Changing Your UK Driving Licence in France: DEAL announced!

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Changing Your UK Driving Licence in France: DEAL announced!

For Brits living in France after Brexit, an ongoing worry has been that of driving licences. Applications for French licences have been on pause for months now and many Brits have been left struggling in France without a licence. Finally, however, the UK and France have come to an agreement regarding British driving licences and it’s good news! Here’s what you need to know.

What’s the situation?

Since the UK left the EU, France announced that all British residents in France must change their British driving licence for a French one before December 31st 2021. However, applications had been paused due to the lack of a reciprocal agreement between the UK and France. The good news is that a deal has finally been agreed and the old rules no longer apply. Here are the details.

British Licences issued BEFORE Jan 1st 2021

Under the new rules, if you have a British (EU) driving licence issued before January 1st, 2021, you can legally use this driving licence in France up until it expires. You no longer have to change your licence before the end of 2021.

However, when your licence or photocard expires, you will need to swap your licence for a French one (more about this in a minute).

British Licences issued AFTER Jan 1st 2021

If you have a British (non-EU) driving licence issued after January 1st, 2021, you must change your licence for a French one within one year of the date you arrived in France. For expats who are third-country nationals (i.e. those from the UK), this will be one year from the date you receive your residency permit or Titre de Séjour.

You can read the full details of this agreement in the UK government’s Living in France guide.

What if my UK licence has already expired?

The situation regarding licences has been much more critical for those whose UK licence expired in 2021 and this has put many Brits (particularly retirees over 70 whose licences expire every three years) in the difficult situation of being without a licence. The good news is that France and the UK have mutually agreed to waive the rule that prevents expired licences from being renewed. This means that if your UK licence has expired you can still apply for a French licence to replace your British one.

When you apply for a French licence (more about that below), you will be asked to submit your old licence and will then receive a temporary certificate—an Attestation de Depot de Permis de Conduire. You will legally be able to drive in France using this certificate until you receive your new French licence.

How Do I Apply For A French Licence?

First things first: before you apply for a French licence, make sure you qualify. You will be able to use France’s online portal to exchange your driving licence if you meet any of the following criteria:

  1. I have a British driving licence issued after January 1st, 2021 and have been resident in France for more than six months (183 days).
  2. I have a British driving licence issued before January 1st, 2021 which has less than six months left before the expiry date (NOTE: if you try to exchange your licence earlier than this your application will be rejected).
  3. I have a British driving licence that has expired.

What if I have a pending application?

Many drivers had already submitted an application for a French driving licence before the application portal was suspended in January 2021. If this is the case for you and you have received confirmation that your application is pending (with an application number), your application will continue to be processed. However, if you don’t meet one of the current rules for updating your licence (for example, if your licence is not yet due to run out), your application will be rejected.

Applying for your French licence online

Applying for a French driving licence can be done via France’s online portal for driving licence applications. After signing in, you can find the application form under ‘Mon Espace Conducteur’. Select ‘Demander un permis de conduire’ and click on ‘commencer la demande’ to start the application.

You will be asked to provide:

  • your passport (or photo ID)
  • proof of address (justificatif de domicile) less than 6 months old
  • a passport-style photo that meets the requirements for a driving licence
  • your current licence
  • proof of residence (i.e. your Titre de Séjour)
  • your birth certificate
  • a Certificate of Entitlement from the DVLA in the UK (less than 3 months old) if your licence has expired *note that you should be able to start the application and receive your temporary permit without this.

Certificate of Entitlement or Check Code? – Latest advice as of August 9th 2021.

Many UK licence holders have reported being asked for this ‘certificate of entitlement’ or ‘Attestation de droits de conduire’ regardless of their licence status. This certificate is issued by the DVLA and can take a few weeks to acquire, after which you will likely need to have it translated into French. You can apply for a Certificate of Entitlement using  this application form which you should then email to the DVLA at [email protected].gsi.gov.uk. The DVLA can also be contacted by phone  (0044 300 7906801), but lines are often busy and your call may be disconnected if there are too many callers on hold. 

However, as of August 9th, French Interior Ministry and British Embassy have indicated that for British licences issued by the DVLA, the ‘Check Code’ print-out will be accepted. This service is available on the DVLA website here and allows you to print out or share a copy of your driving record – a far easier and quicker procedure than formally requesting a Certificate of Entitlement. The British Embassy has also indicated that translations will not be required for this document. If you are asked to present a Certificate of Entitlement, we recommend trying this before making the application.

Have you recently exchanged your driving licence or used the ‘check code’ print-out to complete your driving licence application? We’re keen to hear about your success stories or difficulties to better understand how this process is working in practice. Get in touch with us at: [email protected]

If you need help with the application process, a useful resource is the Facebook group Applying for a Driving Licence in France.


