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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,

I am putting together a dossier to exchange my Virginia driver's license for a French one at the sous-prefecture in Rambouillet. Based on advice from this site, I took 10 hours of lessons at an auto-ecole to get comfortable with driving manual and priorite a droite, and I'm reading the Code Rousseau on my own time (both of which have been extremely useful, and I would recommend anyone else exchanging a license to do the same!).

Two questions that have come up:

1. Do I keep my license between the time I submit the dossier to the sous-prefecture and the day I actually go in to exchange it for a French one? I contacted a few traducteurs assermentes to get price quotes for translating the license and my driving record, and one of them is trying to upsell me on an "extra bilingual file authenticated with an apostille to allow you to drive while the file is being dealt with", for a mere extra 40 euros. This seems to me like a load of hogwash, because from what I understood from the sous-prefecture's website, I will still have my license while the file is being processed, no? They will convoke me to present the original, and then a second time for the exchange, right? (I am also 99% sure that only governments are capable of issuing apostilles, but that's a side issue)

2. I downloaded an online version of my driving record and a DMV compliance summary saying I haven't had my license suspended or revoked. Has anyone had success using printed-out online docs for this? They don't look as official as I would have liked them to (given that this is France), and I'm not sure if I'm going to run into problems if the sous-prefecture wants the "originals", since they look no more original than a photocopy. To be fair, I'm not sure that I would get better copies if I asked my parents to go wait in line at the DMV, since they may very well print the exact same thing.

Thanks for any clarification or personal experiences!
L
 

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Hey all,

I am putting together a dossier to exchange my Virginia driver's license for a French one at the sous-prefecture in Rambouillet. Based on advice from this site, I took 10 hours of lessons at an auto-ecole to get comfortable with driving manual and priorite a droite, and I'm reading the Code Rousseau on my own time (both of which have been extremely useful, and I would recommend anyone else exchanging a license to do the same!).

Two questions that have come up:

1. Do I keep my license between the time I submit the dossier to the sous-prefecture and the day I actually go in to exchange it for a French one? I contacted a few traducteurs assermentes to get price quotes for translating the license and my driving record, and one of them is trying to upsell me on an "extra bilingual file authenticated with an apostille to allow you to drive while the file is being dealt with", for a mere extra 40 euros. This seems to me like a load of hogwash, because from what I understood from the sous-prefecture's website, I will still have my license while the file is being processed, no? They will convoke me to present the original, and then a second time for the exchange, right? (I am also 99% sure that only governments are capable of issuing apostilles, but that's a side issue)

2. I downloaded an online version of my driving record and a DMV compliance summary saying I haven't had my license suspended or revoked. Has anyone had success using printed-out online docs for this? They don't look as official as I would have liked them to (given that this is France), and I'm not sure if I'm going to run into problems if the sous-prefecture wants the "originals", since they look no more original than a photocopy. To be fair, I'm not sure that I would get better copies if I asked my parents to go wait in line at the DMV, since they may very well print the exact same thing.

Thanks for any clarification or personal experiences!
L
Hi

One's US license / Temporary French permit de conduire: When we exchanged our US licenses for French permits de conduire, we gave the Prefecture our US license the day we applied and they, presumably kept it (and it's now in our dossier).

The Prefecture gave us (as part of the application process) a temporary French permit de conduire. The temporary license was a full size sheet of paper on which was printed a few lines of text that served as our temporary license. One of the passport-sized photos we were required to provide with our application was attached to the paper. When we received our new permit de conduire, we were required to give them back the temporary license.

Driving record: I don't remember giving the Prefecture our driving record. It was my understanding that the Prefecture got our driving record from our State in the US, but I didn't ask about that at the time.

The process may be different now, of course. That's how it was 4 1/2 years ago.

Best of luck.

Ray
 

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As Ray indicates, the procedure varies over time and definitely by prefecture. I've noticed that some prefectures handle the whole thing by mail these days !?

But I think you're right in that only the issuing agency (i.e. at the state level) can issue an apostille. What the translator may be referring to is that, traditionally, a traducteur assermenté is not only translating a document, but also attesting to its validity. This appears to be changing, however, but back when I was going through all that kind of stuff, you needed to find a traducteur assermenté not only for the right language (English) but also one "assermenté" for the right country (i.e. USA). I don't see that advertised any more so perhaps that requirement has been or is being relaxed.

The "driving record" is a fairly recent requirement - back when I was applying, it was only your insurer who asked for such things. There has also been a requirement in some prefectures for a document declaring that you were a resident of the state at the time the license was issued and up until your departure for France - or for the six months or one year immediately prior to your arrival in France. That's the one that can be really hard to get. But even when I had to get a driving record for the insurer, the document the state sent me was pretty non-descript. No stamps, seals or whatever. At a certain point, you just have to tell the prefecture that, "this is what they gave me" and see if it will fly.

Are you mailing in your dossier or going in person to present it? In any event, I would take one or two photocopies of your license. If you have to surrender your US license, keep the photocopies with you just in case you're asked to produce your license. If the prefecture gives you a receipt or temporary license, keep that with the copies of your original license. Chances are you won't have to use them - but if you do, it's a clear and logical "proof" of what's happening.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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The Prefecture gave me a temporary licence when I exchanged, as happened with RayRay. Prior to moving to the issue of temporary licences, as I understand it the Prefectures only took your overseas licence when you picked up your French licence.

