How to import a classic car in France?

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Publié par Eplaque - 4 min de lecture ⏳

Le 24/01/2023 - Mis à jour le 23/08/2023

Car registration in France can be confusing, even for locals. If it’s true for standard procedure, it’s natural to be lost when trying to import a classic car in France. Are you in such a position?  Do not worry! Eplaque, your French car registration expert in English, explains everything you need to know about importing a vintage car in France, and registering it!

Classic car: French criteria

Before going into the details, let’s define clearly what a classic car is according to French law. It is:

  • A vehicle that is at least 30 years old (first registration)
  • A car that is not produced anymore
  • Finally, a car that is in its original state (no heavy modifications, such as a modern engine under the hood)

When a vehicle fulfills those 3 conditions, it is eligible to a classic car registration certificate.

Classic car registration: definition

In France, classic cars don’t get a special car registration certificate as such. They simply get an additional mention, “collection”, visible in the Z field of the “carte grise”. However, this word make a huge difference, since such vehicles enjoy many perks:

  • Exemption of rules regarding low emission zones (Paris, Lyons, Marseilles…)
  • MOT every 5 years, instead of 2 (even total exemptions for vehicles < 1960)
  • Such vehicles can use vintage plates (black background)
  • VAT and duties: 5.5% instead of 30%
  • No need for an individual approval (RTI) to be registered

Importing a classic car to France and registering it: how-to

Now that we have clarified those important topics, let’s go to the heart of the matter: how to import a classic car in France, then register it. The procedure depends on the country of origin from a fiscal point of view.

How to import a classic car in France from the EU?

When a vintage vehicle is imported from a country part of the EU, there is no need to go through French customs. You simply need a “quitus fiscal”. It is a special certificate provided by the tax authorities that ensures that the VAT is paid. In the context of a car imported from the EU, it is only due when a vehicle is considered as new (older than 6 months & mileage higher than 6,000 km). In principle, vintage cars don’t fall in such a category. We had, however, a reader who explained he had to pay VAT because his vintage car had less than 6,000 km… It’s the exception that confirms the rule.

Where to get your quitus fiscal? Contact your “service des impôts des entreprises” (SIE), you can find yours thanks to this resource. Application methods vary per office (online, in person, by mail).

Import a classic car to France from outside the UE (UK, US, etc.)?

If your classic car comes from a country not belonging to the European union, you’ll need a 846A certificate from the French customs. That means that you will have to pay VAT and duties. There is however good news: instead of paying 30%, you’ll pay 5,5% on the value of the vintage car. Moreover, if you import a classic car in France in the process of moving in to take permanent residency in the country, those will be completely waived. You must get this 846A certificate in the days following the arrival of the classic car in France.

How to get the “classic car” classification on the carte grise?

In order to get the “mention collection”, you must provide a certificate that proves that the car is eligible to that status. It is called an “attestation de datation et de caractéristiques”. You have 2 options to get yours:

  • From the manufacturer, if it still exists, and in France (mostly for local brands such as Citroen, Renault, Peugeot…)
  • From the FFVE (Fédération française des véhicules d’époque): it costs EUR 60

Applications are to be sent by mail. You’ll find the application form and the instructions on the FFVE website. They are working on an online request tool, but in January 2023 it was still not available for individuals (beta test ongoing). It should be before the end of the year.

Classic car import: what about the certificate of conformity?

There is no available European certificate of conformity for vintage cars, since that document appeared in the end of the nineties. The general rule is that such s vehicle should get an individual approval (called RTI) to be registered. However, most vintage cars don’t need it thanks to the attestation de datation et de caractéristiques.

How to register an imported classic car in France?

Once you have the quitus fiscal or 846A certificate, you are almost good to go to register your imported classic car in France. Here are the standard documents one should provide when registering a car in France:

  • Original car registration certificate or alternative official document that identifies the car
  • Driving licence
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of identity
  • Technical inspection/MOT (not older than 6 months)
  • Proof of insurance
  • Registration certificate form duly filled

A problem ? Eplaque will assist you!

We are an approved French car registration company since 2009. We provide a fast and efficient car registration service to locals and foreigners alike. We can handle your request in English to facilitate the issuance of your classic car registration in France. Please note, however, that we cannot help you with the steps regarding the quitus fiscal or the 846A.

Une question ?

Nous vous répondrons dans les meilleurs délais.

