Guide to Driving in France


  1. Driving Offences and Penalties
  2. Importing and Registering a Vehicle
  3. Vehicle Registration Process & Transfer of Ownership
  4. Vehicle Registration Taxes
  5. MOT Vehicle Tests
  6. Obtaining a French Driving Licence
  7. Use of Vehicle Accident Forms in France
  8. Crit'Air Emissions Sticker

4. Vehicle Registration Taxes in France


4.1. Introduction

If you purchase a new or second-hand car (or other vehicle) in France you will be obliged to register it.

The same applies for the importation of a vehicle from within or outside of Europe, with higher registration charges that apply for the latter.

In the case of a new vehicle, the registration process is normally undertaken by the dealer, when the taxes are added to the purchase price of the vehicle.

The vehicle registration document is called the certifcat d’immatriculation, formerly the carte grise, a term which is still used.

Several taxes and charges are payable, although some only apply to particular types of vehicles. In addition, only nominal taxes are payable on a change of name or address.

The taxes and charges comprise:

  • Taxe régionale;
  • Taxes sur les véhicules polluants;
  • Taxe de formation professionnelle ;
  • Taxe de gestion ;
  • Redevance d’acheminement.

The taxe de formation professionnelle only applies to commercial transport vehicles, and the taxe de gestion and redevance d’acheminement are of such trifling amounts there is no need to consider them here.

We consider below the taxe régionale and the taxes sur les véhicules polluants.

4.2. Taxe Régionale

This is a tax fixed by the regional council, but which does not vary significantly across the country.

The level of the tax depends on the base figure determined by the council, multiplied by the 'fiscal' engine capacity of the vehicle, called the 'puissance fiscal' (PF).

The PF of the vehicle is then given a fiscal rating, expressed as either the plural 'chevaux fiscaux' or the singular 'cheval fiscal', shortened to 'CV'.

The information on the fiscal rating is contained in column P.6 on the French registration card. If your log book does not contain this information, you would be best advised to contact your insurer or do a search engine check on the vehicle.

The fiscal rating of the vehicle is derived from the fiscal engine capacity of the vehicle, called the 'puissance fiscal' (PF), when it is then expressed as the administrative chevaux fiscaux/cheval fiscal. It is calculated using the following formula:

PF = (CO₂/45) + (P/40)^1.6.

Where:

  • PF = Puissance Fiscale
  • CO₂ = Carbon Emission (gr/km)
  • P = Horsepower (1 hp = 0,736 kW)

The calculation method takes into account the CO₂ emission expressed in g/km, and the maximum engine power (P), which is expressed in kilowatts (kW).

If you do not have the kilowatt figure, do a check on-line or convert the horsepower (HP) to kilowatts using the equivalence rule 1HP = 0.736 kW. Thus, if the engine power of your vehicle is 115 HP, the kilowatts is 115 x 0.736 = 84.65 kW (rounded to 85kW).

The French energy agency ADEME also offers an on-line simulator where you can establish the CO₂ emission level of your vehicle.

As an example of calculating the fiscal rating, assuming your car is 75HP, giving a kilowatt rating of 54kW, and the CO₂ ​emission is 127 g/km, the puissance fiscal of the vehicle is: 127/45 + (54/40) 1,6 = 4 CV (chevaux fiscaux).

To do the calculation you can merely paste the formula into Google (or on-screen calculator in Windows) with the values inserted, as follows: (CO₂/45) + (P/40)**1.6

It is also generally possible to find the fiscal rating by a simple Google search of the relevant terms using vehicle type, although be careful of the results you find.

The following table shows the base figures used by each region for 2020. It excludes commercial vehicles.

For vehicles over 10 years old there is a reduction of 50% in the tax.

Since 1st January 2020 vehicles powered exclusively by electricity or hydrogen, or a combination of both, are exempt from this tax. The councils also give either a 100% or 50% exemption for vehicles running on clean energy, eg E85, GPL, hybrides.

The tax is payable on both new and second-hand sales.

So, for example a vehicle under 10 years with chevaux fiscaux of 7, being registered in Occitanie, the tax would be €44 x 7CV = €308.

