How To Change Your UK/Foreign Driving Licence for a French Permis de Conduire: Part 3/3


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How To Change Your UK/Foreign Driving Licence for a French Permis de Conduire: Part 3/3

FrenchEntrée digital editor Zoë Smith takes you through the process of exchanging your UK or foreign driving licence for a French Permis de Conduire – step by step.

Back in August, I started the process of exchanging my British driving licence for a French one and, as promised, I’m taking you through the process with me in real-time. Here’s the latest.

First things first: I applied for my French licence on August 22nd, 2022, and you can read all about the application process and my experience here:

How To Change Your UK/Foreign Driving Licence for a French Permis de Conduire: STEP BY STEP Part 1

After being asked to submit some extra documents, I was then asked to send in my old licence on October 28th, 2022. I did so a couple of days later. Read about that here:

What happened next?

A couple of days after sending my licence by recommended mail, I received confirmation that it had been received.

I received my new French driving licence by signed-for delivery (note that if you are out as I was, you will need to go into the Post Office with your passport or other ID, and sign for it) on November 16th, less than three weeks after sending off my old British licence. Hurray!

Applying for a French driving licence: my verdict

Having heard various reports of difficulties with driving licence applications and rumours of long wait times, I must admit that I was slightly nervous about applying for my own. So, I’m happy to report that I found the entire process swift and smooth!

How long did it take?

The entire process, from filing my initial application to receiving my licence took just under three months. This left me plenty of time before my original licence ran out (but bear in mind, I started the process as early as I was allowed!). Personally, I found the entire process quicker and easier than expected. I also appreciated the text and email updates, which made it very easy to follow the different stages of the application and reassured me that my application was being dealt with.

Remember, though, that this is just my experience – it may take a shorter or longer time for your own application, depending on the amount of applications received that month and other details. It’s also worth noting that I actually live in the Nantes region (44) where the ANTS headquarters is based – this shouldn’t have any affect on the application processing time, but it does mean that postage times might have been quicker than average.

Did I need extra documents?

Yes. I was also asked to provide my birth certificate. Having since heard similar reports from other female applicants, I believe this is being asked for in order to confirm your maiden name. Male applicants do not seem to report being asked for this, but of course, I can’t confirm that this will be the case for everyone!

Did I need to provide translations?

No. While I have heard reports of British applicants being asked to translate certain documents, I was not asked for this. All of my documentation was provided in English and was accepted. However, again, it’s important to note that this may not be the experience for everyone, and unfortunately, if you are asked to provide translations, you will need to provide them.

Anything else to note?

I was also pleased to find that my BE licence (which allows me to pull a trailer) was also correctly carried across to my new licence – this was something I had been worried about as it wasn’t mentioned anywhere on the initial application.

What advice would I give other applicants?

First of all, start your application early. You may apply for a French licence within six months of the expiry date of your British licence, and I suggest filing the initial application as soon as possible after that date. My application took almost three months to process, so please do not leave it later than three months to apply!

Next, be meticulous when filling in the application form – add extra documents if you are unsure and make sure you read and re-read each question to ensure you answer correctly. It took me well over an hour to file my initial application, including gathering all the relevant documents, so set aside a moment when you have time to concentrate. Refer to part 1 for my step by step instructions, but remember that your application might be different to mine, so don’t simply copy my responses!!

Finally, be patient. While I found the whole process to be quicker than expected, if you are unaccustomed to French administration, you might find it hard to allow weeks to go by without a response. Again, follow my own process as a guide and if you haven’t received similar confirmations, chase it up – but if you have, just be patient!

Best of luck!

Disclaimer: Please remember that this application is specific to me and may not be the same for you. Depending on your age, nationality, licence type, and other factors, you may need additional documents to those that I have submitted. However, I hope that by documenting a successful application in real-time it can help guide others in the right direction when filing their own applications. If you have experienced difficulties, delays, or have had a different experience to my own, I encourage you to share your advice in the comments to help others.

