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. French Vehicle Registration Taxes

4.1. Introduction

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

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

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

In the case of a new vehicle, the registration process and payment of the charge is normally undertaken by the dealer, when it is added to the purchase price of the vehicle.

Several taxes and charges are payable, although some only apply to particular types of vehicles.

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. So below we will examine 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. There is a mathematical formula to obtain it, which you can find in our section Importing and Registering a Vehicle.

For vehicles over 10 years old there is a reduction of 50% in the tax. Most regions offer a discount of 100% for 'green' vehicles. It is payable on both new and second-hand sales.

The following table shows the base figures used by each region for 2018. It excludes commercial vehicles.

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 0%
Grand-Est €39-€43 100%
Hauts-de-France €33-€40 50%/100%
Île-de-France €46 100%
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 117 CO₂/km to 191+ CO₂/km.

The following table shows a selection of the amounts payable (2019).

CO₂ Amount
Under 117 CO₂ €0
129 CO₂ €50
130 CO₂ €140
150 CO₂ €1,613
175 CO₂ €6,053
185+ CO₂ €10,000

The rate is reduced by 40% for vehicles using E85 ethanol fuel blend. Families with at least three children are also granted a discount.

ii. Second Hand Vehicles

For second-hand vehicles registered since 2004 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.

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; it is higher 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 of €500 per cheval fiscal. The tax is only payable on the CV from 36CV upwards.

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

4.4. Registration Process

Since Nov 2017 registration 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 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 Vehicle Registration Process for existing France registered vehicles, where it is set out.

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