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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks I have an inquiry.
We purchased a mobil home in France for summer vacations. I hold a French card d'identite and passport and am a US citizen as well. We have a residence and bank in France and want to purchase a car to use when we are there in the summer. Anyone know if it's possible to buy and insure a car in France with a US DL?

Thanks
Dan
 

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Whilst I am no expert on this provided you have a residential address and the right to stay in France I can't see a problem....
 

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Like the Grocer, I am no expert either, but if you have any other form of insurance (on your home, civic responsibility or whatever else), I would talk to the company or agency you have that insurance. Or, try your bank in France. You have have to jump a couple more hoops, or pay a bit more, but it should be do-able.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I just bought a car and the insurance agency told me I needed an international driver's license. I don't have one (yet) but my husband was still in the states and he ran over to AAA, got his (30 minutes), emailed it me, and I forwarded it to my agency. A slight hassle, but compared to most things I've been dealing with on setting up a vacation home here, pretty easy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi Diane,
That's good news so far. Thank you for the response!
Have you registered the car with the prefect yet? I guess I am mostly concerned about the ability to register a car with the prefect without a French drivers license.
Interesting to find others doing the same as us with a vacation place in France.
Regards,
Dan
 

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Just curious... does the international driver's license exempt you from the year allowed on your American license? I may be wrong, but my understanding is that France allows you a year on your US state's DL. And, some states have a reciprocal agreement that you can swap for a French DL.

I ran into this when I lived in the UK. My auto insurance ran out after a year on my US license as it would be no longer valid. Had to get British license to legally drive and to be insured afterwards. Is this the same for France?
 

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An IDP, such as those issued by AAA, are required of visitors who are not extending their stays beyond 90 days. If you plan on staying beyond 90 days, you will have up to one year to obtain a French drivers license.

If you hold a US drivers license issued in one of the states currently having reciprocity with France, see the above link, you may exchange your US license for a French license if the request is made within your first year of residency in France. The procedure is explained in the link.
 

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Just curious... does the international driver's license exempt you from the year allowed on your American license? I may be wrong, but my understanding is that France allows you a year on your US state's DL. And, some states have a reciprocal agreement that you can swap for a French DL.

I ran into this when I lived in the UK. My auto insurance ran out after a year on my US license as it would be no longer valid. Had to get British license to legally drive and to be insured afterwards. Is this the same for France?
The "international driver's license" is nothing more than a standardized translation of your home country license. IIRC, it is only valid when presented with your home country license - and no, it does not exempt you from the one-year limit on driving on your US (or other foreign) license in France. Its main purpose is to provide quick information regarding the category of your license (i.e. B1 or whatever) since the US doesn't use the international standard classification system.

And, as in Diane's case, an international driving license is far, far cheaper to obtain than a certified translation of a foreign driving license. (Also makes life easier for the prefecture because they're familiar with the format of the international license.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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since the US doesn't use the international standard classification system.
Actually there are a number of states that do use the international standard license format. Licenses issued from these states are line item identical to those issued in France. The states having driver´s license reciprocity with France are those using the international format.
 

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Actually there are a number of states that do use the international standard license format. Licenses issued from these states are line item identical to those issued in France. The states having driver´s license reciprocity with France are those using the international format.
By "format" I mean the license category classification system. I just checked one state I'm familiar with and apparently they call a regular passenger car license a "class D" license. The international system calls this a B license.

Though I have been gone a while and things do have a tendency to change.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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The "international driver's license" is nothing more than a standardized translation of your home country license. IIRC, it is only valid when presented with your home country license - and no, it does not exempt you from the one-year limit on driving on your US (or other foreign) license in France. Its main purpose is to provide quick information regarding the category of your license (i.e. B1 or whatever) since the US doesn't use the international standard classification system.

And, as in Diane's case, an international driving license is far, far cheaper to obtain than a certified translation of a foreign driving license. (Also makes life easier for the prefecture because they're familiar with the format of the international license.)
Cheers,
Bev
Also, I read that since I am not a resident (I have a short-term visa renewable every year, no OFII required), I do not need the French driver's license. At least I sure hope this is true.

Also, register with the prefecture? I bought the car used at a garage and nobody mentioned this...do I do that with the town I live in? I bought the car in a different town.
 

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The prefecture handles vehicle registration (like the DMV does in the States). You can arrange the registration at any prefecture - doesn't have to be the one where you live or where you bought the car. I trust the garage did give you the registration certificate, properly filled out to transfer the title - that's the main thing you need. https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1050 for the official procedure per Service Public. Or perhaps the garage did the change of registration for you? (They very often do that, since they have multiple changes of registration to do if they sell used cars.)

Now, when you say you have a short-term renewable visa, do you mean a 90 day Schengen visa, or are you referring to a long-stay "visitor" visa (which is also renewable every year)? On the 90 day visa, you won't need a French license. For a long-stay visa (anything over 90 days) you may want to ask at the prefecture.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Ok, Bev, thank you. I think the garage did it, but I'll find out.

I'm here on a short-stay long-term (1 year) visa. Confusing, eh? But that's what the consulate in LA recommended. I have to stay over 90 days my first visit, and then can come and go at will. Renews every year. Or at least that's what they told me. ;-)
 
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