Region Amount per Cheval Fiscal Green Exemption
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes €43 100%
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté €51 100%
Brittany €51 50%
Centre-Val de Loire €49.80 50%
Grand-Est €42 100%
Hauts-de-France €33-€35,40 100%
Île-de-France €46.15 100%
Nouvelle-Aquitaine €41 100%
Normandy €35 100%
Occitanie €44 100%
Pays de la Loire €48 100%
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur €51 100%

4.3. Taxes sur les véhicules polluants

A pollution tax is payable on the purchase of a new or second-hand vehicle registered since 2004 where the CO₂ emissions or power output exceeds a minimum threshold.

i. New Vehicle

The écotaxe additionnelle (or malus) payable on the purchase of a new vehicle originating from within Europe depends on the level of CO₂ emissions.

The rates are on a scale from 110 CO₂/km to 200+ CO₂/km.

The following table shows a selection of the amounts payable (from January 2020). A different sum is payable for each unit of CO₂ output, so the table is a summary of the amount payable at points along the scale.

CO₂ Amount
Under 110 CO₂ €0
120 CO₂ €260
130 CO₂ €818
140 CO₂ €1,901
150 CO₂ €3,784
160 CO₂ €6,724
172 CO₂ €12,012
185+ CO₂ €20,000

The rate is reduced by 40% for vehicles using E85 ethanol fuel blend, provided vehicle emissions are no greater than 250 CO₂. Families with at least three children are also granted a discount.

The rates are due to change again in no later than July 2020 (perhaps March 2020) with a new formula based on the 'Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedures' (WLTP). This considers both consumption and emissions. The proposed rates are as follows:

CO₂ Amount
Under 138 CO₂ €0
145 CO₂ €210
160 CO₂ €983
170 CO₂ €2,205
180 CO₂ €4,279
190 CO₂ €7,462
200 CO₂ €12,012
213+ CO₂ €20,000

You should not interpret from the change in March 2020 that the rates are being reduced, as the test itself will be tougher.

ii. Second Hand Vehicles

For second-hand vehicles registered since 2004, and with an existing French registration, the tax is based on the administrative fiscal horsepower (chevaux-fiscaux) of the vehicle, as follows:

CV Amount
Under 10 €0
Between 10 and 11 €100
Between 12 and 14 €300
Greater than 14 €1,000

The level of the tax is reduced by one-tenth per year from the first year of registration.

Higher taxes apply on the importation of a second-hand vehicle, which are based on the level of CO₂ and the fiscal horsepower. The calculation is complex, and when we are ourselves clearer and more confident of the method used we will publish information about it. In the meantime there is an official simulator you can use at Simulateur. It is in French and it is not always fully up to date.

In addition to the above pollution taxes, a Taxe annuelle sur la détention d'un véhicule particulier les plus polluants is payable each subsequent year on high-polluting vehicles.

For those vehicles registered since 2012 the threshold that applies is 190g/CO₂/km and 245/250 CO₂/km for older vehicles registered prior to this date, but does not apply to vehicles registered before 2009. The tax is €160 per year.

Finally, for high-powered vehicles 36CV or more from 1st Jan 2018 there is a supplementary tax, called Taxe sur les véhicules très puissants of €500 per cheval fiscal. The tax is only payable on the CV from 36CV upwards. It is to be abolished in 2021 due to the low tax yield.

The French energy agency ADEME offers an on-line simulator where you can establish the emission level of your vehicle.

4.4. Registration Process

The registration process can now only be carried out on-line, although the process is not self-evident, even for French nationals, and the system has been plagued by a major technical problems.

As a result of our own experiences and the problems readers are facing registering a second-hand vehicle we have held discussions with a leading professional registration company to provide a registration service to our readers.

The service has English speaking support and uses the official calculator for the taxes, something that we found did not always occur in the tests we did with some other registration companies. The company has also agreed a set of service standards for response and processing.

If you may be interested in using the service you can turn to our pages on Importing and Registering a Vehicle for foreign registered vehicles, and to the page Vehicle Registration Process for existing France registered vehicles, where the process is set out.




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