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
4. Vehicle Registration Taxes in France
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 sur la masse en ordre de marche
- 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 the taxes sur les véhicules polluants and the taxe sur la masse en ordre de marche.
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.
- 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 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. Many 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.
The figures below are for 2023. The may be slight variations by department.
|Region||Amount per Cheval Fiscal||Green Exemption|
|Centre-Val de Loire||€49.80||50%|
|Pays de la Loire||€51||0%|
4.3. Taxes sur les véhicules polluants
A pollution tax is payable on the purchase of a new vehicle registered where the CO₂ emissions or power output exceeds a minimum threshold. Since 1st Jan 2021 the tax has not been payable on the registration of a second-hand car.
The écotaxe additionnelle (or malus) payable on the purchase of a new vehicle depends on the level of CO₂ emissions. It does not apply to utility vehicles.
Since 1st March 2020, for new registrations since this date, with a new formula based on the 'Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedures' (WLTP). This considers both consumption and emissions and is far more complicated in design.
The indications are that WLTP will cause some delays and errors in the registration of new vehicles, due to the difficulties of configuring the software used by the government for the on-line registration system - 'SIV' (Système d'Immatriculation des Véhicules).
A selection of the applicable rates from 1st Jan 2023 are as follows:
|Under 123 CO₂||€0|
|220 CO₂||€ 42,231|
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. Vehicles specially equipped for disabled persons are exempt as are persons who are registered disabled, or who have a child who is registered disabled.
For imported vehicles the rate is also reduced by 10% for each year since first registration of the vehicle.
The amount of the penalty is capped at 50% of the price for a vehicle whose first registration takes place from 2022.
For EU type-approved vehicles that do not fall under the WLTP registration scheme the triggering threshold is 110 g CO2/km, which corresponds to a tax of €50, the maximum amount is €20,000 euros when CO2 emissions exceed 184 g CO2/km.
For vehicles that are not EU type-approved and do not fall under the WLTP registration scheme the triggering threshold is 4 HP, which corresponds to a tax of €500, the maximum amount is 50,000 euros when the administrative power exceeds 28 HP.
4.4. Taxe sur la masse en ordre de marche
Since 1st Jan 2022 there has been an additional tax, based on the weight of the vehicle. It is called the Taxe sur la masse en ordre de marche or the shorthand version malus de poids.
The tax is €10/kg on that fraction of a vehicle exceeding 1800k. eg 1900 = €1,000.
There is a simulator at Calculer le montant du malus au poids.
It does not apply to vehicles run on electric or hydrogen, or a combination of both. Disabled vehicles area also exempt.
The tax is payable on first registration in France.
4.5. 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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