How to Swap your UK Driving License for a French Permis du Conduire

If you’re living in France and have been here more than six months, you’re legally obliged to swap your UK license for a French one. I’d say that’s a little known fact. Most people don’t bother and while I’ve heard that that’s not usually a problem (and not something the gendarmes pulled me up on when I was stopped a few months back) it is a requirement, so could cause problems. So how to go about it?

The process of transferring your non-French license to a French one is actually pretty straight forward. The only complication, as with all things French, is collating all the paperwork involved and filling out the forms.

The two forms you need are Cerfa form No. 1487901 and Cerfa form No. 1494801. Both can be downloaded from Service-Public.fr, as with all these forms.

Along with the two completed forms you also need the following paperwork.

  • A double-sided colour copy of your current driving licence
  • Proof of identity, such as a copy of your passport or other ID card.
  • Proof of residence, such as an Attestation de Domicile, which you can get from your local mairie, or a carte de sejour.

If you are European, Swiss or Monegasque you must also provide proof that you have been resident in France for at least 6 months. Examples of this include a rental contract, employment contract, avis d’impôt, etc.

If you are not a European citizen, you must provide your residence permit or the Ofii sticker affixed to your passport.

You need three photos, two of which you are required to attach to the Cerfa forms.

If you live in the departments of Corse du Sud, Haute-Corse, Réunion, Guyane, Martinique, Mayotte, a cheque for the amount of the regional tax payable; otherwise no payment is needed.

In order to receive your license you must include one of the pink pre-stamped 50g prêt à poster lettre suivie envelopes (available from your local La Poste) labelled with your name and address.

That’s it!

So, what about these forms.

Completing the Paperwork

Cerfa 14948

As with so many French forms, there are a lot of boxes and it looks intimidating, but it’s actually fairly straight forward and standard stuff of an official document.

Give your surname (nom) and first name (prenom), address, etc.

Sign it.

Then there are the two extra fields common to all French administrative document:

  • Fait à is for the name of the town you are when signing; and,
  • le is the date.

For example, if you’re in Carccasone on 18th August 2018 you’d write:

  • Fait à Carcassone, le 18/08/2018

The lower part of the form is only necessary if a legal guardian or representative is completing the form on your behalf. In which case the information required is almost identical to that required in the first part of the form but with the other person’s details.

Attach your photograph to the space provided, and it’s ready.

Next, Cerfa 14879*01.

Cerfa 14879

This it the one where you need to provide details from your current non-French license.

First select from one of the following:

  • Échange d’un permis délivré par un État appartenant à l’UE ou l’EEE
         Select this if you are a resident of an EU country.
  • Échange d’un permis délivré par une collectivité d’Outre-mer ou par la Nouvelle-Calédonie
         Select this if you are a resident of French overseas territory or New Caledonia
  • Échange d’un permis délivré par un État n’appartenant ni à l’UE, ni à l’EEE, ni à une collectivité d’Outre-mer ni à la Nouvelle-Calédonie
    Select this option if you are none of the above.

Nationalié(s) au moment de lóbtention du permis is your nationality at the time your current license was issued. For me that means English (anglaise).

Nationalité(s) atuelle(s) is your current nationality. That’s English (anglaise) again for me as this hasn’t changed since my license was issued.

État de délivrance du titre à échanger means the country that issued your license.

Date dóbtention ou de deliverance means the date your current license expires.

No du permis de conduire is your current driving license’s number. On the UK license this is a long number starting with alphanumeric characters taken from your surname. It can be found on your driving license. On the UK card license it’s the field numbered 5.

The rest of the form involves completing the vehicle categories. When I first looked at this and compared it to my paper license my heart sank because there was no correlation. Then I flipped the card license over and, hey presto! There is a very similar looking table with matching categories. Copy them over one by one. The first columns are for the start dates and the second column for the end dates, with jour, mois, and année the day (e.g., 01), month (e.g., 02) and year.

Examples of UK driving license cards are on the Government website.

Card_01_960x640_01
A Sample Photocard License showing the Categories (From the Gov.uk Website)

When you’ve got all this information together, affix your photograph in the appropriate places and then send off the forms along with your supporting documents and, if needed, payment.

Then you wait. How long you wait will depend on many factors. Word on various Expat forums suggesting anything between 8 weeks and 8 months!

We sent our forms off in August and are waiting to hear back. A feature of French life is that things move slowly, especially when paperwork and the postal service are involved, so watch this space!


Main photo by Christa Dodoo on Unsplash

 

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La Fête de la Lumière

This is annual event put on by the MJC in Puivert – a celebration of the Winter solstice and the return of the light. This year it took place on the 19th December – a while ago now, which is why it’s beyond time to publish this post. I love that the French (at least, locally) celebrate these pagan festivals. It says much of their connection with nature, which there is so much of compared the UK, and may also be something to do with the fact that they are (apparently) known as a nation of farmers – vs. Brits, which are said to be (by the French) a nation of shopkeepers!

The event itself is usually preceded by two or three afternoons of lantern making. Despite our best intentions these sesssions, just like last year, so once again we ended up hastily DIY-ing some lanterns at home on the weekend before the festival. Wanting to improve on our efforts of the previous year we tried doing it properly, which meant sticks and tape, PVA glue and tissue paper, except we used crepe paper, which really didn’t work as well. That aside, we ended up with passable lanterns and also had last year’s at hand as backup.

On the night of the fête, the event starts in the halle opposite the post office where everyone gathers to light their lanterns. Usually there is some sort of introduction with traditional songs, music, and then a procession from the village to the lakes. This is the highlight for me, but this year we missed it, unfortunately – so no photos other than those of us making our solitary walk along the same route a short while later. There some nice photographs on the MJC’s website which are worth a look.

After the short walk everyone gathers at the lake, where there is a buvette selling refreshments (vin chaud, chocolat chaud, and cakes) and a fire pit. Usually the organisers hand out Chinese lanterns that are lit altogether and sent off into the sky — a beautiful sight, if not a little concerning on the environmental front, but no forest fires were started, as far as I know.

This year, after the procession and the lantern-lighting – there was a spectacle centred around the lake, with an illuminated unicorn boat approaching the beach, with the dame blanche waving a torch bearer as he waded through the water to the short, delivering the light for the coming year (I presume that was the symbolism of it.) The dame blanche is a European and American legend (more about this on Wikipedia) as well as local one, as it is said that she haunts the ruined castle in Puivert, as she also does many other ruins across Europe. Despite being dead, she’s a busy woman!

Alongside the spectacle (which was hard to follow because DD kept trying to run off with her friends – a nightmare to keep up with in the dark!) there was music, a large open fire pit, and – later – some fire dancing and drumming. Both times we’ve been we missed the later goings on as it ends up being too late for the little ones, and often too cold too. We were lucky this year that it was a relatively mild night but still by 7pm they were ready to go home. So home we went.

Next year we will have to make sure we make it in time to the procession and the Chinese lantern lighting, since I think (with children in tow) that’s the nicest part of the event. We just need to be more organised – and also to say no to waiting for friends. (James’s idea. I’m over it.) One day we’ll be able to go with children capable of not getting lost, falling into the cold water, or being abducted by strangers, and then I hope to enjoy the evening a little more. For any parents of older children (or generally of a more relaxed disposition) or sans enfants, it’s a lovely evening, I’m sure!

As an aside, I’m always struck by the magnificent flyers for these local events, and this one is no exception. If you like them too, head over to www.angela-design.fr to see more of her work.