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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Since there have been quite a few threads and drama over this issue, I thought I'd share my experience.

Like others here, I spent months visiting the Prefecture's rendez-vous scheduling site nearly every day, and only ever seeing a three-month calendar with every day crossed out.

Finally I emailed the Prefecture to explain that my one-year deadline was approaching and it was impossible for me to make an appointment through the proper channel. I received a reply a day or two later informing me that I could visit the Administration office dealing with driver's licences 2 days prior to the deadline. In Paris, that office is located up near Porte de Clignancourt.

Since that particular day would be busy for me, I tried my luck going a few days earlier with my full dossier. No such luck - my file wasn't urgent enough. When they say 2 days prior, they mean exactly 2 days prior.

So I went back on the designated day. I armed myself with the documents outlined here : https://www.prefecturedepolice.inte...iers-du-vehicule/Permis-de-conduire#ancre-1-3 (scroll down to "Les pieces à fournir"). In addition, I printed off the emailed response from the Prefecture.

Once inside the building (it opens at 8:30), it didn't take too long to be called to a guichet. The line outside the building seems long but most were visiting the foreign students' bureau in the same building. The permis de conduire section wasn't too crowded. The lady at the guichet was quite efficient and generally pleasant; she was younger so I suppose more laidback. You relinquish your foreign licence at this point and are given a receipt. The wait time for the licence to be created is about 6-8 weeks. There is no appointment to pick it up, nor do you receive notification once ready. Just return to the bureau after 6 weeks with your receipt document and inquire if it's available. If not, you'll need try back another day.

Some pointers:

1) If, like me, you are unable to book an appointment online, send the Prefecture a very polite email. Explain your predicament and ask, almost plaintively, if they can please help. The French seem to like knowing they're helping someone get out of a bind. As always, end the email with a variation of the polite French send-off. You can find a list here : Formules de politesse - exemples et conseils

2) The Prefecture document list requests 2 photos but in fact you need 3. You should always bring extra photos with you regardless for any Admin procedure requiring them, just in case.

3) Take your dossier with you to the bureau a week or two ahead of time and ask one of the people at the reception desk to quickly verify that all your documents are good and will be accepted on the day of your appointment (or on the 2-day prior date). This way if anything is amiss, you'll have time to remedy it without panicking.

4) Note that you will not have a licence during the 6-8 week processing period. I'm not sure if you can acquire a special interim document that will allow you to keep driving for that period. I didn't ask as I don't currently have a car but if it's essential for you, be sure to inquire on that or otherwise prepare an alternative mode of transport until you receive your French permis.

Just another administratively hurdle, that's all. I have to say, having gone through so many of these, eventually you get the hang of it and understand how best to interact with the civil service.
 

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Since there have been quite a few threads and drama over this issue, I thought I'd share my experience.

Like others here, I spent months visiting the Prefecture's rendez-vous scheduling site nearly every day, and only ever seeing a three-month calendar with every day crossed out.

Finally I emailed the Prefecture to explain that my one-year deadline was approaching and it was impossible for me to make an appointment through the proper channel. I received a reply a day or two later informing me that I could visit the Administration office dealing with driver's licences 2 days prior to the deadline. In Paris, that office is located up near Porte de Clignancourt.

Since that particular day would be busy for me, I tried my luck going a few days earlier with my full dossier. No such luck - my file wasn't urgent enough. When they say 2 days prior, they mean exactly 2 days prior.

So I went back on the designated day. I armed myself with the documents outlined here : https://www.prefecturedepolice.inte...iers-du-vehicule/Permis-de-conduire#ancre-1-3 (scroll down to "Les pieces à fournir"). In addition, I printed off the emailed response from the Prefecture.

Once inside the building (it opens at 8:30), it didn't take too long to be called to a guichet. The line outside the building seems long but most were visiting the foreign students' bureau in the same building. The permis de conduire section wasn't too crowded. The lady at the guichet was quite efficient and generally pleasant; she was younger so I suppose more laidback. You relinquish your foreign licence at this point and are given a receipt. The wait time for the licence to be created is about 6-8 weeks. There is no appointment to pick it up, nor do you receive notification once ready. Just return to the bureau after 6 weeks with your receipt document and inquire if it's available. If not, you'll need try back another day.

Some pointers:

1) If, like me, you are unable to book an appointment online, send the Prefecture a very polite email. Explain your predicament and ask, almost plaintively, if they can please help. The French seem to like knowing they're helping someone get out of a bind. As always, end the email with a variation of the polite French send-off. You can find a list here : Formules de politesse - exemples et conseils

2) The Prefecture document list requests 2 photos but in fact you need 3. You should always bring extra photos with you regardless for any Admin procedure requiring them, just in case.

3) Take your dossier with you to the bureau a week or two ahead of time and ask one of the people at the reception desk to quickly verify that all your documents are good and will be accepted on the day of your appointment (or on the 2-day prior date). This way if anything is amiss, you'll have time to remedy it without panicking.

4) Note that you will not have a licence during the 6-8 week processing period. I'm not sure if you can acquire a special interim document that will allow you to keep driving for that period. I didn't ask as I don't currently have a car but if it's essential for you, be sure to inquire on that or otherwise prepare an alternative mode of transport until you receive your French permis.

Just another administratively hurdle, that's all. I have to say, having gone through so many of these, eventually you get the hang of it and understand how best to interact with the civil service.
6-8 weeks? Here in 29 I had a 2 week wait, I'm guessing the prefecture here is not as busy as in Paris. Just want to add that even though you'd be without a license for a period of time, you'd still be able to drive provided that you show a receipt that'd be given to you from the prefecture showing that you've done the exchange and that you're waiting for it.
 
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