Les questions des utilisateurs

  • Patrick

    13 septembre 2023

    Hi, I've a classic circuit car ( 1965) which I want to bring to France, where I have a house. So it doesn't require imatriculation. How do I get importation acceptance.i assume I will pay 5.5% TVA.
    • Logo Eplaque


      14 septembre 2023

      I'm not quite sure how it will work since the vehicle is unregistered. I believe that customs rely on the log book to determine the age of the car. Therefore, I suggest you ask them the question directly.
  • Bishop

    9 septembre 2023

    I have been asked for 783 euros for my car registration English to French the car is an Audi A3 S Line TFSI Quattro Petrol 1798cc I am pretty surprised at the price? I live in the Charente and sent all the correct forms to register the car. Can you tell me if the price is correct
    • Logo Eplaque


      11 septembre 2023

      Is it an imported car not older than a couple of years? If yes this seems plausible, because an environmental tax is due for imported second hand cars.
  • Tim

    8 septembre 2023

    Hello, I have a 1978 BMW R80 motorbike originally from the UK. It was imported to Hong Kong in 2018. Now I would like to take it to Lyon. There is no modification to the engine, but there are some bigger cosmetic modifications, with the seat in particular. In your experience, would it qualify for import? Thank you!
    • Logo Eplaque


      11 septembre 2023

      For import there shouldn't be any problem, you'll need an individual approval to register it. It might not be eligible to the classic car status ("collection") due to the mods, which would be pity because if it was eligible, you wouldn't need individual approval at all, among other benefits attached to such status. The FFVE is the entity that provides with the certificate that grants that status ("attestation de datation et de caractéristiques").
  • Colin Bishop

    4 septembre 2023

    I have a 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo which I brought to France from UK in April, and stored since. I have the 846a customs form and letters from the manufacturer confirming its original. Do I need a control technic considering it’s age? Could you help
    • Logo Eplaque


      4 septembre 2023

      You will need a MOT (not older than 6 months) to register the car. In order to benefit from the vintage status (collection), we suggest that you get an "attestation de datation et de caractéristiques" from the FFVE. Not only this will give you a lot of benefits (no restrictions in LEZ, MOT every 5 years instead of 2...), but it will save you the costs and hassle of an individual approval (RTI). We can submit the car registration request for you once you have gathered all the paperwork, but beside providing guidance on what to do, we cannot actively assist you during that phase.
  • Laurence Hilton-Ash

    27 août 2023

    Hi Please help me register my recently imported classic car (US to France) . I respond to emails promptly. Regards
    • Logo Eplaque


      28 août 2023

      Click on the blue button!
  • Paul Niwano

    21 août 2023

    Hi there We are considering purchasing a UK registered 1960 Porsche 356 Roadster convertible. We are French fiscal residents and plan to keep the car in a garage in the south of France. Are you able to help us with this? And if so, how much do your services cost? We plan to do the occasional rally and 'Sunday afternoon drive' with the car but it will not be used on a 'day to day basis. The car is valued at between 100-120,000 Pounds Sterling. Kind regards. PAUL NIWANO.
    • Logo Eplaque


      22 août 2023

      We can help with the registration itself (fee is EUR 68.9, plus taxes due to the state), but we don't assist in gathering the paperwork, such as the 846A certificate or the FFVE certificate for getting the vintage status.
  • Michael Williams

    6 août 2023

    I'm planning to move to France and bring with me two old-timers. One is a Belgian-made 1965 2cv but with a larger and newer 2cv engine (435 vs 602cc). The engine and transmission are from the late 80's. Does this disqualify it for collection status? Is there another route to import?
    • Logo Eplaque


      7 août 2023

      Modified vehicles are in principle not eligible, unless the modification was made more than 30 years ago. You would have to contact the FFVE to check if your 2CV is eligible. You can, of course, import it as a standard car, however it will be more complicated as you will need an individual approval.

    5 août 2023

    • Logo Eplaque


      7 août 2023

      The price will depend on the fiscal power and the region. When you sell it, the new owner will have to pay again.
  • Ron Wales

    3 août 2023

    Hi, I imported a Dodge Ram 7 seater from the U.K. Is was built in Canada in 2000 as a van, converted to a 7 seater in California for immediate export to Japan. Then, after 20 years, was imported to U.K. I got the van homologation through a company in Caen. On pick up I was told that the vehicle had been passed with no issues. When I received the carte grise 2 weeks later I found my vehicle had been classed as a 4 seater. Since that I have not been able to get a response from the company in Caen. I contacted DREAL in Caen who said that the classification was correct and that I should speak to my agent. Since then DREAL has also failed to respond to my request for the reason for the classification. If I could find the reason I may be able to address the issue. The CT is also due shortly and I imagine this will cause an issue. Do you know what I can do at this point?
    • Logo Eplaque


