If you come to France as a foreigner, you may wonder about the possibility of driving in France with a foreign license. In principle, any foreigner can drive in France with a foreign license, if it is accompanied by an international license or a French translation, except for European citizens who can drive with a foreign license thanks to agreements between countries members.
How long you can drive in France with a foreign license will depend on the length of your stay.
Short stays (tourism and students)
In the case of short stays, for tourism, driving in France with a foreign license is possible during the lenght of the stay, if the condition mentioned above is met.
Regarding students, they can drive with their foreign license for the duration of their studies, if their license was obtained before coming to France and in the country where they had their permanent residence before coming. If your student visa changes to a work permit or permanent residence, the conditions for long stays I explain below will apply.
Long stays (workers and permanent residents)<h3>First Year
In the case of long stays, driving in France with a foreign license is allowed for a maximum of one year after the date of entry into France (OFII’s validation) or the delivery of the titre de séjour.
For example, a student completing 5 years of study in France may drive with a foreign license during the 5 years of studies. If after these 5 years, the student gets a job in France and changes his/her migratory status to employee, he/she will have one more year to drive with a foreign license, starting from the date of delivery of the new titre de séjour.
After the First Year
Once this one-year term has ended, there are two options:
- Exchange your foreign license for a French license: if your country has an agreement with France, you can exchange your license in the prefecture of your city for a French one. This process, as any administrative procedure in France takes time, and should be started a few months before the end of the one-year term. In this link you can find the list of countries that have a reciprocity agreement with France for license exchange.
- Obtain a French license: if your country does not have a valid agreement with France, you will have to obtain a French license from scratch. For this, you will have to pass a theoretical exam and a practical exam. This process can be expensive, but there are ways to reduce these costs as I explain in this post.
It is important to regularize your situation once the deadline expires, since the fines can reach €15,000 and you can expose yourself to legal problems in the event of an accident.
I hope this post has been useful if you were wondering about driving in France with a foreign license. As always, any question or contribution, please do not hesitate to leave it in the comments.