Head over to our Brexit zone for the answers to all your other questions regarding pets, second-home owners, and healthcare after Brexit.

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FrenchEntrée's Digital Editor, Zoë is also a freelance journalist who has written for the Telegraph, HuffPost, and CNN, and a guidebook updater for the Rough Guide to France and Rough Guide to Dordogne & Lot. She lives in the French countryside just outside of Nantes.

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Comments

  •  Michael R Turnbull
    2021-08-24 01:33:54
    Michael R Turnbull
    Dear Zoe - French Entree There must be hundreds (or thousands) of people like myself who's driving licence expired prior to 01.01.21 and have been refused an exchange because of ANTS SIX MONTH RULE I applied for an exchange licence twice in Nov 2020 before my licence was due to expire in Dec 2020 but both were refused. I applied again on 5th January 2021 and waited until 30th March to be again told it was rejected – no reason given. (We now know it was because there was no agreement in place between UK and France following Brexit) Since 29th June when the agreement with the UK had been ratified and the website became operational - (EXACTLY SIX MONTHS) - I again applied a few days afterwards but WAS REFUSED BECAUSE OF THEIR SIX MONTH RULE- They put know reason on my but I had to email them for it! They then suggested that I apply to Cherbourg for an International Licence. This I dutifully did, but was again refused by them in the last few days for the same reason! There is no physical health or legal reason why they should refuse me an exchange licence I am 80 years old I live in the countryside in Lot et Garonne I have been driving continually since I was 16yrs I was long distance driving in the UK for 47 years with never an accident in all that time I DO NOT KNOW WHAT ELSE I CAN DO PLEASE HELP -if you can Michael R Turnbull

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    • D. Wheeler
      2021-08-26 11:00:56
      D. Wheeler
      Michael Turnbull, Just a thought, are you sure when ANTS rejected your original application, they weren't just asking for more information from you.? I say this because my app. was in the ants site from last September . my licence expired in Jan. ( 70 yr. rule..) after ants started processing in June I received a message saying my application was rejected and to go to the ants site. After logging in and clicking on the Permis Conduire box your information comes up horizontally , name app. number and state of your application in this case rejet . at the end on the right is the word consulter O/K . After clicking on this all the information you have submitted comes up, as you scroll down you will see name ,address, photo, ect. then you see all your documents passport photocopy uk licence ect. if all is o/k there is something like a green tick by each one, if something is wrong or they need additional info. that part will be opened up with a message saying what is wrong/needed to be submitted... In my case ANTS wanted an up to date document from DVLA and a hand written signed note stating I do not want the C and D groups on my licence. ( even though I didn't tick those boxes on my app. ) after downloading these documents it all went through. I'm only suggesting this because my French is not good and my computer skills are worse.. Its only by trial and error I found my way around the ants site!.. And also I would have thought your age group whose licences are expired would be prioritised .... I'm sure you should be able to get your licence sorted through normal channels..

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    •  David Wheeler
      2021-08-25 09:35:22
      David Wheeler
      Michael Turnbull, I understand the predicament you find yourself in, I too applied for my licence in 2018, 2019, and 2020 I had my paperwork returned after a year because my prefecture stopped processing applications, sent my app. to Nantes, again returned because they started only accepting apps. online, until my licence finally run out in January, I was without my licence for eight months but finally received my licence a few weeks ago!!! As far as I understand you should still be able to exchange your licence for a French one even though it has expired... I also was an HGV driver til I retired, but only applied for the B groups not the C and D here.. ( as you possibly know you need a medical for the C and D's ?. If you need help and advice you could try Kristyne at.... [email protected] She is a French Lady who runs a business helping British people with French paperwork ect.. She is very helpful.. good luck

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  • Stephanie Tanner
    2021-08-18 07:36:36
    Stephanie Tanner
    What do you need to do if you have lost your license. I have a copy of my license. What do I need to do!!

    REPLY

  • phillip roberts
    2021-08-17 07:04:16
    phillip roberts
    Regarding Driving Licences I am a British Resident with a house in France with a UK driving Licence and a French registered car which I do not use in the UK. I do not intend to take French residency, and I only use the car while visiting France. Do I need to do anything regarding licences

    REPLY

  • Jony
    2021-08-12 12:32:52
    Jony
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    REPLY

