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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!

Before moving to France permanently with my French husband, I'm trying to understand the license exchange requirements.

If I move (or "move") to a state that has a reciprocal agreement with France, does my license in the new state have to have been issued a certain amount of time before moving to France? Or as long as it was issued before I move to France, is it ok? Also, will I be asked to prove my residency in that state for any period of time? 6 months? Are bank statements ok (since they're accepted as valid proof of address in order to get the license in the first place.)?

The license exchange seems to take place months after coming to France, so asking for proof of residence in a US state so long after the fact (and when in possession of the license, which is itself supposedly a proof of residence) seems arbitrary.

Has any American been asked for this proof of residence in a US state when exchanging a license?? It would be a hassle to go through the effort only to be rebuffed at the last moment!

Thanks!
K
 

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From what I have heard of recent license exchanges, what they are interested in is not so much your "state of residence" but how long you have held the license you are exchanging before you moved to France (or possibly how long you have held a license in that state before you exchange it).

It's pretty much up to you to meet the state's residence requirements when you go to get a new license in a different state.

But the time line for exchange is usually that you must make the exchange within your first year in France (officially, they say before the expiration of your first titre de séjour - which for you will be the titre de séjour you get in your passport at your OFII visit).

This site lists all the gory details: Démarches administratives But it's up to the prefecture to request "proof" that you lived for at least 6 months in the place where you got your driving license that you're exchanging. And, that six months must have included the date when you got that license. Normally, they would just look to see that the address on your license is the same as the address on your US passport - however, US passports don't carry a personal address, so you may be required to show some other sort of proof.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your reply. The part in this that is tripping me (and my husband) up is:

"Le permis a été obtenu pendant un séjour d’au moins 6 mois à titre permanent dans le pays qui l’a délivré. Vous devrez, par conséquent, apporter la preuve de cette résidence en demandant, avant votre départ, auprès du consulat de votre lieu de résidence l’établissement d’un certificat de changement de résidence ou d’une attestation de résidence."

What is an attestation of residence? The consulate of my place of residence? What does this mean- that I must go to the French consulate before leaving the US and make some sort of declaration? Isn't my license itself technically my proof of residence, since as you said, I would have already had to have satisfied the state's residency requirement to get it in the first place?

It's possible that the license I get could be a year old before I ask for the French spouse visa. Maybe that looks less suspicious than asking for a license closer to the time I move to France.

It's also quite confusing as the rules seem to apply more to a person who maybe isn't a citizen and to being in a particular country, but as this is about being an American in a new state, I don't really know what they actually want from me.

Thanks for your help!!
K
 

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No, the section you're referring to is for someone who got their license in a country other than their country of nationality. (Like, me for instance. I got my EU driving license in Germany - and now would have to provide something from the German consulate in France attesting to my residence in Germany.)

The US is something of an exception because the driving licenses are issued by state rather than by a national government and only some of the states offer reciprocity with France. But what ultimately matters is what the prefecture in your departement is going to ask you for when you go to exchange your license. Well, and in your case, what the state you're planning on getting your exchangeable license in requires in terms of "residence" to give you a license.

Any place you see the French asking you for documents from "the consulate" or "the embassy" you can pretty much assume they are talking about the US consulate/embassy in France - not the French consulate in the US. The visa is about the only exception to this.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I got my Permis de conduire from a reciprocal state. They only required a valid (not expired) license. They then contact the state to verify there are no problems with the license and once that was received I got my Permis. The license must be gotten less than one year after your arrival in France. I still have a valid license for the US since I still have a home there and go back from time to time. There was no proof of residency demanded that I remember. They only took my license while the request was being processed and then they gave it back with my French license. So you in fact get to keep your US driver's license also. At least I did in my case.
 

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I don't come from a state that has the reciprocal license exchange, but after all the hassle I read online, it was actually one of the easiest administrative steps, I found. Only thing that was a hassle was the fact that I renewed my GA driver's license in 2012, and as such, they originally put on my form that I'd only had my license for a year, which meant that I would have been considered a "young driver" and had higher insurance premiums, fewer points, etc. So I had to go back and get proof that I've had my license for at least 3+ years. I couldn't really get proof that I've had my license since 1998, so I just settled by giving them the past 7 years' of my driving record in the US, and they equated that to my having my driver's license since 2006. Fine with me.

The other small glitch is that France is in the midst of changing over their licenses to fit with the European standards. So while I got the old traditional French license, apparently I am going to have to eventually exchange it for the new license, which will then be required to renew every ten years. But still, it was a lot less hassle than I thought it was going to be!
 
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