Driving in France with a foreign license

Date of update

Coming to France and wondering whether you will be able to drive with your current license?

Driving in France with a license issued by a foreign country is permitted in the following cases:

  • If you hold a driving license issued by a member state of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland: these licenses are valid in France indefinitely.
  • If your driving license was issued by another country, but only during the first year of your stay. Such licenses are valid in France for a maximum of one year:
    • As of the start date of your first French residence permit.
    • If you have a VLS-TS visa, as of the date it is approved by the French Immigration and Citizenship Office (OFII) with a sticker and stamp on your passport.
  • If the length of your stay exceeds one year, you will need to exchange your non-European driving license, subject to eligibility. It is recommended that you enquire about this procedure before your arrive in France. To be able to exchange your original driving license for a French license, the issuing country needs to have signed an exchange agreement with France. For more information, read our “Exchanging a non-European driving license” fact sheet.

Regardless of the country in which their driver’s license was issued, holders of a “Student” residence permit will continue to be covered by their foreign license for the entire validity period of their “Student” residence permit.

 

Conditions

 

For a driver’s license to be recognized in France, the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  • The driver’s license must be currently valid.
  • It must be used in accordance with the medical instructions displayed on the license (e.g. mandatory use of spectacles).
  • The license holder must be above the legal driving age (at least 18 years of age for a “B” license).
  • The license must still be valid in the country of issuance (i.e. not suspended, not revoked, no usage restrictions).

In addition, for non-European nationals, the license will need to have been:

  • Issued in the holder’s usual country of residence prior to their arrival in France.
  • Drafted in French or accompanied by an official translation.

Obtained before the start date of their first French residence permit or before their visa was approved by the French Immigration and Citizenship Office (OFII).

Helpful tip : Licenses issued in countries located outside the European Economic Area, and which do not appear on the list of countries that have signed a bilateral agreement with France, will no longer be valid in France after a period of one year. Holders of such licenses will need to take the French driving test.

Individuals who do not speak French can take the driving theory test (the code) with the help of a translator.