Temporary exchange for recreational & adventure vehicle

Roadtrip in France : what driving license for foreigners ?


Thanks to driving license exchange agreements between countries and the International Driving Permit, it is increasingly easy to be able to drive your RV to the 4 corners of the globe. Find out if your driving license is sufficient for your next roadtrip !

What is the International Driving Permit ?

You should know that from the moment you go abroad, it is preferable to opt for the International Driving Permit (IDP) in order to circulate in complete peace of mind. The international permit is the official translation of your national permit. It must be issued by the country in which you obtained your driving licence. However, depending on the country where you are traveling and for a short stay, your permit may be well enough. Check well before your departure that you do not need to ask for an IDP because the process can take a few weeks.

What permit do you need for a roadtrip in France ?

If you come to France for your holidays, you can easily drive with your foreign driving license. The latter will simply have to meet two criteria :

• be valid. Indeed, it is forbidden to drive in France with an expired foreign licence. You must not have been subject to a suspension, cancellation or restriction of your driving rights in the country of issue of your licence.

• it must be accompanied by a French translation or be accompanied by an IDP. If you wish to obtain the translation once you arrive in France, you will have to contact a certified translator. You will find a list of experts to contact on the website of the French Court of Cassation. You can also contact your consulate or embassy directly.

Beyond a short stay (i.e. for a stay beyond 185 days), you will be considered as having your normal residence in France. You will therefore have to apply to exchange your license for a French license (if your country practices exchange with France, otherwise you will have to pass the French license).

To exchange your national license for a French licence, you must provide the following documents : 

• the license exchange application form (cerfa n°14879*01) completed, dated and signed

• form 06 cerfa n°14948*01 completed, dated and signed

• 2 copies of your foreign driving license and its official translation

• proof of address

• a certificate of your driving rights produced by the State that issued your driving license

• 2 copies of your identity card or passport (for French, Swiss or European expatriates

• 2 passport photos

• a copy of student card for student requests

• 2 copies of your residence permit or Ofii passport sticker for non-European applicants

Please note that you will need to submit the original version of each document.

Can I drive the same vehicles in France that with my foreign licence ?

Please note that the regulations in France are not the same with regard to the driving of recreational vehicles. The standard French license (the category B license) allows you to drive vehicles weighing up to 3,500 kg. In other countries, such as Canada or the United States, the standard license allows you to drive vehicles weighing up to 4,500 kg. During a stay in France, it is the French regulations that you will have to follow and your standard license will therefore only be valid for RVs whose weight is less than or equal to 3,500 kg. If you wish to drive a heavier vehicle, you will need to hold a license equivalent to the heavy vehicle license in France. Pay attention to this detail before planning your stay.

What to do in case of loss or theft of your driving license during your stay in France ?

If you get unlucky and lose your foreign driving license during your stay, you will need to contact your consulate or embassy. You will be able to obtain a document attesting to the validity of your driving rights and declare the loss or theft of your licence. You may be redirected to another organization which will issue you the certificate of validity of rights. With the certificate and receipt for the declaration of loss or theft in your pocket, you can continue to drive your RV serenely for two months (max). Once back in your country, you can contact the competent organization to request the renewal of your national driving license.

During a roadtrip in France, what do you risk in the event of a traffic violation ?

Be careful, if you do not respect French legislation in the context of the highway code, you risk having to pay a fixed fine. If you cannot pay or if the violation is not sanctioned by this type of fine, your RV could be held until a deposit is paid. The amount may vary depending on the seriousness of the offence. If you do not pay the consignment, your vehicle may be impounded and the costs are your responsibility. The public prosecutor has a maximum of 24 hours to rule on your case from the observation of the offence.
If you were not arrested in France at the time of the offense and depending on your nationality, you may be prosecuted and sanctioned once you return to your country. You will receive a violation notice translated into your language. You will find the nature of the offence, the date and time, and the procedure for paying the fine or contesting it. We therefore advise you to find out about the differences in traffic regulations before setting off on your trip.
Have you ever thought about exchanging a recreational vehicle? SwapTheRoad is a collaborative platform bringing together travel lovers, all RV owners. By joining the SwapTheRoad family, you can borrow, reciprocally or not, the recreational vehicle of a member of the community residing in a country you wish to visit! Destination, RV model, dates of stay… program your ideal stay with SwapTheRoad  !



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