Bringing your own car when you move to France or Italy? Here are some tips to help you save money

If you are researching how to register your vehicle in France, you will notice that two documents are frequently mentioned, the Certificat de Conformité and the Contrôle Technique. One or both are always essential, depending on what type and age of vehicle you have. Unfortunately, the information you find online can sometimes be misleading, costing you time, money or even the frustration of an unsuccessful registration. With wide experience in successfully registering thousands of vehicles every year in France and Italy, our friendly vehicle registration team at French Connections FCB have a few invaluable tips to share with you.

Let’s start with the Certificat de Conformité  You will almost always be asked to provide a European Certificate of Conformity, no matter what age or type of vehicle you wish to register. This is a document provided by the manufacturer of your vehicle (Ford, Peugeot, Audi etc.) that certifies its conformity to European standards. Without it, your vehicle registration will not succeed. Please note that your vehicle must already be in France to begin the registration process; this cannot be started before you arrive. Many websites offer to provide you with a Certificate very quickly, but there is a problem. An ICOC (Independent Certificate of Conformity) will not be accepted by the French authorities. The certification must come from the original manufacturer or one of their registered / validated representatives.  You can see the difference in the two examples below. The Nissan certificate was accepted while the independent one was rejected.

The Conformity document is usually accepted in any language, but you are at the whim of the agent in charge of your file who may refuse it unless it is in French. In that case, your best course of action is to request a French version from the manufacturer in France. If the manufacturer of your car does not exist in France, you will need to go through the DREAL (Direction Régionale Environnement Aménagement Logement) which is the body responsible for validating the conformity of vehicles that don’t have a certificate. This is a very long and costly process, as the authorities may require modifications to be made to your vehicle to make sure it conforms.
There are occasions when a Certificate of Conformity is not required at all. If the ‘K’ line of your registration certificate is filled in, you can start the registration process without providing the document. That’s because it already has a European approval number. If the agent in charge of your file specifically requests a certificate, you can provide it at a later stage.

Now let’s talk about the Contrôle Technique The Contrôle Technique is a test carried out every two years on vehicles over 4 years old. It is the equivalent of the UK MOT. The purpose of the test is to ensure that the vehicle is safe and in good condition to drive on French roads. Your vehicle must have successfully passed a French or European Contrôle Technique no more than 6 months before you begin the French registration process.

Organising a Contrôle Technique in France is very easy as many garages offer that service and they are clearly marked. You will need to bring your (foreign) vehicle registration certificate with you to the appointment. Some garages may also ask for your Certificate of Conformity. If you don’t have it, our advice is to simply make an alternative appointment at a garage that doesn’t require it. Please note that as the UK is no longer part of the EU, British MOTs are increasingly being refused. We strongly advise that you do your Contrôle Technique in France to make sure that your registration application will be valid

What happens if my vehicle fails its Contrôle Technique? You can still apply for registration if your vehicle fails its Contrôle Technique, but you must undergo a successful inspection within two months. Even when you have successfully passed the Contrôle Technique, the agent in charge of your file could still legitimately request a Certificate of Conformity to finalise the process. That’s because the Contrôle Technique makes sure your vehicle is safe and in good condition to drive but does not verify its conformity to French road standards. Only a Certificate of Conformity can do that. 

While the car registration process can be frustrating, there is good news about driving in France. Unlike most countries, France has no annual road tax to pay. The only ongoing fees you will have to pay once your car is registered in France are a bi-annual Contrôle Technique plus the usual insurance and vehicle maintenance. There are no additional taxes as they are all paid as part of French registration.

If you are looking for a competitive insurance quote we highly recommend our English-speaking partner, fabfrenchinsurance.com

Meanwhile, if you’d like to talk to our friendly admin team at French Connections HCB about handling the registration of your car from start to finish, simply contact us at [email protected], call +33 1 85 65 74 98 or chat with us online at frenchconnectionshcb.com  

If we are unsuccessful in registering your car, even for reasons beyond our control, we’ll give you a full refund. So call us today and we’ll soon have you motoring.

Kind regards, French Connections HCB Team

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