Is my driving licence valid in France ?

The French Law ( articles R222-1 to 222-8) makes a difference between driving license holders of  European Union and those from outside the EU.

Citizens of an European Union country

The driving license of a Member State of the EU is valid in the entire territory of the European Union (and of course in France as well), following the rule of free circulation of people in the Union.

However, in case of a driving offense, leading to the loss of points according to French traffic rules, the other Member State driving license is no longer valid and the exchange with a French permit becomes compulsory.

That is the reason why it is recommended, for a long duration stay, to exchange the foreign permit immediately upon arrival in France.

The exchange of the driving licence, requires a simple demand at the Prefecture. In any case the exchange will be subject to responding to a questionnaire and the remittance of: a justification of presence in France for at least 6 months, a photocopy of the foreign driving licence, a justification of domicile, 2 identity pictures and an original ID (or passport). Only originals are accepted.

Citizens of outside the European Union

The resident of a country outside the European Union is allowed to use its driving license, providing he uses it occasionally in France.

However, the driving license is only valid 1 year for any citizen of outside the EU residing permanently in France.

The exchange then becomes compulsory.

Where to exchange its foreign driving license ?

At the Prefecture of his domicile.

What are the conditions for a foreign driving license exchange ?

A foreigner in France must have obtained his driving license, before receiving his first residence permit. The foreign country of origin must apply the reciprocity with the French authorities. The driving license must be valid and must have been delivered from the State where its holder resides usually. It must be in French language or be officially  translated ( by a certified translator). The minimum age is required to drive, in France,  a vehicle of similar category. The beneficiary cannot have been suspended or his driving restricted, neither can his licence having been cancelled in his home country.

A request from a French National who would have obtained a foreign driving licence can exchange it against a French permit, if he has been living at least 6 months in the country where the licence was delivered

The foreign driving license is not the same as the International driving license that allows the holder to drive in a country that does not recognize foreign driving licenses. It can be obtained at the Prefecture and allows the holder to drive in every country without any restriction within a period of 3 years

Important to know. A foreigner declaring its main residence in France must have his car registered, within a month at the Prefecture of his new residence.