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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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  •  Adrian Burton
    2024-02-19 03:39:07
    Adrian Burton
    Hi Zoe, Reading your article on Driving Licence exchange, I read the plight of Grant and his motorcycle licence, He found a section to say all classes are transferred. Sécurite Routière which clearly states that UK licenses are transferable for all categories, as at 9 December 2021! Have you any further information on this or had any further update from Grant since his new application? As this is of great importance as I will be in the same situation and want to keep my Motorcycle class. Kind Regards Adrian


  •  Grant Hendrey
    2023-11-14 09:42:57
    Grant Hendrey
    Hi Zoë, Thanks for your three How to Guides, which I have used to successfully exchange my license. However, a warning to others. I received the French Permit last week only to find my Full UK motorcycle license has not been carried across. They changed the A category to A1, which means I can ride a 125cc of less than 11kw power! Basically a 16 year old's starter license!! I have queried ANTS on this and they replied that an A license has not been transferrable since 2016, and I am entitled to a A2 license in France not an A! They further said that after two years, I can do a 7 hour training session and then get an upgrade to an A license. After extensive internet research I find no official support to their statement! As a motorcyclist of 54 years experience, with seven motorcycles in my garage here in France, all of which require a full A permit. I am devastated. Do you know of other cases like this? I will not be taking this matter lying down, but would like further experiences of others in order to support my case. Thanks again for your very helpful site.


    • Zoë Smith
      2023-11-15 18:57:56
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Grant, Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I'm going to put this question to one of our experts in our webinar tomorrow and see if they have any insight. I'm sure there will be other motorcycle licence holders in similar predicaments. You can sign up for the free webinar here if you're interested - we'll also send out the recording of the event afterwards for anyone who missed it and it will go on our YouTube channel too. Kind regards, Zoe


      •  Grant Hendrey
        2023-11-18 06:56:22
        Grant Hendrey
        Hi Zoë, Thanks for your reply and for bringing the matter up in the webinar( I viewed it on Youtube). An update on the issue: I replied to ANTS's email requesting them to make a correction on the Permit and referred them to the French Government's website Sécurite Routière which clearly states that UK licenses are transferable for all categories, as at 9 December 2021! They immediately replied and told me to create a new Demande on the ANTS portal. This I have done, and received the flurry of computer generated SMS's and emails in response. It will no doubt disappear into the typical French bureaucratic rabbit hole of some months. I will let you know as it progresses, with thumbs crossed on my side. Kind regards, Grant.


        • Zoë Smith
          2023-11-29 07:28:19
          Zoë Smith
          Hi Grant, I'm glad we could address your question, although I'm sorry there was no easy answer. Please do let me know how you get on with reapplying and also if you want to take Richard up on his offer to have a look at your case. Best of luck! Zoe


          •  Grant Hendrey
            2024-02-20 07:07:55
            Grant Hendrey
            Hi Zoë. A short message to bring this issue up to date. The second Demande was responded to, on 10 January, with a further refusal, stating that they consider that I obtained a Category A license as a result of European License Harmonization! If I can send proof of having done a test, they will reassess the application. I did my motorcycle test in 1970 in Edinburgh. The days of paper systems, so no chance of getting a copy of the test results. However I do still have my paper license from 1973 and have now made a 3rd application to ANTS with this on 28 January. So I await their response, as motorcycling season approaches!!! To put my problem into perspective, my wife and I have 7 French registered motorcycles in our garage, non of which I will be ably to use with a Category A1 license!!! Thanks again and I will keep you up to date, and if I need to take up Richard's offer. Best regards, Grant


            • Zoë Smith
              2024-02-20 12:14:17
              Zoë Smith
              Hi Grant, What a nightmare!! I really appreciate you keeping me up to date, and it sounds like there are some other motorcyclists following your plight closely too. It's really useful to have this reason for refusal, as perhaps it will help others in a similar position. I really hope you have success with your 3rd application - I'm crossing my fingers for you! Kind regards, Zoe


  •  Brian May
    2023-06-26 06:02:13
    Brian May
    I went to my local marie in rodez for help at the public services. They telephoned ANTS to ask if i could make the application well before my licence expires they said ok so its been done ive the sms an email of my demand but they have told me to expect my french licence in January 2024 in the post i applied on for this 23 june 2023 8 months later but my uk licence doesn't expire till may 28 2024 so am waiting to see if all goes well hopefully


  • Alex
    2023-01-06 01:59:18
    Zoe, my experience has been very similar. All went smoothly and I now have my French Permis de Conduire. Alex