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Driving in France

Published on December 20, 2013
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If you are on a short visit or short business trip (less than 90 days)

You may drive with a valid U.S. driver’s license if it is accompanied by a notarized translation in French. It is strongly recommended that you carry an International Driving Permit. You must be 18 years of age or older to drive in France. (More information may be found here).

If you are a resident of France (holder of a Carte de séjour or a Carte de résidence, more than 90 days)

You may drive in France with a valid U.S. driver’s license accompanied by a notarized French translation for a period of one year starting on the date of validity of the first carte de séjour, excepting students whose driver’s license expires at the end of his or her studies.

Driver’s licenses from some states are eligible to exchange for a French driver’s license. You must apply for the permit at least three months before the expiration of the one-year period.

Driver’s licenses from some states are eligible to exchange for a French driver’s license. You must apply for the permit at least three months before the expiration of the one-year period.

Driver’s licenses from the following states are eligible for exchange: Arkansas (limited to Class B), Colorado (limited to Class B), Connecticut (limited to Classes A and B), Delaware (limited to Class B), Florida (limited to Classes A and B), Illinois, Iowa (limited to Class B), Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio (limited to Class B), Oklahoma, Pennsylvania (limited to Classes A and B), South Carolina, Texas (limited to Class B), Virginia (limited to Class B), West Virginia.

Class A : any motorcycle or motor tricycle.
Class B : Motor vehicles with a maximum authorised mass not exceeding 3500 kg and designed and constructed for the carriage of no more than eight passengers in addition to the driver.

The above states offer a reciprocal privilege of exchange for persons holding a French driver’s license. (More information may be found here).

update: Kentucky has been removed from the above list on August 2012. A Kentucky driver’s license may no longer be exchanged for a French Permit. Wisconsin has been removed on March 2013.

If you do not have a driver’s license from one of the states mentioned above, you can take the written and driving portions of the French licensing examination after one year of residence in France. Special sessions are organized for those who do not speak French. You may additionally ask to be assisted by a translator, who may be a friend or relative. The driving examination may be taken in an automatic car, but not all driving schools provide this service. There is no minimum lesson-hour requirement.

Requirements

To apply, go to the local Préfecture de Police, if there is not an agreement between your State and France, the staff will direct you to a driving school where you can take the exam. In Paris, the Préfecture de Police is located at 7 Boulevard du Palais, 75004 Paris Tel: 01 53 71 53 71 Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday

You will need to bring:

- An ID
- Your U.S. driver’s license along with a notorized translation in French
- Proof of residence: statement of domicile, electricity bill or rent receipt
- Carte de Séjour with photocopy of both sides.
- Four passport size photographs

International Driver’s License

The American Automobile Association issues International Driver’s Licenses in the United States for US citizens who go to France for a short period of time (less than 90 days). Website: American Automobile Association.

Sending your car or motorcycle to France

Pease visit the Embassy of France Customs Office

For specific information in English regarding insurance, documentation of motor vehicles, sales, transfers of ownership, and driving schools with an English-speaking instructor, please refer to the websiteof the American Embassy in Paris.

Car Rentals

You must be at least 21 years old and have held a full driver’s license for at least a year in order to rent a car. Insurance is mandatory. Many car rental companies have offices in airports, railways stations, and in major city centers.

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