I'm about to start a Phd in France, moving from the UK, and am looking to get a car for when I am there. I would like to know if it is necessary to register a car bought in the UK, in France under these conditions. I have heard that students do not need to register cars, however, I will have a contract for my Phd, and will be living there all year round.

Thanks in advance.

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    There are no special rules for students, but generally within Europe you can use a car abroad for a year (I think). If you are buying a car it might be better to buy it in France. – Tomas By Nov 8 '18 at 15:16
  • If you don't own a car yet, it's certainly better to buy one there, for it will be LHD. – gerrit Nov 8 '18 at 15:25
  • Cheers for the advice. I was actually looking into buying a LHD here. It would mean I could drive over with my things, but also I've heard that it is a far better market for buying a car in the UK rather than in France (more people buy new in the UK, weak pound, typical milage lower in UK...) – Alistair Bell Nov 8 '18 at 18:38
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    I'll guess, however, that if you buy in France, you'll have less bureaucratic hassle compared to importing and re-registering a UK vehicle. – DavidSupportsMonica Nov 8 '18 at 23:07
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    You can buy the car in UK, leave it registered to your parents' address, and just go back once a year (or not, nobody really cares). If you plan on using it later in UK, this makes sense. – Tomas By Nov 10 '18 at 21:33

You're going to be a resident of France, and as such you will have one month to re-register a car with foreign plates which you take with you.

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/registering-car-france.html :

Your UK driving licence is valid in France until it expires, while you are allowed to keep UK plates for up to six months if you are a non-resident of France, and up to one month for French residents. The time allowed for French residents can be extended up to a maximum of three months should a vehicle need to be approved via the DRIRE*. In the past these time limits have not seemed to have been strictly adhered to, but insurance laws are now tightening and this should no longer be the case.

* Direction Régionale de l'Industrie, de la Recherche et de l'Environnement

I think this official site is talking about the same one month limit (emphasis in original):


Avant de faire circuler pour la 1ere fois votre véhicule d'occasion acquis à l'étranger (importé), vous devez dans le délai d’un mois, sous peine d’amende, faire établir le certificat d’immatriculation, aussi appelé « carte grise ».

Disclaimer: note that I haven't lived in France and I don't know whether you will have some margin due to not being officially resident until some other bureaucratic process has finished. Hopefully someone with experience in the matter can give a better answer, but I was alarmed by some attempts to answer in the comments which I know to be wrong in Spain and which I fear could potentially open you up in the worst case to criminal charges by causing you to drive without valid insurance.

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