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Do I Have to Re-Register My Car if I Move to France Temporarily?

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 3 Oct 2013 | comments*Discuss
Car France Uk Licence Tax Mot Lights


I am moving to the south of France, near Toulouse in a couple of weeks, to work. I'm not planning on being there for more than a year or maybe two. I am debating whether or not to take my car over and how this would work.

Would I have to re-register it as French, how do I go about insurance? Also do I have to have my car altered and re-registered when I come back to the UK?

(K.T, 27 March 2009)


What an exciting adventure!

The key point in your question is the fact that you are coming back to the UK relatively quickly. The majority of the rules regarding car importation come into effect if you are going to be moving to France permanently, even though there is very little guidance on what ‘permanently’ means if you actually end up staying longer because your plans change, or if you intended to move permanently and ended up moving back.

So, the fact that your current plans are to move back to the UK within two years means that you are better to keep your car as a ‘UK’ car rather than trying to make it ‘French’. For a start, importing your car can be a real nightmare – the talk of French bureaucracy is not overestimated when it comes to petty paperwork - and you really don’t need to do it for a short stay, especially as you will have to do it all again in reverse when you move back.

Your situation is not unusual and so there is plenty of information available to help. What you must not do is bury your head in the sand and just drive around France without sorting out the proper paperwork – you may get away with it, but if you get stopped by a gendarme they are very likely to march you to the nearest cash point.

Here are the details you need to ensure are in order:

  • Keep your UK tax up to date for the duration of your time in France
  • Keep your MOT up to date for the duration of your time in France
  • Make sure you have an EU photo card license
  • Tell your insurance company of your plans – they may be able to cover you for the whole time or just for a set time – or google for ‘expat car insurance France’ for people that can help
  • Adjust your lights for oncoming traffic – stickers are fine if you are still on English plates
  • Buy the EU car accident package (you can buy it on your ferry crossing for about €30) – you must have high visibility jackets for all passengers, a red reflective triangle and a number of other items in the car at all times – you can get stopped for random checks
  • Keep your insurance paperwork in your car at all times – if you get stopped there is no ‘seven days to bring it to the station’ – you have to present it or get an immediate fine (hence being taken to the cash point by the police – it does happen!).

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onetug - 3-Oct-13 @ 8:42 PM
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