in France is perfectly easy, and does not need any specific
preparation. Nevertheless, there are a number of things that need to be
seen to before starting your journey - particularly if you are coming
from the United Kingdom or the Irish Republic, or another country where
cars drive on the left.
Here is a quick checklist of the points to see to before you leave. For
details see below.
- ► Driving
When driving in France, you will
recognised full driving
An international licence
is not required for short term visitors (up to 90 days) from countries
of the EU, EEA, USA, Canada; however it is either recommended or else
required for visitors from other countries. For specific details, check
with the local French embassy in your country of origin.
minimum age for driving in France is 18, so drivers under the age of 18
cannot drive in France, even if they have a full driving licence issued
in their own country.
visiting France must have a
valid personal ID card. For visitors from countries like the UK which
do not issue ID cards, a valid passport is
required. Travellers not holding a European Union or North American
passport may need to obrain a tourist visa. For
further details consult this official
French foreign ministry website in English.
stays, standard EU driving licences remain valid, but
driver's licenses from non-EU countries will probably need to obtain a
French licence. Again, check with the French embassy in your country
before starting off on your trip.
- ► Proof of
This is the car's registration
certificate (for cars registered in the UK, the V5C
certificate). If stopped by the police, you may well be asked for the
"Carte grise" (grey card) : it is the vehicle's registration
certificate that you are being asked to show.
- ► Proof of
The standard international and European insurance document
"green card", though a standard insurance document from any EU country
provides basic insurance for your vehicle (third party cover)
throughout the Union, whether or not a green card is provided. As
regards the extent of you vehicle insurance cover, you should check
with your insurance company before setting off for France or beyond.
Many insurance policies that are comprehensive policies in the UK only
provide third party cover when the vehicle is taken abroad.
- Many UK motorists
like to take out extra holiday insurance, such as that available from
to cover the costs of emergency repairs and/or repatriation of the
vehicle and passengers in the event of a major mishap. Click to visit
- ► Headlamp
Depending on your car, you will either need deflector patches
or have to adjust the beam manually. In the UK, headlamps dip to the
left, which is a big problem when driving at night on the continent, as
that means they dip into the path of oncoming traffic. Beam deflectors
(often just a bit of opaque tape to stick on a part of the headlamp)
- ► Spare set of bulbs.
Though it is highly unlikely that you will be stopped and
asked to show your spare set of bulbs, and though it is not practical
to carry spare sealed-beam units that require a garage visit for
fitting, French rules of the road require cars to carry a
spare set of bulbs. Many French drivers do not carry them.....
or alcohol level test. In theory, it has been obligatory to carry one
these since 1st March 2013 - but there is no penalty for not having one.
- ► Hazard
A red reflective triangle that can be placed at a suitable
distance behind a car if it is immobilised on the highway or hard
- ► Spare
set of car keys.
Not obligatory, but highly recommended. After all, it would
be unimaginable hassle to lose your keys, then have no way of getting
into your car... or once in it, of starting it.
- ► High viz
All cars are required by law to carry a high-visibility
waistcoat (fluorescent yellow or orange). This must be carried IN the
car, not in the boot (not in the trunk), so that it can be slipped on
immediately by any driver who needs to get out of an immobilised
vehicle, notably on a motorway or main road.
- ► Vehicle
Don't set out on a long journey to France or beyond, to Italy
or Spain or wherever, without having first had your car serviced or
checked. In particular, check tyre pressure and condition.
- ► Maps or Satnav
One or the other of these is always advisable, even if you
are planning a simple journey on motorways or main roads. Detailed
local maps can help you in the event of the unforeseen. They can also
help drivers of larger vehicles - coaches, HGVs, caravans or motorhomes
- avoid unsuitable roads before they actually reach them.
are quite good at forgetting to mention bits of vital information, such
as low bridges or narrow bridges on minor roads.
► Much more key information
on driving in France
Visit the main About-France.com Driving
in France page, for
much more useful information on taking a car to France, including
2003 - 2019