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If you’re planning a Paris move, want to relocate to Rennes, or even if you are taking a French holiday then you might want to take your car with you. If you are moving to France or already live there but want to import a vehicle, then your best bet might be hiring a car transport service, if just going for a short trip it’s probably better to drive there.

Car Transport to France – Le guide

Here’s what you need to know about taking a car to France, whether you’re importing permanently or just on vacation.

Registration: Only residents need register their cars, so if you’re going to be in France for more than 183 days (that’s half a year to you and me) then your vehicle must be registered. This could also apply if you are employed in France, as you may then be classed as resident. The Préfecture (the administrative headquarters for the French districts) can handle your registration when you arrive, so make sure you know which one is closest.

Private vehicles can be used for up to 6 months in any year, so taking a driving vacation is OK, as long as you stay for less than the half year period.

Importing: Like in many EU constituent countries, car imports to France are duty free for used vehicles provided that: VAT has been paid in the country of purchase, the vehicle is at least half a year old and has been driven more than 6,000 kilometres before its entry to France.

New car imports: If you intend to bring a new vehicle into France (that doesn’t conform to the above criteria) then you will need to pay Taxe sur la Valeur Ajoutée (French VAT) unless you have proof of original VAT payment and foreign registration.

You will also need: To take the registration documents and original sale receipt to the Centre des Imports to receive tax clearance. Your vehicle will also need to pass an EU or French conformity test from the Direction Régionale de l’environnement.

Autos older than 4 years will need to pass a roadworthiness test (like an MOT) less than 6 months before its importation.

Applications for importation need to be tendered to the local Préfecture, the form you’re after is the Demande de certificat d'immatriculation d'un véhicule. You will need all of the obligatory documents, like ID, residency proof, car manufacturer details, customs forms.

Checking Your Car

Before you commit to taking your car abroad you should make some “pre-flight” checks to ensure it is fit for its French future.

Car wash: Cleaning up your car isn’t to impress the locals, if you’re hiring a car delivery to France transporter then you will want to know if anything happens to your motor while it’s being transported. Washing your car not only helps prevent scratches caused by dirt, it also makes it easier to notice any damage caused.

Photoshoot: Unless you’re particularly attached to it, you might wonder why you’re getting your car to model for you. Well, documenting its condition will also help you to notice whether it gets damaged during its trip to French soil.

Working order: If it’s going on the back of a trailer, your car doesn’t need to be running, but if it needs to be driven at any point, then you need to ensure your motor is roadworthy by getting an up to date MOT and checking for basic faults. 

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