With major problems arising in the government on-line vehicle registration system owners are turning to private companies to register their car, but care is needed.
Since last November the vehicle ‘carte grise’ registration service that used to be in the offices of each prefecture in France has been re-routed on-line.
The government have created a dedicated site for the purpose at Agence Nationale des Titres Sécurisés (ANTS).
However, the site has suffered a series of technical failures, with many tens of thousands of vehicle owners either unable to access the system or finding that their application cannot be processed.
Error messages such as "Erreurs "503 Service Temporarily Unavailable"/"Erreur "Une erreur technique est survenue lors de votre démarche. Veuillez réessayer ultérieurement" are not unusual.
In other cases the system has demanded documentation be provided before the application can be processed, despite it having already been sent.
Even where it appears to have worked, there often remain substantial delays in the issue of the new registration certificate, the certifcat d’immatriculation.
Using the system is no easy matter, even for the French, and we have received numerous mails from readers who have been completely baffled and frustrated by it.
ANTs have put in place a telephone helpline, but that too can be a steeplechase to use, with numerous automatic messages to which you need to respond before you can finally reach an advisor, and substantial delays in obtaining a response.
Not surprisingly, therefore, many vehicle owners have resorted to using one of several on-line private companies accredited by the government to process their application. These companies have access to a separate but linked registration system that is only available to professionals. Most offer a very good service, for a price which seems to average around €30, although to the basic price is sometimes added other minor charges.
One of the tasks these companies need to undertake is to calculate the taxes that will be payable on registration of the vehicle with a change of ownership. There are several taxes payable, the main one of which is the taxe régionale.
This is done by using several key elements of information contained on the existing registration document, which is then entered into an automatic calculator.
Some of the companies allow you to do the calculation yourself, and to then make payment for the registration document. Like the government website, their own processes are completely on-line and so cannot be reached by telephone.
However, in tests we carried out with these calculators the results were not always consistent. In 3 out of the 8 calculators we used the taxes payable were assessed to be higher than the figure provided by the official simulator, which we used to compare results.
Thus, in one case the official taxes payable for registration were €314. However, when the same information was entered into the private on-line calculators we obtained figures ranging from €314 to €730! In another case the official calculation was €204, although the estimate given by one company was €412.
In one case we were not given the registration cost unless we agreed to withdraw our right of retraction and proceed to registration. Neither was it always clear whether the figures provided included the administration charge. In some cases the charge seemed to be a percentage of the taxes payable.
The differences occurred more frequently on those vehicles over 10 years old; in such cases there is a 50% reduction in the level of the taxes, and it may well be that some calculators did not properly make an allowance for the age of the vehicle and the reduction entitlement.
As a result of the our experiences and the problems readers are facing we have been holding discussions with a leading professional registration company to provide a registration service to Anglophones, with English speaking support, and with the official calculator used for the taxes. The admin charge by the company would be €30 for an existing France registered vehicle. The company can also undertake the registration of foreign registered vehicles. If you may be interested in using the service you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.