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Before you start driving in France

Driving in France - several tips:

Your driving license

You have to transfer to French driving license in a year, if you are not a european citizen. Keep in mind, that in this case you need a confirmation document, that your license is active and not suspended or cancelled. You will be asked for this document in a prefecture, when you will bring you license for application.

Europeans are not obligated to change their driving license to a French one since July 1st 1996, though if you break the highway code in France, according to its point system, several points has to be taken from your license and this makes you obliged to change your foreign license at a prefecture.

Car insurance and registration

If you arrived in France by your own car, you have a month to get French car registration ‘certificat d’immatriculation’, or 6 months, if you have a resident status. For the registration you are going to need a certificate of conformity of you vehicle to French standarts and pay rather high tax for car import and pollution tax. More about the procedure look on ANTS website .

If you are stopped by policemen, most likely they will ask for your "Carte grise" - meaning your documents proofing car ownership and "Green card" - a standart international or european vehicle insurance document.

What else is allowed and forbidden

Be sure to take it with you: 

  • NF(Norme Française) certificated breathalyzer kit. Wether it is obligatory or not to carry one of these in your car - law changes rather often. Always keep it, just in case, even if it is not mandatory at the moment.
  • High viz waistcoats. Have to be kept in cabin, so in case of an accident on a highway you could take them on before leaving the car.
  • Hazard warning triangle. A red reflective sign, that has to be placed behind a car in case of stop on a highway. You have to place it far enough from the car, and if you stopped right after the road turn - bring it before the turn.

It is good to bring:

  • Spare set of car keys. Few things can be worse than losing your only one set of keys in the midst of a foreign country, comments are superfluous.
  • Headlamp beam deflectors
  • Headlamp beams of cars from countries with left-hand traffic have left incline, which complicates driving at night in France. Installing beam deflectors can solve this problem.
  • Spare set of light bulbs. The likelihood that you will be stopped and asked for spare bulbs is very small, many French people do not carry them themselves, but still, it's a rule.

Forbidden:

  • Radar detectors. Fine is up to 1,500 euros. Systems, showing the driver in advance road surveillance cameras also are strictly prohibited.
  • Driving without a fastened seat belt. Both front and rear passengers have to be fastened, if the car construction allows that.
  • Placing children on the front seat. Children under 10 years must be seated in the back seat and if their weight is less than 15kg - in a child seat. If they weight more - they wear a seat belt and sit on a special booster.

Remember: 

  • Before entering into a foreign country, carefully check your car and read the the traffic rules, even if they are slightly different from yours.
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