I have no idea how that works with mailed applications and I suspect that it may work differently if you make application through a Sous-Prefecture that doesn't process the application itself but on-forwards it to the Prefecture. In these instances I would definitely keep photocopies of the original licence, however IIRC the translation done and certified by a traducteur assermenté would serve that purpose and my translator provided me with a couple of extra copies duly signed and sealed (which renders them equivalent to the original here in France, including for all court purposes). Maybe that's what the OP's translator was talking about - although the fee is higher than I paid (but then my translator has very reasonable fees).
 

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when I exchanged mine, they took the license and gave me a document to act as a license (do not remember if it had a photo or not though)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
There has also been a requirement in some prefectures for a document declaring that you were a resident of the state at the time the license was issued and up until your departure for France - or for the six months or one year immediately prior to your arrival in France.

Ok, good to know. There is nothing about this on the website or the list of documents attached to the exchange form, but if they should ask for it, would monthly bank statements mailed to my VA address suffice?

Are you mailing in your dossier or going in person to present it?


I'm mailing it in, and they don't ask for the license to be mailed with the dossier, which is why it seems to me that it would stay in my possession. They will apparently give me a date to come in person to show the original, and possibly a different one (unclear whether these are 2 seperate convocations or a single one) to carry out the exchange.

In any case it seems from the commenters that I will receive some kind of a temporary license or paper if at some point they do take my license, which is good to know. In that case I will not be paying an extra fee to the translator. Thanks all!
 

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Wait for them to ask for something additional before you start worrying what to provide. These things seem to go in waves - they ask for something for a while, then drop it - whether because they decide it would be better to allow postal applications or maybe they just decided it wasn't worth the hassle.

If you're mailing the dossier in, send them exactly what they are asking for, no more, no less. If they are missing something, they'll either call you or send the whole thing back and request whatever it is in writing. If it's not on their website, they probably don't need or want it (anymore?).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I am going through the exchange process with the SP of Rambouillet also. They didn't ask for a driving record from what I read. Am I missing something? I mailed my dossier a week ago. I assume if they need more documents they will request.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I am going through the exchange process with the SP of Rambouillet also. They didn't ask for a driving record from what I read. Am I missing something? I mailed my dossier a week ago. I assume if they need more documents they will request.
I'm not sure if it was entirely necessary, but it was to fulfill the requirement "Attestation d’authenticité ET des droits à conduire à demander aux autorités ayant délivré le titre". The DMV issues a compliance summary saying I have no outstanding suspensions or cancellations, which seems to cover the "droits a conduire" part, but I also included the driving record as the "authenticity" part (it has my address and confirms the information on the license itself). The compliance summary might be enough for both of those, but I figured better safe than sorry?

Would you mind reporting back if they do contact you for more documents? It would be good to know! (Although I may have the dossier mailed in by then)
 

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I'm not sure if it was entirely necessary, but it was to fulfill the requirement "Attestation d’authenticité ET des droits à conduire à demander aux autorités ayant délivré le titre". The DMV issues a compliance summary saying I have no outstanding suspensions or cancellations, which seems to cover the "droits a conduire" part, but I also included the driving record as the "authenticity" part (it has my address and confirms the information on the license itself). The compliance summary might be enough for both of those, but I figured better safe than sorry?

Would you mind reporting back if they do contact you for more documents? It would be good to know! (Although I may have the dossier mailed in by then)
Sure thing! I didn't quite understand the "attestantion d'authenticate et des droits..." Crap. Well, they'll certainly want that then crap CRAP
 

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Beginner's question: When you exchange your US driver's license for a French one, do you actually surrender your US license? Can you be dually licensed? Of course, I'd like to be able to drive when we return to the US for visits.
 

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Beginner's question: When you exchange your US driver's license for a French one, do you actually surrender your US license? Can you be dually licensed? Of course, I'd like to be able to drive when we return to the US for visits.
When you do the exchange, you must surrender your US license. They actually return it to the issuing state - though what the state does with it is anyone's guess. For visits back to the US, you can drive on your French license. You can even rent a car on your French license (have done that often in the last 20+ years!).

I think even back in the States, they are making "residence" an official condition of obtaining or renewing a state driver's license.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Ok. The Sous-Prefecture de Rambouillet is very fast. I got my whole dossier sent back to me today and what they want additionally is as follows:
-An original attestation of authenticity of the DL
-An original attestation of VALIDITY of the DL
-Proof that I lived in the state where I got my license for at least 6 months
-Proof that I have lived in France for at least 6 months
-Proof of my establishment in France (I sent them quittance de lower, work contract and lease agreement but apparently they would like more).
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for that update! That is very helpful. I may not be getting this dossier in the mail Monday after all...

Good grief, I would have thought a work contract would be proof of establishment. Any thoughts on what you're going to use? I did notice it asked for a copy of the livret de famille for women, although not for men, which seems vaguely (and inexplicably) sexist.
 

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Thanks for that update! That is very helpful. I may not be getting this dossier in the mail Monday after all...

Good grief, I would have thought a work contract would be proof of establishment. Any thoughts on what you're going to use? I did notice it asked for a copy of the livret de famille for women, although not for men, which seems vaguely (and inexplicably) sexist.
In terms of establishment in France, perhaps something that indicates when you actually arrived (eg TDS), stamp in passport. Given the application is for a DL exchange, you would need to provide evidence that you are within the one-year timeframe for exchange and the 6-month residence prior to application.

I think you will find that the livret famille is normally held by the wife, but in any case, it's simply not applicable in this case.
 

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As far as the "establishment" goes, I'd strongly advise throwing in 3 months' worth of payslips if you have them. Showing that you have actually paid cotisations seems to be the quickest and easiest way to show "establishment" (or "integration" depending on just what you're applying for).
Cheers,
Bev
 
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