Whether travelling by ferry or Eurotunnel, bringing your own car to France is a popular option for visitors and second-home owners from the UK. Before you do so, you need to ensure that you are legally able to drive in France and that you comply with the European Motoring Requirements.
From UK stickers and Crit-Air’ stickers, to legal documents and requirements – this handy pre-travel checklist will help ensure you have everything you need before you head across the channel.
Covid-19 travel: please note that this article concerns general post-Brexit information for those travelling by car to France – you can find out the latest details on travel between France and the UK during Covid here.
What Documents Do I Need To Drive in France?
The documents required to legally drive your car in France are mostly the same as in the UK. However, there are a few extra things to add to the list if you plan on crossing the channel. You may be stopped by the police at any time and asked to present these documents, so keep them with you at all times.
- Full, UK driving licence: In order to drive in France, you must be over 18 and hold a full, valid UK driving licence (or aged 16 or over for a moped or motorcycle up to 125cc). If you have a photocard licence issued in the UK, you do not need an international licence to drive in France, nor do you need to bring your DVLA paper licence counterpart.
- V5C registration certificate (log book/vehicle registration document)
- Up-to-date vehicle tax and MOT
- Proof of valid car insurance (see below)
- Crit’air sticker, if required – see our article on Driving in France: Do I Need a Crit’Air Sticker?
- UK sticker clearly displayed on your vehicle (more on this below).
Remember, when driving to France by ferry or Eurotunnel, you will also need your passport and other relevant travel documents. Read our full guide to Post-Brexit Travel Between France and UK: Customs, Passports, & Border Control.
How long can I drive in France with a UK-registered car?
Note that a UK-registered vehicle may be driven legally in France for a period of up to six months within a 12-month period. If you plan to bring your car to France for longer than this, move permanently to France with your car, or keep an English car at your French property, it must be then be registered in France. Read our article on importing a UK vehicle to France for more on this process.
Does my UK car insurance cover me in France?
As of August 2021, you do not need green card travel insurance to drive a UK car in France post-Brexit: however, you must have a minimum level of European insurance.
Valid UK car insurance will typically provide a minimum coverage when driving in France and the EU. The level of insurance and coverage depends upon your individual insurance policy, so it’s vital to check with your insurer before travelling to France. In particular, you should check how long your insurance is valid for overseas (i.e. are you only covered for a 2-week trip, or will it remain valid for an entire 3-month visit to France?) – there may also be a maximum number of days per year that you are covered in France. Check the excess and coverage when you are in France, too, as it is likely to be different to what it covers in the UK.
You may want to increase this insurance to ensure you have full coverage or take out a separate travel vehicle insurance policy with a company that specialises in international coverage. You may also want to take out European breakdown coverage.
Ensuring Your Car is Legal to Drive in France
If you are bringing a UK-registered vehicle to France, you must comply with the European Motoring Requirements. Each vehicle must have:
- A UK sticker clearly displayed on the vehicle (unless your UK registration plates are ‘Europlates’ and display the GB Euro-symbol – this UK sticker now replaces the old ‘GB’ sticker).
- Headlight converters/beam reflectors – stickers or similar that are correctly fitted to avoid your headlamps dazzling approaching drivers when driving on the right. Some cars may have a switch that allows you to change your headlamp orientation, in which case this must be activated.
- A hi-vis/reflective jacket (a minimum of one jacket is required, but ideally, there should be one per person in the car.
- A warning triangle: this is also compulsory, and each car should have one to be used in case of a car accident.
Note that fines are applicable if you are caught travelling without any of the above.
The following are recommended but not compulsory to carry within your car:
- A spare bulbs and fuses kit
- A travel first aid kit
- A fire extinguisher
- NF-certified breathalyser kits
Driving in France: Road Rules and Speed Limits
Driving in France may seem a little daunting to begin with, but you’ll quickly get the hang of it as you drive away from the French port. The first thing to remember is to drive on the right! As you do, be sure to check your blind spots carefully, as having the driver’s seat on the “wrong” side of the car can make visibility for turning and changing lanes more difficult. If you have a co-traveller in the passenger seat, make sure they are aware and ready to help out at junctions and tight corners.
A few key things to remember include:
- In France, the legal alcohol limit is 0.05% (or 0.02% if you’ve been driving for less than three years). This is less than the 0.08% limit in the UK, so if in doubt, it’s best to avoid any alcoholic drinks when you need to drive.
- Using any kind of phone, headphones or headset at the wheel for listening to music or making phone calls (including hands-free and Bluetooth devices) is prohibited and is punishable by a €135 fine.
- It’s also illegal to use radar/camera warning devices when travelling in Franc,e even if this is in-built within your Sat-Nav. The advice is to disable safety camera alerts before driving in France as fines can be heavy if you get caught.
- Children under 10 are not allowed to sit in the front passenger seat of a car in France (unless there are no rear seats with seat belts or the rear seats are already full with other children under 10).
- France’s ‘Priorité à Droite’ rule catches out a lot of British drivers, so read up on this before you start driving in France.
Read our guides to:
Driving in France
Whether you own a car in France, travel to France in your UK or EU-registered car, or hire a rental car – FrenchEntrée has all the need-to-know info about driving in France. Our Essential Reading articles will take you through buying, registering, and insuring your car, as well as offering tips and advice on driving and car ownership in France.