Importing a UK car into France

Last year, reader, Linsday, posted on the P-O Life forum for help with the importation of a secondhand vehicle.

She, along with many of you, had successfully registered vehicles in the past by following our guidelines but was informed by her tax office that the rules had changed and that now, car owners must be resident and tax declared in France.

Here’s the information that was sent to us by Lindsay:

Since the carte gris system went online, both the tax d’impots and the outsourced ANTS agencies, need to see that you are resident in France and part of the tax system.

That means that, legally, no more second home owners / holiday home owners can do this.

Unless France is your main residence and you are in the income tax or health system you are also unable to buy a French registered car.

Apparently this law has always been in place but in the past the Préfecture never checked, they accepted the utility bill as proof of address without worrying about full time residency.

Now the process is online and systematically checked. You must submit your last year’s French tax declaration to qualify.

You can find out more here (in French): 

However, an email received later in the year (August 2019) from reader, Theo, tells a different story…

“I have checked with ANTS this morning, who confirm that if I have proof of ownership of a French house, I am entitled to purchase, insure and legally drive a French-registered car. I am not required to be domicilié or resident in France for tax purposes etc.”

With a little digging around on the government’s ANTS website, we found this:

Conformément aux dispositions du code de la route (article R322-1), tout propriétaire d’un véhicule qui souhaite le faire circuler sur la voie publique en France, doit adresser une demande d’immatriculation au préfet du département de son choix en justifiant de son identité et de son domicile en France. Vous devez, par conséquent, justifier d’un domicile ou élire domicile chez un tiers.

Dans cette dernière situation, la réalité de la résidence du demandeur au domicile de l’hébergeant doit être avérée par un document officiel (feuille d’imposition, carte de sécurité sociale, titre d’allocations familiales, document du Pôle emploi…).

En dehors de ces cas, l’immatriculation de votre véhicule ne pourra être effectuée.

Which we would translate (not legally binding!) as :

In accordance with the provisions of the French road traffic regulations (article R322-1), any owner of a vehicle who wishes to drive on the public roads in France must submit an application for registration to the council of the department of his/her choice, providing proof of his/her identity and residence in France. You must therefore prove that you have a residence or choose a residence with a third party.

In the latter situation, the reality of the applicant’s residence at the accommodation provider’s home must be confirmed by an official document (tax sheet, social security card, family allowance certificate, Pôle emploi document, etc.).

Otherwise, the registration of your vehicle will not be possible.

Another reader, Peter, (August 2019) sent us his experience:

We are not in the French Health system, and are both retired. Thus, even with an ‘Identité Numérique’ from the Post Office, we can no longer ourselves register any vehicle here (the use of the online system is only possible with ID verification – which they do by comparing your Identité Numérique with the records held by INSEE. So, not in the French Social Security system means no ID verification, and no vehicle registration…).

However, this is not a problem. The usual EDF confirmation of contract is enough for getting professionals to do the registration for you, provided the other documents are OK (tax office release for imports, Certificate of Conformity / FFVE certification and so on). We found ‘Garage Conflent Roussillon’ in Ria (near Prades) very helpful and competent, both with registering a used vehicle bought in France, and in dealing with the imported ones from the UK. Similarly, buying new is no problem. Again, the EDF certificate was more than enough (at LCF in 09000 Foix).

Never have I ever been asked to provide a tax bill, or a Social Security reference (4 registrations since the computerisation of the system, the last one this June)! If someone has the problems you describe, I suggest they try a different Registration Service provider.

Have you tried, succeeded, failed to import a foreign car to France?
Please share your experiences with us at

If you are eligible, here are updated details of registering your foreign (European!) vehicle, correct for August 2019.

Documents required

  • Proof of address (less than 6 months old)
  • Request for a carte grise form (available here)
  • If there has been a change of ownership: invoice, transfer certificate (cerfa n°15776), or other proof of sale (with translation by an sworn translator if in a foreign language)
  • All registration papers from country of origin
  • Quitus fiscal (find out how to apply here)
  • Contrôle technique or European equivalent of the French road worthiness done within previous 6 months

If the foreign registration certificate cannot be provided or does not contain all the technical information necessary for registration, you will also need to provide a certificate of conformity from the manufacture.


Before driving the vehicle in France and within 1 month of purchase/arrival, you must request the carte grise, or risk a fine of 135€.

You can complete the registration process online yourself. Follow the step by step instructions (in English) here.

You can also avoid the whole Ants process by taking your paperwork to a certified professional who will complete the application for you. For a fee (usually reasonable!), the person will navigate all the French bureaucracy on your behalf. See a list of reader-recommended contacts below.

And if you don’t have all the required documents, they can even provide a 4 month waver certificate, meaning you can drive legally while you find the paperwork.

If you have any further information or would like to share your experiences, please contact us at


  1. French residents don’t have to pay VAT if they import their UK car to France.I am not clear whether second home owners would also not have to pay VAT

  2. I am surprised how many people don’t know the difference between “domicile” & “address”. You are required to show proof of domicile & if you use the EDF bill to your second home it would not be accurate. has this in one of their pages – “In fact, the vehicle registration document must indicate the address of the holder’s main residence. You cannot therefore register your vehicle in the department where you have a second home.” While worded for those who live in France (department), it would be obvious that someone living outside France that a property in France would definitely be in a “department where you have a second home”. This is supported by the fact that anyone who is not on the INSEE database which requires a person to declare income tax or have a french social security or health card number, is prevented from directly using the ANTS website. A garage or dealer still has to confirm that you have provided “proof of domicile” & may put profit first. The problem is that should the car later be involved in a large enough insurance claim the insurance company could reasonably nullify the insurance contract on the basis that the registration & therefore the policy was fraudulently obtained.

  3. Obviously this law has consistently been set up yet in the past the Préfecture never checked, they acknowledged the service bill as evidence of address without stressing over full time residency.

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