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France - Importing a Car

Importing your car to France must be done within twelve months of transfering your residence to France. You can drive with foreign plates up to a maximum of four months. It is advisable to register your car as soon as possible at the 'Prefecture'.

Importing your car from outside the E.U. is not recommended as the procedure is very complicated, the transport  cost are probably extremely expensive and you may have to make structural and mechanical modifications to your vehicle. Check directly with car manufacturers for information on the types of changes you may have to do to meet French regulations. They should be able to give you the details, especially if they manufacture for the French market.

The first step is to contact your local DRIRE office (Direction Régionale de L’Industrie, de la Recherche et de l’Environnement) who will send you a check-list of the documents required to register your car. You will need the following documents:

  • Customs Certificate (Certificat de Douane 846a)
    Take the original registration documents and receipt of sale to your local Centre d’Impots. They will advise you on whether any VAT or Customs Duty (for imports from outside the EU) is payable on the car (there should not be any if you purchased the car second-hand or if you can prove payment of VAT in the country of origin)
  • Manufacturers Certificate of Conformity (Attestation de Conformité)
    You can request this form from a car-dealer, French importer or directly from the manufacturer. Note that this process can become much more challenging for older or classic models of car.
  • Proof of origin of the vehicle or certificate of sale
  • Evidence that VAT has been paid in the country of origin
  • Registration request form (demande de certificat d’immatriculation), available from your local prefecture
  • The original registration documents
  • The test certificate (Rapport de contrôle technique)
    If the vehicle is more than four years old and you want to import the car, you will need to pass the contrôle technique at a vehicle test centre or authorised garage, which checks the car’s condition: identification, brakes, tyres, noise levels, emission levels, lights, steering and chassis. The test is due every two years thereafter.
  • Proof of identity and residence in France

More info at:

Direction Régionale de l'Industrie de la Recherche et de l'Environnement d'Ile de France (D.R.I.R.E) 
To contact the D.R.I.R.E :