork.

  • A double-sided colour copy of your current driving licence
  • Proof of identity, such as a copy of your passport or other ID card.
  • Proof of residence, such as an Attestation de Domicile, which you can get from your local mairie, or a carte de sejour.

If you are European, Swiss or Monegasque you must also provide proof that you have been resident in France for at least 6 months. Examples of this include a rental contract, employment contract, avis d’impôt, etc.

If you are not a European citizen, you must provide your residence permit or the Ofii sticker affixed to your passport.

You need three photos, two of which you are required to attach to the Cerfa forms.

If you live in the departments of Corse du Sud, Haute-Corse, Réunion, Guyane, Martinique, Mayotte, a cheque for the amount of the regional tax payable; otherwise no payment is needed.

In order to receive your license you must include one of the pink pre-stamped 50g prêt à poster lettre suivie envelopes (available from your local La Poste) labelled with your name and address.

That’s it. Now you’re ready to put it all together.

Completing the Paperwork

Cerfa 14948

As with so many French forms, there are a lot of boxes and it looks intimidating, but it’s actually fairly straight forward and standard stuff of an official document.

  • Give your surname (nom) and first name (prenom), address, etc.
  • Sign it.

Then there are the two extra fields common to all French administrative document:

  • Fait à is for the name of the town you are when signing; and,
  • le is the date.

For example, if you’re in Carccasone on 18th August 2018 you’d write:

  • Fait à Carcassone, le 18/08/2018

The lower part of the form is only necessary if a legal guardian or representative is completing the form on your behalf. In which case the information required is almost identical to that required in the first part of the form but with the other person’s details.

Attach your photograph to the space provided, and it’s ready.

Next, Cerfa 14879*01.

Cerfa 14879

This is the one where you need to provide details from your current non-French license.

First select from one of the following:

  • Échange d’un permis délivré par un État appartenant à l’UE ou l’EEE
         Select this if you are a resident of an EU country.
  • Échange d’un permis délivré par une collectivité d’Outre-mer ou par la Nouvelle-Calédonie
         Select this if you are a resident of French overseas territory or New Caledonia
  • Échange d’un permis délivré par un État n’appartenant ni à l’UE, ni à l’EEE, ni à une collectivité d’Outre-mer ni à la Nouvelle-Calédonie
    Select this option if you are none of the above.

Nationalié(s) au moment de lóbtention du permis is your nationality at the time your current license was issued. For me that means English (anglaise).

Nationalité(s) atuelle(s) is your current nationality. That’s English (anglaise) again for me as this hasn’t changed since my license was issued.

État de délivrance du titre à échanger means the country that issued your license.

Date dóbtention ou de deliverance means the date your current license expires.

No du permis de conduire is your current driving license’s number. On the UK license this is a long number starting with alphanumeric characters taken from your surname. It can be found on your driving license. On the UK card license it’s the field numbered 5.

The rest of the form involves completing the vehicle categories. When I first looked at this and compared it to my paper license my heart sank because there was no correlation. Then I flipped the card license over and, hey presto! There is a very similar looking table with matching categories. Copy them over one by one. The first columns are for the start dates and the second column for the end dates, with jour, mois, and année the day (e.g., 01), month (e.g., 02) and year.

Examples of UK driving license cards are on the Government website.

Card_01_960x640_01
A Sample Photocard License showing the Categories (From the Gov.uk Website)

When you’ve got all this information together, affix your photograph in the appropriate places and then send off the forms along with your supporting documents and, if needed, payment.

The address for sending it to is:

CERT EPE
TSA 63527
44 035 Nantes Cedex 1

let the waiting begin

How long you wait will depend on many factors. Word on various Expat forums suggesting anything between 8 weeks and 8 months! Don’t be disheartened by the fact that the administrative office handling this paperwork is known affectionately as “the black hole of Nantes”. They’ll get to it eventually!

and as for ours…

We sent our forms off in August and are waiting to hear back. A feature of French life is that things move slowly, especially when paperwork and the postal service are involved, so watch this space!


Main photo by Christa Dodoo on Unsplash

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