  • kate guijarro
    2021-08-12 08:43:15
    kate guijarro
    Hello Zoe My husband and I are residents in France for the past 16 years -but we do often to the UK to see family We have read that our UK driving licences will be valid till they expire so we can continue to drive in France - is this correct?? my licence is valid till September 2022 and my husbands UK driving licence is valid till March 2023 My husband suffers from a serious stress problem!! and is not confident about continuing to drive - he feels if stopped by the French Police then he will receive a large fine to pay-it is driving me crazy - his worry!! Is there any way we could receive a notification written in French to show the police should we be stopped whilst driving -that we are indeed allowed to drive with our English licences That is the only way I think I can stop him being stressed By the way think you articles are great -such a great help in the "mindfield" re brexit MANY THANKS can you help us to get a letter in French explaining the new rules so we can shoe this to the police if stopped Hopefully in advance best Regards Kate Guijarro

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  • Colin John Williams
    2021-07-25 08:55:47
    Colin John Williams
    Hi, The uk DVLA have sent me a reminder to renew my uk license as I'm going to be 70, but I have lived in france and have a frence license for 4 years, I sent my uk license back to uk at that time, should I just ignore renewal notice. Regards. Colin

    REPLY

  • MICHAEL SEDGLEY
    2021-07-17 01:35:23
    MICHAEL SEDGLEY
    If i have a UK driving licence that has a number of years to run and will not be able to exchange it for a French licence yet, then can i take French driving lessons and qualify for a French licence if i pass their test.

    REPLY

  • Malik
    2021-07-14 12:34:41
    Malik
    Hi, i am living in france since 2012, and i am using my Uk driving licence here. I apply for exchanging my uk driving licence into french driving licence at 01_01_2021 on ANTS. My licence is expired in march 2021 and ANTS reply me 02 juillet 2021 for demanding 3 month certificate from uk driving licence or DVLA. I try to get online for this certificate but its not possible because licence is expired, then i contact with DVLA by telephone they said we cant give you any detail like on telephone , if ANTS require any information so they contact with us. i cant understand what can i do? ANTS reply me after expire my licence and demand for certificate. any suggestions to help me regards

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  •  Martin Crouch
    2021-07-10 08:48:26
    Martin Crouch
    Enough to drive you mad; but not enough to permit me to drive in France. I have applied on the ANTS website and did not get to complete the application before I received a refusal. I have held a British Driving license since 1975, and although my family has been here for 19 years , myself 10, we are suddenly getting a very cold shoulder from both the French and DVLA. Partially, this is of my own making; I knew my license would need to be renewed when I was 70 so I put it off until that day arrived, which was April this year. I was concerned that I would lose additional categories that I held , such as motorbike and towing trailers as this had happened when my wife exchanged hers for a French license. In 2018 I had my briefcase stolen in Scotland. I lost my passport and other important documents which included my driving license although I did not realize at the time. The theft was reported but nothing ever came of it. I have since visited the prefecture in Bourges who kindly assisted me with the Ants application but as I had already applied it was of course a roadblock. Having read your article above I attempted to contact DVLA (which was the prefecture advice). Lots of fun. Email: nowhere could I leave a general enquiry ; they are all specific and none covered my circumstances and also required entry of a valid UK postcode. Phone: No chance whatsoever. We experience very high levels of unavailability , no dialing tone on the house phone and absolutely no signal on mobile phones. SFR our provider have been of no assistance. Up that well known creek with no paddle!

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  •  Mark
    2021-07-06 01:31:52
    Mark
    My experience with the driving licence exchange has shown me a terrible attitude from this french department towards brittish citizens living in france. I had the same thing happen to me as another coment on here, whereby after 6 months of my exchange application i got a request for more infomation of my proof of address which in fact fullfilled all the stated requirements, though i wasnt emailed as stated they would do on the website. Fortunately i was checking the status regularely so i contacted them but they could not tell me what was wrong with the doccument i had provided, or give me any other information or advice. I even had native french speakers talk with them but they held the same line, then after end of december nothing, no way to contact save an online portal that gave an automatic and apparently irrelevent responce, when i tried to contact them again via the same portal i have yet to recieve a responce after 4 months.. Today i noticed they are now asking for the d373 form less than 3 months old. A joke because the medical and everything else i submitted in the aplication is now over a year old.

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  •  John curtis
    2021-07-05 10:31:42
    John curtis
    Hi, I have a huge problem I live alone , I have been here in France since last September, I don’t have a computer everything is done on my iPhone , I cannot speak or read French, i’m 71, and very stressed about exchanging my license which ran out in April , I went for a medical and filled in application form for French license , not sure it it’s correct form , any suggestions to help me regards

    REPLY

    • Zoë Smith
      2021-07-06 11:30:32
      Zoë Smith
      Hi John, If you don't have anyone who would be able to help you with your application in French (a neighbour or someone from your local mairie, for example), I suggest that you contact an English-speaking translator (you can search our directory here for your region: https://www.frenchentree.com/listings/?listing_search=&listing_category=2439&listing_region=). It sounds like you will be entitled to exchange your licence even though it has expired, but unfortunately, the online system is only available in French. All the best,

