Guide to Driving in France
- Driving Offences and Penalties
- Importing and Registering a Vehicle
- Vehicle Registration Process/Transfer of Ownership
- Vehicle Registration Taxes
- MOT Vehicle Tests
- Obtaining a French Driving Licence
- Use of Vehicle Accident Forms in France
- Crit'Air Emissions Sticker
- Grants for Electric Cars
- Scrapping a Vehicle
3. Vehicle Registration Process France/Transfer of Vehicle Ownership
3.1. Vehicle Registration Certificate
On the sale or transfer of ownership of a second-hand vehicle in France it is necessary to obtain a new registration certificate, called a carte grise, or more officially a certificate d’immatriculation.
The document confirms:
• that the vehicle, at the time of registration, was checked for compliance with French and EU laws governing the use of vehicles on the public highway;
• that it has been officially registered with the appropriate authorities and that a licence number has been allocated via a registration process called 'immatriculation';
• the currently registered keeper of the vehicle.
• the technical characteristics of the vehicle.
In addition to re-registration on the sale of a vehicle, you are also required to obtain a new carte grise when you change address, or on marriage, death, or divorce to have it in your correct name, joint or single name.
You are also required to obtain a new carte grise in the event of it being lost, stolen or defaced, when you are required to also immediately inform the police/gendarmes.
We have also published an article in our Newsletter which describes the contents of the carte grise, which you can read at The Carte Grise Explained.
In order to accomplish the formalities for the sale and purchase the documentation required is as follows:
i. Transfer Certificate - This form is the transfer document, confirming that the former owner transfers the vehicle to the new owner.
In the past it has it has been know as the Déclaration de cession d'un véhicule but it is now more recently called the Certificat de cession d'un véhicule d'occasion
It needs to be completed by the former owner, signed by them and the buyer. If there is more than one owner of the vehicle then all parties must sign the certificate.
Three copies of the form need to be completed: one is kept by the seller, the second given to the buyer, and the third copy is submitted to the registration authority by the buyer within 15 days of the sale. The process can only now done on-line (see below), although the paper documentation must be completed.
Other than personal details, all of the information to be completed is contained on the vehicle registration certificate, the carte grise.
It is merely important that you ensure the information is correctly transferred and that there are no corrections made on the form, which might complicate processing of the transfer.
ii. Confirmation of No Lien - The seller is also required to provide the buyer with a certificat de situation administrative (previously called a certificat de non-gage) dated less than 15 days, confirming they have unencumbered ownership of the vehicle and that they can freely dispose of it.
The certificate can be obtained by the buyer or on-line and free of charge from the Ministère de l'Intérieur.
iii. Registration Document - At the conclusion of the sale the certificat d'immatriculation should be handed to the new owner, annotated 'vendu le (date)' and signed by the seller.
If the car was registered since 2004 then the new certificat d'immatriculation in operation since this date have on it a detachable portion on which the name of the new owner can be entered, and signed by the seller, which the new owner can use pending the formalities of new registration.
iv. MOT Certificate - If the vehicle is more than 4 years old, the new owner must also be provided with a current MOT certificate (Contrôle Technique - CT), which must have a validity of at least eighteen months. A CT is valid for two years, so it must have been undertaken within six months of the sale.
v. Death, Marriage, Divorce, or Change of Address - You will need to provide appropriate evidence, eg death certificate, marriage certificate, passport, documentary confirmation of new address, as necessary. To read more you can also see our Newsletter article Transfer of Vehicle Ownership on Death.
vi. Scrapped Vehicle - In the case of a vehicle being scrapped, the declaration must be accomplished in collaboration with the salvage professional.
vii. Certificate of Conformity - There are additional requirements for the importation of a vehicle into France, primarily concerning the provision of a certificate of conformity, not covered in these notes. You can read more at Importing a Vehicle to France.
3.3. Registration Process
In the past a new owner was obliged to send their registration certificate to their préfecture, within one month and to make application for their own registration certificate.
This was done by completing a Demande de certificat d'immatriculation.
Since 2017 this process can only be undertaken on-line at Agence nationale des titres sécurisés or via France Connect, although as we indicate below, it is also undertaken by accredited professional providers.
You will need to supply:
- the existing registration certificate,
- proof of identity,
- proof of address.
- payment of the registration taxes.
The charge for the new certificate depends on a number of factors, notably engine size and emission rating.
Each region applies their own charge, although they are broadly similar for each vehicle type, ranging from around €75 for the smallest, greenest cars to potentially several thousand euros for the largest and most polluting vehicles.
You can read about the taxes in our section on Vehicle Registration Taxes. Most of these taxes are not payable on a simple change of name or change of address.
The registration number of the vehicle will remain the same, except for pre-2009 vehicles that may be running on a now abandoned numbering system.
The new government on-line registration system has been a colossal failure, due to difficulties in navigation and technical problems.
With many vehicle owners unable to register their vehicle using the system, they have resorted to using private companies who have access to a professional registration system.
The companies also carry out calculating the taxes payable, using on-line calculators, but in tests we carried out the results were not always consistent, with figures sometimes higher than the official level of taxes due using the government calculator.
There is also a very particular problem for those who have recently relocated to France, in that the ANTs system is only available if you have a 'secured identity' in France. That is to say, for instance, that you have made an income tax declaration or you have a social security number.
As a result of our experiences and the problems readers are facing we approached a reputable and leading professional registration company to provide an English language registration service to our readers.
The company have now done hundreds of these registrations and, although some people have been confused and anxious about the process, your feedback suggests the service is a good one.
You can use the service at Demande Carte-Grise.
You can find customer reviews of the company, on a website certified by the French standards agency AFNOR, at Avis Vérifié.
If you wish to use their English language speaking service you need to use this dedicated link, and not make an application through their main portal. The company process around 20,000 applications a month, and only applications made through this link are routed to their English language speaking advisor. If you start the process, but end it before completion, you will need to restart it again via the link.
When you arrive on the page click the 'Select Language' button at the top-left, or use in the French language original. The translation is not 100%, but should be sufficient to complete the process.
Thus, some peculiarities in the translated version are:
- The term 'carte grise' is translated as 'Card Gray'.
- 'Mark' is the brand name of the vehicle, obtained from the drop-down box.
- 'Release' is the date of first registration expressed as eg, 09/05/2010
- 'Kind' refers to private car, utility vehicle, scooter etc
- Be careful with 'fiscal power', which is not the horsepower of the vehicle, but the 'puissance fiscal' as stated on your registration document, line P6.
- There is no need to enter the country code of your telephone number.
You will need to produce the documents necessary for registration, as set out above; the company are not able to obtain these documents for you.
Once all the information has been entered a screen display will show you a complete breakdown of the taxes and the fee payable.
If you have a query or a problem with the process there is a telephone number you can ring during working hours - 0892882300 - but it is at a premium rate so be careful how you use it as the costs can quickly mount up. In order to get transferred to an English language speaking advisor state you are ringing as a French-Property.com reader. An elementary understanding of French is required to get transferred.
Once the application is submitted you will obtain an e-mail confirmation from their English speaking advisor, which will also contain on it their free direct line telephone number. Any further queries you have, or errors that may have been made with the application, can be dealt with at this stage.
The service is only available to those who have an address in France, to take receipt of delivery of the registration document.
Do continue to let us have your feedback. You can contact us at email@example.com.
3.4 Vehicle History Checks
There is a French government website where you can do a vehicle history check, which we wrote about in an article in our Newsletter.
You can find the article at Second-Hand Vehicle History Check.
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