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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