Importing a UK car into France

This is a subject that comes up regularly, with wildly differing experiences for different people (find out more here).

P-O Life reader, Andy, recently emailed us with his SUCCESSFUL experience, kindly providing a step-by-step breakdown of the process and documents needed. Thanks Andy!

I received my carte grise in November 2018 and would like to share my own experience with the online system.

We found ourselves in France with no tax, MOT or insurance and having not informed DVLA of our intentions (a well documented grey area) after having decided to extend our holiday for infinity…

Our biggest obstacle was the fear instilled by online scare stories (such as “waiting 6 months for a CoC” or having to “pay for a DREAL test as well as the £600 for the CoC”).

Our vehicle is a 3.5 ton ‘white van’ with self build camper conversion. Although these are not legal in France (without documentation, safety checks etc) no one at any point commented on this. I wish I had known this before stripping out most of the interior…

1. Online Account

Set up an e-mail account at

Next, set up an account with France Connect, using your email address.

They will send someone from the post office to your house to check your identification in person in order to finalise the account.

With this France Connect account set up, you now have access to the online ANTS service. You can also now set up a direct account with ANTS, but only after your France Connect account has been set up and identified first.

2. CoC

We needed a CoC for our older vehicle from the French offices of the manufacturer.

Although online stories quoted waits of up to six months and compulsory DREAL tests, it turned out – like a lot of online scare stories – to be not true in our case.

So, instead of the dreaded six month wait for the CoC, it took us about five days…

As in all things, just follow the instructions, don’t create obstacles in your head. They needed a photo from the front which didn’t show any changes from the original design. A photo from the back that didn’t show any changes from the original design. A photo of the cab area and the VIN Plate. As long as the photos match their criteria, they are more than happy to just stamp the paperwork without creating extra work for everyone.

Apart from the €545 cost, it was an excellent service.

3. Insurance

We hadn’t intended staying in France, so we hadn’t informed DVLA etc. It’s illegal to have a vehicle in France uninsured, even if it’s on private property. Although there are legal time limits in law to change the plates, it is only an issue if you are actually using the vehicle illegally.

In terms of paperwork, it isn’t an issue, you are not asked about dates of entry, when your UK tax ran out etc.

4. Côntrole Technique 

Next, headlights from a scrap yard, a few days making everything work.

You need only the CoC to get your CT.  It contains relevant information for the tester.

Beware: The French CT has  ‘Minor Problems’ and ‘Major Problems’ The ‘Minor Problems’ are what are called ‘Advisories’ in the UK. Only the ‘Major Problems’ are failures – you can ignore the Minor ones for now.

5. Quittus Fiscal

So, next stop, Tax Office. Made an appointment, got our Quittus Fiscal the same week.

6. Carte Grise

With our UK tax run out and with no French tax, we were in a grey area, much discussed on forums.

Again, at no point on any of the forms are you asked what date you entered the country or when your insurance started or when your UK tax and insurance expired.

They just ask for current documents and your name and address, nothing else.

Just follow the instructions, you need:
  • a current CoC
  • current CT
  • current QF
  • V5
  • Maybe also current insurance, I can’t remember
The French will inform DVLA, don’t worry about any DVLA paperwork.

The online system is not totally finished…

Make sure you send at least all the documents they request and then research which documents they have forgotten to ask for.

In our case, there was a list of ‘required documents’ on the website itself, but most of these were missing from the online form.

There is a space on the  online form for ‘Other Documents’ which you can use to supply these unlisted documents.

So, documents uploaded, waited the required three weeks, after which you are allowed to ring the help line.

One week after this, received  a temporary Carte Grise, had new plates fitted the same day,

Carte Gris arrived three days later by registered post.

In conclusion:

  1. Set up La Poste email account and apply for France Connect & ANTS online account- takes about a week to complete.
  2. Apply for CoC from French office of manufacturer (if K number is NOT shown on V5) It took us 5 days.
  3. Quittus Fiscal from  local tax office. Should take a week tops.
  4. If needed, get Côntrole Technique
  5. So, with your CoC, QF, CT, V5, proof of address apply online, wait four weeks.
  6. Check your e mails and don’t worry about the one which for some reason includes a list of all the reasons for rejection, even though they don’t apply to you.
  7. The email that comes next is the one which asks for your credit card. Our emails came together, one listing generic  ‘Reasons for Rejection’ and the next one a request for payment (212€ including 50% discount for older vehicle)
  8. So in terms of doing paperwork, about six weeks.
  9. Our biggest problem was fear – What If?, What If? That’s what happens when you read too many forum horror stories (people don’t often share good experiences – they just move on. Sometimes the internet makes it seem as if everyone is having problems.
  10. Just follow the instructions, there are literally no pitfalls or trick questions, the whole process is very straightforward and very efficient.

Have you got a car registration experience to share?
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