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:
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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