French number plates
Until 2009, the numbering system for French number plates dated back to 1950. The computer system which managed number plate registration was technically ancient and had nearly reached saturation point! Although over 150 million vehicles were registered, only around 40 million were actually in use, due to owners failing to declare the scrapping of their vehicles.
Since 1st January 2009, number plates in France have followed a new system (The SIV system – “Système d’Immatriculation des Véhicules”) for new vehicles. This also applies to second-hand vehicles when home moves, and other circumstances require changes to the registration documents (carte grise).
The present plates are made up of two letters, three numbers, and two more letters, eg “AB-123-CD” The characters are black on a white background with an “F” for France under the EU logo, on a blue strip to the left of the plate and a blue strip to the right with the owner’s département number of choice, below the regional logo of the chosen département.
The vehicle keeps the same registration number throughout its life, but you may choose to change or keep the departmental number and logo.
Owners may register their vehicles anywhere in France, regardless of domicile, via authorized garages, dealers or prefectures. This has removed the previous necessity of changing the vehicle registration number when moving to another department.
A provisional “registration certificate” with the new registration number is issued on payment of the relevant tax and valid for a month, allowing the driver to drive immediately. The carte grise is sent by registered post to the owner’s home address within a week.