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I will be relocating to France for work and I want to take my car with me (I will drive to France when I will start working).

The car is currently registered on one of my parents' name.

  1. Can I drive the car if it is not registered on my name?

    • If yes, for how long? Will my parents need to transfer it to myself so I can register it in France?
    • If no, I will have it transferred to me. How long can I drive in France while it is registered in another EU country, before re-registering it as French (since my main residence will be in France)?
  2. What is the procedure to register an EU car as French, what is the cost and what documents will I need to do it? Is there a website with information and material in English and is there an agency/professional who can undertake the procedure for a sensible cost?

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Once you are deemed to be a resident, you're not allowed to drive a car registered abroad (except if the owner of the car is also present), otherwise it would be too easy to circumvent all the other obligations. Consequently, you will not be able to drive with your parents' car while residing in France (see also europa.eu).

If you would be the owner of the car, you have one month to register it in France after moving. And if you buy a car abroad, the rule is the same. So transferring ownership before importing the car will only change the list of documents you have to produce to register it, not how long you will be allowed to drive it. That much is easy.

Now, you need a bunch of documents to register the car in France. The full list is on service-public.fr, but only in French. You will need some proof of address, ID, registration certificate for the vehicle, a couple of forms (your parents can sign one to confirm they want to give you the car), a European type-approval certificate (if you don't have one, you get it from the manufacturer of the car, possibly for a fee) and a roadworthiness test results (you have to pay for that one too, obviously). You also need a “quitus fiscal”, which you can obtain from the tax office.

How much the registration itself costs depends on many things and in particular on the exact vehicle but also where you live (there is a regional tax) and the composition of your family (there are discounts for people with many children).

I am not aware of any comprehensive explanation in English but you are expected to provide everything in French in any case (the authorities can actually demand a written translation) so managing the whole process without enlisting the help of a French speaker will be very difficult.

  • Thanks for the quite informative answer. Some additional questions: When am I officially deemed to be a resident? Is there any professional that can undertake the procedure of registering my car, obviously for a cost? – Manos Forsaken Aug 22 '17 at 20:31
  • @ManosForsaken That's a complex question, which is why I sidestepped it. France does not have a mandatory registration system like Switzerland, Germany or the Netherlands for example. So residence is decided on the facts, with different definitions of residence in different areas of the law. But that's mostly relevant for corner cases and unusual situations. If you rent a flat + open a bank account + start working, you're definitely a resident. – Gala Aug 22 '17 at 21:12
  • I don't think a few days one way or the other make a whole lot of difference either, you can still submit all the form and get the car registered. The main risk is getting caught or causing an accident several months down the line. – Gala Aug 22 '17 at 21:13
  • Regarding your last question, I suppose some people might do that as part of a relocation services for big companies or something like that. But I don't really know and have no idea where to look. – Gala Aug 22 '17 at 21:14
  • My main problem is gathering all the required documents and I have to know how exactly to ask them in my country's services. Since they will not be in French, I guess they would need to be translated to French as well which would require additional days.. – Manos Forsaken Aug 22 '17 at 23:20

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