      4 août 2023

      All I can assume is that the individual approval request has been made based on the original certificate of (non)conformity. Why did the DREAL gave the RTI with 7 seats? I really have no idea. Maybe the agent presented it in a 4 seater configuration. I know that it's not possible to change the characteristics of an imported vehicle, so maybe there was no other alternative. I guess you will have to make another individual approval to switch to 7 seats. To do that you should get in touch with a Dodge dealer in France. About the CT you might remove the seats just for the sake of the visit, to gain some time until you can sort it out.
  • Mervyn Edwards

    28 juillet 2023

    Hi , Can you please advise me of your charges for registing a classic car having bought it in USA , at the same time can you recommend a shipper . Many Thanks Mervyn Edwards
    • Logo Eplaque


      31 juillet 2023

      Our classic car/imported registration fee is EUR 68.9. On top you'll have to pay the registration taxes, the FFVE certificate, etc. We don't deal with import/export, therefore we don't have a shipper name to recommend.
  • Martin O'Grady

    15 juillet 2023

    Hi there, I a holiday home in France and am interested in buying and importing a classic car from the Netherlands, and keeping the car in France. In order to obtain a registration certificate in France, is it acceptable that my driving licence is a British licence? Many thanks, Martin
    • Logo Eplaque


      17 juillet 2023

  • Peter St Clair-Braudé

    4 juillet 2023

    Bonjour j'ai trouvé un Mustang GT 1966 en Angleterre, conduit à gauche ! Pas des modifications, que les restorations. Origin USA, North Carolina. Le prix demande £26000. S'il vous plaît pouvez vous m'indiquer les frais d'importation : tax, tva, carte grise etc? Et pouvez vous le faire pour moi, à quelle prix ? Merci beaucoup. Cordialement
    • Logo Eplaque


      5 juillet 2023

      Nous ne gérons que le volet immatriculation, nous ne pouvons pas nous charger des formalités d'homologation et d'importation. Pour l'importation d'un véhicule de collection vous bénéficierez des droits réduits de 5,5 % sur la valeur du véhicule. En obtenant une attestation de datation et de caractéristiques de la FFVE à +- 60 EUR, vous n'avez pas besoin de faire l'homologation. Il restera le prix de la carte grise, qui va dépendre de la puissance fiscale du véhicule et de votre région. Cela devrait être autour de 200 à 300 €.
    • Peter St Clair-Braudé

      5 juillet 2023

      Bonjour Merci pour votre réponse. Est-ce que le 5.5% calculé sur le prix que je paie ?
      • Logo Eplaque


        6 juillet 2023

        En principe oui, sauf si les douanes estiment que ce prix est sous-évalué. Dans ce cas le taux sera appliqué sur la valeur de marché.
  • David Ward

    23 juin 2023

    Bonjour Before I apply for the 846a and then come back to you could you answer 2 questions please. 1) Am I correct in saying that although I have owned my car for 30 years I still need to pay 5.5% vat on its current value ? 2) I have never had a sales invoice , will I need one? Regards
    • Logo Eplaque


      26 juin 2023

      1. If you moved recently to France, no, you won't have to pay a penny. People who relocate with cars belonging to them don't pay VAT or duties. 846A will be issued free of charge (you still need to get the document) 2. As far as your name is on the car registration certificate, no, no problem. If you had to pay duties/VAT, they will calculate it based on the market value of the car We remain at your service!
  • Geoff Turner

    18 mars 2023

    Hello, I have a 1987 BMW in Canada in storage, it rolls on 4 wheels but the transmission is out, the glass, and is basically mid restoration. I live in the UK and have a house in France. As I approach retirement, I would like to ultimately get the car to France, but maybe via the UK so I can do some work on it here, with the idea of eventually registering it in France. Is this as complicated as it seems to me? What would be the best approach?
    • Logo Eplaque


      20 mars 2023

      You would have to go through the customs to pay VAT and duties (reduced for such cars, you'll pay 5.5% total) once the car arrives in France. Then you cannot do much, because the car must work to get a registration. Once restoration is completed, request a "certificat de datation et de caractéristiques" to the FFVE. This document basically confirms that the car is eligible to the special classic car status ("collection"), and provides technical characteristics so that you don't need to go through the hassle of an individual approval procedure. Then you'll need a MOT and you are good to go to register the car.
  • Panagiotis Maroulidis

    6 mars 2023

    Hello, i am planning to buy and import to france a vintage car (70’s) from inside EU . When i will have the new plates for a vintage car can i choose the number ? (Even if it’s not officially possible can i give some money under the table ?) please let me know .
    • Logo Eplaque


      7 mars 2023

      No, there is no way you can choose your number in France. Since the new system introduced in 2009, numbers are assigned sequentially, and automatically.

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