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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It is our understanding that non-residents cannot own a car due to problems getting it registered, licensed and titled. Once you have been in France for one year, can you purchase/license/register a car?

Or, like most things, is it a more complicated question? Any guidance is appreciated.
 

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It is our understanding that non-residents cannot own a car due to problems getting it registered, licensed and titled. Once you have been in France for one year, can you purchase/license/register a car?

Or, like most things, is it a more complicated question? Any guidance is appreciated.
I'm not a residence in France, as I own a vacation home that I frequent 4 months a year or so (no OFII). But I did buy a used car 2 months ago, and I needed:

Money (I paid by check for the whole amount)
The Usual (passport, electricity bill, etc)
International Drivers License (this was requested by my insurance company). You can get the IDL at AAA in the States in about 30 minutes.

The process wasn't too painful, but I'm still waiting for my carte grise so show up. The garage where I bought the car didn't send all the proper information to the sous-prefecture, so they are working it out. I was told if I do get pulled over for any reason to have the police contact the prefecture and they'll tell them I'm legit. I'm not holding my breath on that one so I'm being quite careful. ;)
 

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If by non-resident, you mean you're not living there full time, but you have a summer home or vacation home there, then you should be able to buy and register a car (with a little effort - but that's France).

But how you phrase your question makes me think maybe we're not understanding correctly. It doesn't take a year to establish residence in France. If you're on a long-stay visa, you're resident for the period of time that your visa/resident permit is valid for. The main thing you need to register a vehicle is proof of address (which is always something of a "challenge" here in France, for a variety of reasons).

The tricky bit may be getting insurance for a car (which you must have, I believe, to register the car).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
We're applying for our long-stay visa, and intend to make France our home. Both of us are going to be retired by the time we get there. Have an apartment that we'll rent, a French bank account, and telephone service arranged.

Maybe I should have just asked what the rules are regarding our ability to purchase a car and drive in France - when we can do so and what we need to make it happen.
 

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We're applying for our long-stay visa, and intend to make France our home. Both of us are going to be retired by the time we get there. Have an apartment that we'll rent, a French bank account, and telephone service arranged.

Maybe I should have just asked what the rules are regarding our ability to purchase a car and drive in France - when we can do so and what we need to make it happen.
You can drive in France on your US licence for up to a year. If you intend staying longer and your licence is issued by a State that has a licence exchange agreement with France (which Colorado does http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/---_liste_definitive_permis_de_conduire_valables_a_l_echange_02_2017_---_2__cle085da1.pdf, which you would have to do within a year https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1460. Be aware that at some Prefectures you need to apply in advance and that the requirements may vary.

As for buying (and insuring) a car, it's possible that it may take you 3 months or so to establish the necessary proof of address etc. s that the carte grise can be issued. Any respectable car dealer should arrange the carte grise, but it will be up to you to arrange insurance first. For insurance purposes, it would be useful to have evidence from your US insurer of any no-claim bonus so that you can take advantage of similar arrangements in France. If your US Drivers Licence does not show the date it was first issued and that you are not a recently licensed driver, then providing documentary evidence of that will ensure that you don't pay higher premiums for being an inexperienced driver (not sure how many years are required, but I think it's something under 5 years).

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks, I know all the license and driving stuff, and am fortunate to be coming from Colorado, with reciprocal privileges.

What is the document that I need from my insurer, here? Or would a statement from my agent as to my record with the company - years of coverage and claims history - suffice? And do I need to have it translated (and certified)?
 

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It will depend a bit on the insurer you go with. Once you have a bank account set up, you can talk to your bank and see what sort of a deal they'll do for you on insurance. (You'll need a couple other policies - civil responsibility and possibly some insurance connected to your renting of a property. Like in the US, putting all your insurance with one broker or bank or agent can yield some "deals.")
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Thanks, I know all the license and driving stuff, and am fortunate to be coming from Colorado, with reciprocal privileges.

What is the document that I need from my insurer, here? Or would a statement from my agent as to my record with the company - years of coverage and claims history - suffice? And do I need to have it translated (and certified)?
I don't know how it works in the US, but Australian insurers generally have a standard certificate they issue re no-claim bonus and I was able to request that via internet, they emailed a pdf document to me and I was sorted. But then, I don't even know if you have no-claim bonuses in the US. Perhaps check with your US insurer what they would be able to provide you with.
 

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The US insurance market isn't terribly "standardized" (actually, it's not terribly well regulated, either, but that's another topic for another discussion) and I've found in practice that even the insurers over on this side of the pond may ask for different documents. In Germany, my insurer wanted my state "driving record" - and when I requested that from the state of California, what I got back was a blank sheet of paper, that was supposed to indicate I had no tickets, no infractions and no other "issues" - but the Germans were a little freaked out by it.

Some prefectures here seem to ask for your "driving record", while others don't. Probably not a bad idea, in any event, to get some sort of statement from your insurer that indicates any and all discounts you receive - whether for "no claims" or whatever. Another thing that "counts" in playing the insurance game is longevity with your last insurer (and of course the statement from the insurer that you've been a customer for "X years" or whatever).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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...What is the document that I need from my insurer, here? Or would a statement from my agent as to my record with the company - years of coverage and claims history - suffice? And do I need to have it translated (and certified)?
We did something quite like what you're asking about, as far as I can tell. We bought a house in France, used it for vacations for a few years, then decided to move to France permanently. Until we moved, we rented cars during our visits.

After having decided to move and receiving our Visa de Longue Sejour, we went to a car dealer, arranged to buy a car, and take delivery. We already had a French insurer who'd been providing our home insurance. Other than paying, their only request was that we provide our driving record from our US insurer.

We had 2 insurance companies for the period specified. I called them to ask about it and it seemed as if they received requests of this type fairly often. It took only a few days for them to write and send me a letter that laid our our driving records. It needs to show the years you were insured and whether you had any accidents. I gave that to our French insurer and we were good to go. We did not have these documents translated, though I did talk with our agent a bit when I delivered them. It is the case that the French take signed attestations as proof. That was all we needed (i.e., nothing from our home state).

One note: Do make sure you apply to swap your US license for a French license as soon as possible. The process must be completed during your first year in France. If not, you'll have to go through the drivers training process.

Best of luck.

Ray
 
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