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  •  Kathy Gaul
    2021-07-04 01:31:24
    Kathy Gaul
    What if you have French licence which has categories that have expired.e.g. pulling a trailer, driving a mini bus. I have tried to renew my licence without the categories but no success. The categories aired in April 2021

    REPLY

  • Clive Tucker
    2021-07-01 09:24:24
    Clive Tucker
    Hi, I am currently living in France and I have actually lost my UK licence which is still valid, can I apply for a French licence? I am not allowed to apply for a renewal in the uk

    REPLY

    • Zoë Smith
      2021-07-06 11:33:06
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Clive, When you make the application for a French licence online, there is an option to select for a stolen or lost licence. I'm not able to get any further in the application process (as I don't have an expired licence) but it appears that this is a valid reason to apply for a French licence. Do let us know how you get on

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  •  Jennifer Swift
    2021-07-01 08:34:09
    Jennifer Swift
    To Richard, I did get through at the end of today to a helpful agent at the DVLA. Unfortunately she was unable to send me the D737 form which the ANTS site requested as my licence expired in March whilst I was waiting for my application to be processed and so I have no entitlement to drive. She tried to be helpful and suggested I contact someone at ANTS and ask them if they would accept some other form. I have seen complaints about the DVLA but seriously they, and the UK government, simply cannot comprehend just how many, and what bizarre, hoops we have to jump through !!! Courage !!!

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  • Richard Catmur
    2021-06-30 11:48:46
    Richard Catmur
    "if your UK licence has expired you can still apply for a French licence to replace your British one" - this is good news, however it seems that to do this you still need a form "D737 Certificate of Entitlement" from the DVLA. It appears this can only be obtained by talking to a human at the DVLA and "all our lines are busy, please try later...". So unfortunately it may not be quite as easy as it you make it seem...

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  •  Mr Darryl White
    2021-06-30 08:51:10
    Mr Darryl White
    Hi ,How long does a French driving license last for please.

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  •  chrissie pearcey
    2021-06-30 08:13:26
    chrissie pearcey
    I have a current 'Titre de Sejour' which will expire in 2028. I have an English Driving licence which sadly is being renewed at present, so I will not be able to use my licence in France. My French driving licence dates from 1978 is stamped twice in the 'Permit Delivre a Titre' PERMANENT. Does this mean I can still use it or would it have lapsed? When I moved to Paris I no longer needed a car in France. Now I have moved back to the country I would like to have some clarification but do not know who to contact as I seem to go round and round in circles...being sent on one false trail after another. Ghrrr! sincerely chrissie p.

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  •  Margaret
    2021-06-30 07:58:25
    Margaret
    Not only has my application to change my licence been in limbo for six months since December so has my application to change my car to french I was told numerous times that I needed my french licence to be completed to change my car. I still have not heard about my car. But now have a number for my licence processing Nobody seems to realise the stress and strain including the tears and frustration of being fobbed off with excuse after excuse and not once being told the truth.not only that but no official person to Speak to, yes passwords were given to follow any progress but they did not work. Eventually by phone ( a french friend got through for me) I was promised my licence three times and it never appeared. Had i been told that it was not possible at the moment and the reason for that being Brexit, it would have saved my and many of my elderly friends the terrible mental distress and illness. The most annoying thing of all is that this week I was told by a friend of mine that she payed a private firm to get their car changed it took just six weeks at a charge of 150 euros as they claimed they had priority with the french department. how unfair is that. I am approaching 75 years old and life is hard enough at the moment without all this

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  • Clark Mike
    2021-06-30 04:46:32
    Clark Mike
    Well Miss Zoe i hope this info is correct, it will make a change if someone actually knows what is going on here. I assume if i find myself in trouble with he authorities here after following your advice that i will be able to refer them to you and you will take full responsibility for the the advice you have given? Mike

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  •  LePoing
    2021-06-29 08:11:23
    LePoing
    I'm afraid that it isn't advisable to put trust in the attitude of the ANTS driving licence office. My wife applied for a French licence to replace her expiring UK licence in September 2020, some six weeks before expiry at age 70. Nothing was done with her online application for almost 4 months when ANTS queried a supporting document (which was correct at first submission) simply as a means to push the application into 2021 so they could put it on hold with all the other Brits. Now French Entrée has published this 'good news' my wife has logged-on to monitor the progress of her application, only to find it has been deleted. So my wife will now need to walk the 6kms to the nearest photo-booth to get a new photograph. The anti-Brit attitude is deeply rooted in some administrative departments in France, it's such a shame when different office of the same agency are superb when it comes to re-registering imported vehicles.

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