The European Driving Licence

Find out how long your EU-issued licence is valid in France...

On 19 January 2013, a single model of driving licences was implemented throughout the EU, with harmonised categories. Licences issued before this date remain valid until they expire, but must be replaced by 2033.

Driving Licence Issued by an EU or EEA Member State

A driver with an EU-member state driver's licence who takes up residence in France is not required to exchange the licence for a French one.

Note: French licence regulations apply to the non-French EU licence regarding:

  • The period of validity of the licence
  • Medical checks
  • Minimum driver's age (18 years)
  • Penalties and restrictions, including suspension, withdrawal and cancellation of the licence

EU-licence validity and regulations

Note: An EU-issued licence has the characteristics of a person's EU country of residence.

For example: if a driver resident in France exchanges a licence issued in another EU country for a French one, and then relocates to another EU country, the licence remains valid but the regulations and restrictions (such as the period of validity) of the new country of residence now apply to the licence.

The regulations of the driving licence of a French resident apply to the licence holder when they are holidaying elsewhere. For example, French licence regulations will apply to a British citizen who is resident in France but holidaying in the UK.

Using a valid EU-issued licence in France

An EU-member state driver's licence is valid in France provided the following conditions are respected:

  • The licence is valid in its issuing country
  • The driver has the right minimum age for the licence category
  • The licence mentions whether a person wears prescription spectacles, or is licensed to drive an adapted vehicle
  • The driver has not been suspended or barred from driving in the country that issued the licence
  • The licence was not issued while the person was barred from being issued a licence in France

An exchange becomes compulsory if the licence holder commits a driving offence in France - this is so that points can be deducted.

Replacement of licences

When the EU licence of a French resident expires, the licence holder must renew or replace it by applying to the French authorities. This is also the case if the licence is lost or stolen (a certificate from the issuing authority may be required).

Note: Obtaining a French licence through exchange can simplify matters in case of loss or theft and when obtaining motor insurance. After the French licence has been issued, the original will be kept by the French authorities and returned to the issuing authority.

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