Expat Forum For People Moving Overseas And Living Abroad banner

1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
380 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, my happy self has been in France since Monday and now I'm curious about getting a French DL. Thankfully my state is on the list of ones allowed to exchange. I'm just a bit confused on when I'm allowed to, supposed to, etc. It does state that I have to have a notarized French translation but after that it's a bit confusing and I've read other things as well...

Here is the link:
Driving in France - France in the United States / Embassy of France in Washington, D.C.

Do I do this at the prefecture or can I do it somewhere else...

Thanks!
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,415 Posts
This is probably your best (or at least easiest) source on exchanging your driving license: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/france/5/acs/paris-driving.pdf The first few pages give you the information on exchanging your license.

Generally it's only at the prefecture - but check their website. They often publish their hours for license exchange and forms you can download to make the process go a bit easier.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
Welcome back to France :)
You have plenty of time (a year) to exchange your licence, and can't do so until after Ofii has validated your visa. However, it is well worth going into the Prefecture to determine exactly what paperwork they require, as it does differ slightly from one Prefecture to the next and you will almost certainly need some kind of documentation from your home State. to confirm the status of your US DL, and that will probably also need to be translated.
When you eventually do the exchange, you will get a European licence in plastic card form with your photo, which is far more convenient and hard-wearing than the previous paper licence :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
380 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This is probably your best (or at least easiest) source on exchanging your driving license: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/france/5/acs/paris-driving.pdf The first few pages give you the information on exchanging your license.

Generally it's only at the prefecture - but check their website. They often publish their hours for license exchange and forms you can download to make the process go a bit easier.
Cheers,
Bev

hmmm, the driving record. I had a ticket for passing someone on Christmas eve (even though they were drunk and I was trying to get away from them :mad: ), a ticket for a "rolling" stop, and one from California where the camera took a picture and showed me "rolling" stopping again. If I remember correctly, these fall off of the driving record after a few years, right? I think the only one I have on there is the one from Cali...and even that might be going off soon...?
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
hmmm, the driving record. I had a ticket for passing someone on Christmas eve (even though they were drunk and I was trying to get away from them :mad: ), a ticket for a "rolling" stop, and one from California where the camera took a picture and showed me "rolling" stopping again. If I remember correctly, these fall off of the driving record after a few years, right? I think the only one I have on there is the one from Cali...and even that might be going off soon...?
I would expect they drop off in the US. The key will be that your licence is still valid (not that it is 100% clean at the time you apply for the exchange), though they may find they deduct points on your European licence when you get it. You should be able to check on the internet when points drop off in California.

BTW it would probably be a good idea to start the exchange procedure a couple of months before your 12 months in France is up.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,415 Posts
I don't think they really worry about "minor" violations. What they're really looking for is something that would have removed significant points from your French license. (Heck, they got me here for one point a few months back - "less than 20 km an hour above the limit" in a 30 kph zone. Clocked at doing 37 kph.

A "rolling" stop has only really recently become an offense here - and if it costs you a whole point, I'd be very surprised. A couple of minor things like that just prove you'll fit right in here with the other French drivers! <g>
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
You do, of course, realise that a "rolling" stop is not a complete stop which is required at a Stop sign (be it in the US, France or any other UN country)?
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,415 Posts
Actually, I have been thinking about "rolling stops" lately. Noticed a couple of folks recently doing rolling stops at some of the stop signs here and was thinking how much of a "no-no" those are back in the States. (Brought back memories of various discussions amongst the newly licensed back in my high school days!)

I actually heard fairly recently (perhaps something local to where I live) that they were going to try to crack down on rolling stops here - but that generally speaking, the law enforcement folks tend to turn a blind eye to such infractions of the law. (OK, full confession - we live not too far from the local Gendarmerie, and I do tend to notice all their minor transgressions when they're out and around....)
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
There are lots of moves here (and indeed in other countries) to crack down on all sorts of traffic infractions and also to reduce speed limits - people like to think it's about revenue raising, but in fact the road toll in France is horrendous. In Pau most drivers seem to think there is no need to stop when a pedestrian is on a pedestrian crossing (and very, very few will allow a pedestrian who has not entered the crossing to cross). In a single day I was almost bowled over 4 times when crossing on a green pedestrian light! There have been so many pedestrians bowled over here in the past year (and several died of their injuries) that it's truly frightening.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,415 Posts
It really was only a few years back that France enacted the rules about pedestrians in crosswalks. I remember seeing it in the news and being, well, shocked since I came here from Germany where you threw on the brakes if a pedestrian even made a gesture like they were turning toward the street in anticipation of crossing.

When I still had my German plates on arrival, I suspected some people of crossing abruptly in front of me just to see if I would stop for them like a good German driver. (I did and I still pretty much do.) They're getting better about it now, but you do have to play chicken a bit on the crosswalks here. Some folks appear not to have "gotten the memo."
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
From the US...lived in Canada, UK, & France
Joined
·
1,306 Posts
So, my happy self has been in France since Monday and now I'm curious about getting a French DL...Do I do this at the prefecture or can I do it somewhere else...
Congratulations on arriving and welcome to France!

You'll need to wait till you after your successful OFII visit before you can apply for a French Permis de Conduire. In our region (the Dordogne / Aquitaine), one exchanges one's US DL at the Prefecture. There are particular times of day and days of the week on which this can/can't be done, so check the hours at your Prefecture website.

You have a year from your arrival to exchange your driveres license, however, I would not wait. I recommend applying as soon as you can.

You present the Prefecture with (1) a certified translation of your US DL and likely one or more copies, (2) the appropriate completed form, (3) 2-3 photos that meet the requirements for a Permis de Conduire (again, on the Prefecture website), (4) perhaps one or two stemped self-addressed envelopes, and (5) your US drivers license. The Prefecture will keep all of this, including your US Drivers License. There might be more / less required in your Prefecture so check the website.

The Prefecture prepares and gives you a typed form (while you wait) with an official stamp with one of the photos you provided attached to it as your "temporary license" in France. The document is on a full sheet of paper, so it's a bit bulky.

The Prefecture writes a letter to your state's Registry / Dept. of Motor Vehicles (or whatever it's called in your state). They allow 6 months (if memory serves) for a response to arrive. If they do not receive a response within that periood, they may extend your application period. They do not, at least at our Prefecture, keep you informed in any way regarding progress.

If all goes well, you will receive a letter from the Prefecture informing you when you may come to pick up your French Permis de Conduire. We received our letter in 3-4 months (the Prefecture was correspondindg with New Hampshire in our case). You will have to bring in the temporary drivers license and give it to them. There is, surprisingly, no fee for the license exchange!

Best of luck!

Ray
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
I just want to tell you that I exchanged mine & it took the prefecture EIGHT months to issue the French one!! I don't know if it was my luck or a matter of incompetence, but this is what happened!
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top