It appears that most people tend to dread or worry about this process. I’m not sure why, as out of all of them, it’s low down on the brain drain pecking order. Less thought goes into this than, say, setting up a Micro Entrepreneur business (check), much less than if you start thinking about inheritance, dividing up assets and all that other fun adult stuff. And far less than filling out your first tax return form – check (with a “that will do if its wrong am sure they’ll tell me” type of approach). Actually make that forms – there’s a main one and lots of different ones to add a sense of danger and excitement to the occasion. Or you could employ an accountant but where’s the fun in that?!
So yes, if you’ve been putting this off or think oh gawd this is a right hassle – man up! It’s fine. It’s just a process and there are no other options i.e there are different ways in which you can run a business, there are different ways in which to be more tax efficient. Registering your car has no real brain drain. It is what it is. You have to collect the information required = job done.
Before I tell you what is required I should say that our plates weren’t changed for nearly a year. Did I lose any sleep over this. Nope. Your circumstances will dictate how quickly this is done. Our circumstances meant that we weren’t sure if, when we moved, this would be forever. We took the view that if the kids hated everything about living in France and everyone was miserable than we would look to return to the UK. Now, we didn’t let our youngest two know this. If it felt like there was always an option to move back, then the kids wouldn’t be fully committed to their life here. It is up to you how you manage your children but for us, we felt this was the best policy. So as far as they were concerned this was it.
As far as we were concerned for the first six months – one foot was firmly on UK soil and the other tentatively on French soil. This is natural and like I’ve said before on previous posts you cannot do everything in one go. Everything takes time and priority will generally be your living accommodation and making sure everyone is mentally okay! Next is healthcare and so on.
And with regard to driving around on British plates. Firstly make sure your car has a full year’s MOT and check your insurance cover in Europe. Most do for a period of 3 months and you can pay extra per month if you think you will be there for more than 3 months. In any event, you are able to live in both countries for 6 months without being resident. Furthermore, you can also insure your British car with a French insurance company should you so wish. In addition, if you are returning to the UK a lot – which many do in Normandy, you may not have to pay extra top up as you are never in France for 3 months at a time in any event. So you see it’s not as straight forward as the Brit Naziplates Police, on French forums, would have you believe – “they’re all illegal”. They assume, wrongly, that everyone driving around on Brit plates for longer than 3 months are not fully insured.
When Mr Normandy’s truck was vandalised we were saying to the Gendarmes that it was due to go back for its MOT as we weren’t ready to get rid of it – that is to sell it and get a French car. At no point did they handcuff us and march us down to the station for having a vehicle in France on UK plates.
Our family car was insured, we had a valid MOT and without assuming all French drivers are bad – there’s not a lot they can teach me with regard to driving safely. I haven’t seen a British car, upside down on its roof, kamikazed into a farmer’s field or in a ditch. Let’s just say I’ve seen my fair share of French cars in this predicament.
So, what do you need? The bits of paper you will need to get your Carte Grise (this is the French equivalent to the V5 vehicle ownership) are as follows:-
- V5 document – this is your UK car registration document
- UK MOT document (this has to be less than 6 months old) or French *CT (controle technique aka MOT) which is less than 6 months old.
- Copy of your Passport
- Proof of address like a utility bill that is less than 3 months old
- Certificate of Conformity – this is issued by the car manufacturer. I paid 140 euros for my Volvo in French and it took about 9 days. The price will vary depending on the make of your car. If you have a very old car make sure you can actually get this at all. The process is much more complicated if you have a car that was imported to Britain. It may not be compliant at all with EU regulations. Please exercise caution if you come across websites that can offer you this for half the price.
- Quitas Fiscal – This is basically a piece of paper you need to get from your local tax office (so the one that sends the tax fonciere bill). It is free and only takes about 10 minutes – well it did for us. This is to show you have paid for your vehicle. The documents they require for this will be..
- V5 aka car registration document
- Mileage of vehicle
- Purchase invoice of vehicle
- Proof of address
Mr Normandy, after having his truck parts stolen, bought another vehicle in the UK (far cheaper) the V5 was not in his name. We thought this might cause a problem but it didn’t as he took all the sales invoices etc.
That’s all the documents you need. Now, I paid someone to give me this information, to order my certificate of conformity from the French Volvo site directly and to then apply via the government website. I still had to collate this information but it was money well spent (60 euros) as quite frankly I choose my battles with regard to paperwork. You will find local garages that will also offer this service for a small fee.
However, I now know how to do it and we have applied ourselves for our second vehicle. You will need to go onto (people refer to it as ANTS) the website Agence Nationale Des Titres Sécurisés (all links will be below). This is the government’s website whereby you can do all manner of grown up stuff like change your address, order a passport (for nationals) and the golden ticket for us ex-pats/immigrants order a Carte Grise. Great.
Hold on there tiger! You have to be officially acknowledged to be able to create an account and access this website. Oh? Yarp. Sorry, I know you thought you were home and dry. So to get a log in and password you will need to be verified as a person living in France.
The simplest way of doing this (you can also do it if you have a social security number/account) is to request that the postman/woman verifies you. This is what my husband did. You merely arrange a date via the website. The postwoman came to our house (she’s delivering letters anyhow!) with her little machine – she checks your passport and confirms you reside in France. You’ll then get a log in to access the government website.
Can you see why people pay for this to be done? The person who fills in your form on your behalf will naturally already be in the system to do this for you. Plus if you really have no French negotiating your way around the site will take time. However, don’t be put off by it – you’ll soon get used to using French sites in much the same way you did in the uk. Plus you can always have google translate open in another tab. However, time is money so yes choose your battles.
Now the lady I paid did all this – she would have followed the steps to obtain a Carte Grise, uploaded all the documents she’d requested, I also signed the Form Cerfa 13750 “demande de certifcat d’immatriculation d’un véhicule” and about two weeks later my Carte Grise was ready. I paid roughly 280 euros for this and then arranged my insurance. You can take your Carte Grise to any garage to make up your number plates but we ordered online – they arrived within 48 hours.
*control technique – these are dotted about all over France ideally make sure your car has an MOT less than 6 months old. If you don’t have this google your local centre – I was able to make an appointment online. It normally takes 45 minutes and cost 75 euros. At the time, the car went in prior to the numerous changes – they have now made it stricter probably more in line with the UK. Anyhow, my car failed! The hand brake needed adjusting and our headlights needed to be changed. With a CT at the time you have 3 months to sort it out (although I believe this may have changed).
We ordered lights from ebay uk as like most things it was cheaper. Mr Normandy fitted them – he is becoming quite the mechanic and youtube is a great source of reference for this. I also had to book it into the garage. Prior to this I had a turbo problem so the whole process, for me, was probably delayed by over a month. You make a follow-up appointment – this time for 15 minutes and the car passed. There was a recommendation for the front brakes but not critical however we have just had to have those replaced and I now actually want to set light to my car with or without French plates!
I hope you have found this useful and you didn’t glaze over half way through. Here are some links below that you may find useful:-
Please contact your car manufacturer direct for details on where to obtain your Certificate of Conformity and beware of rouge websites that claim they can do this for half the price.
Edit – if you can’t get a Certificate of Conformity (like we couldn’t for a 12 year old Nissan pick up truck – exported from Japan to the UK) you can write to the company and ask them to provide you with the piece of paper that shows you can’t get a Certificate of Conformity! They will provide you with all the details you need for the vehicle – you then sent this off to ants online – so basically its a piece of paper that says you can’t get the piece of paper. There is always a way!