Publié par Eplaque
Posté le 22 août 2022 - Mis à jour le 27 janvier 2023 - 6 min de lecture ⏳
You’ve been traveling on the French roads, and you have noticed quite some different car plates and you wonder how the system works? Or maybe you are about to move to France, and you want to know how to get French plates? Eplaque, a leading company in French car plates online selling and car registration service in English, tells you everything you want to know about car plate numbers in France.
After registering a car in France, 2 things might happen regarding the plate:
Plate numbers are attributed sequentially. In France there is no possibility to choose a custom number, as in the UK, the States or other countries.
Only 2 plate sizes are legal for cars: 520×110 mm or 275×200 mm. For bikes and other light vehicles, 210×130 mm are the mandatory dimensions.
Standard French car plates have a white background and black printing. They can be bought online, in car shops, etc. All you have to do is to hand over the carte grise to request copies. Make sure the plate is approved, you should see “TPPR” on its right side, for example (see above).
You have probably noticed, when driving in France, that there is a regional logo and a department number on the right-hand side of the plate. Please note that it does not indicate from where the owner of the car is. This part of the license plate is purely cosmetic. You can choose any department number, irrespective of where you actually live. However you cannot replace this logo with something that is not official. It is also forbidden to cover that area with a sticker, even if it displays an official design. Last but not least, if you have a car you cannot choose different logos for the front and the rear plate, they must match.
The car plate described above is the most common in France. However you have probably noticed that other plate numbers are visible. Here is why. In 2009, the old vehicle registration plates system of France (called FNI) has been replaced with a new one, called SIV. Both systems still coexist. Cars that are not subject to a car registration procedure (change of address, lost title, change of ownership, etc.) can keep their old plate number. Those follow the structure 1111-AA-11, the last two numbers being the department code of the place of registration.
Some of those cars still have a yellow plate at the rear, and the white plate at the front without a regional logo. Until the authorities don’t depreciate the FNI system (it was planned for 2021, then abandoned), we will keep seeing those plate numbers in France.
Here are other special French plates you might see:
As said before, car plates in France are attached to a car during its whole lifetime. There is only one reason that can lead to a new plate number request: in case of car plate number theft. Since plates can be made a bit everywhere, it’s not very hard to make some even if you are not the legitimate owner. In theory, the manufacturer must request to see the car title. But in practice, too many don’t. This is a real issue in France, there are many cars using random car plates. How will you find out that someone is using your number? When you suddenly get a ticket that does not concern you.
If this happens more than once, you can request a new plate number. You’ll have to attach to your request a copy of the complaint you filed with the police, and a copy of the ticket you got. If someone steals your plates, you cannot request a new number, you must have received a ticket first.
In France, there is no online tool allowing to get information about a certain French license plate based solely on the number. At best, you can find out about the make and model on certain website selling parts.
However, if you have the car registration certificate (carte grise), you can get the full history of the car (MOT check included) since it has been registered in France. This is called the HistoVec report. You can request it online via the official HistoVec website. Mileage, number of owners, modifications, stolen car… Every operation registered is mentioned.
Right now, you can see 2 types of French numbers on plates:
The former is a FNI number, the system used until 2009. Those FNI French plates are still legal. If the owner does not move or lose his certificate, he can keep his old number. If any change is made, a new number is assigned.
On an FNI plate, the last 2 digits correspond to the department of registration. For example, the plate 12 ABCD 75 has been registered in Paris. 83 corresponds to the Var, etc.
SIV numbers, on the other hand, do not provide any information. Plates are handed sequentially, therefore you can just know more or less when the car was first registered. The regional logo and department number can be chosen freely, it therefore does not provide reliable information about the car origin.
|01 – Ain||32 – Gers||64 – Pyrénées-Atlantiques|
|02 – Aisne||33 – Gironde||65 – Hautes-Pyrénées|
|03 – Allier||34 – Hérault||66 – Pyrénées-Orientales|
|04 – Alpes-de-Haute-||35 – Ille-et-Vilaine||67 – Bas-Rhin|
|Provence||36 – Indre||68 – Haut-Rhin|
|05 – Hautes-Alpes||37 – Indre-et-Loire||69 – Rhône|
|06 – Alpes-Maritimes||38 – Isère||70 – Haute-Saône|
|07 – Ardèche||39 – Jura||71 – Saône-et-Loire|
|08 – Ardennes||40 – Landes||72 – Sarthe|
|09 – Ariège||41 – Loir-et-Cher||73 – Savoie|
|10 – Aube||42 – Loire||74 – Haute-Savoie|
|11 – Aude||43 – Haute-Loire||75 – Paris|
|12 – Aveyron||44 – Loire-Atlantique||76 – Seine-Maritime|
|13 – Bouches-du-Rhône||45 – Loiret||77 – Seine-et-Marne|
|14 – Calvados||46 – Lot||78 – Yvelines|
|15 – Cantal||47 – Lot-et-Garonne||79 – Deux-Sèvres|
|16 – Charente||48 – Lozère||80 – Somme|
|17 – Charente-Maritime||49 – Maine-et-Loire||81 – Tarn|
|18 – Cher||50 – Manche||82 – Tarn-et-Garonne|
|19 – Corrèze||51 – Marne||83 – Var|
|2A – Corse-du-Sud||52 – Haute-Marne||84 – Vaucluse|
|2B – Haute-Corse||53 – Mayenne||85 – Vendée|
|21 – Côte-d’Or||54 – Meurthe-et-Moselle||86 – Vienne|
|22 – Côtes-d’Armor||55 – Meuse||87 – Haute-Vienne|
|23 – Creuse||56 – Morbihan||88 – Vosges|
|24 – Dordogne||57 – Moselle||89 – Yonne|
|25 – Doubs||58 – Nièvre||90 – Territoire de Belfort|
|26 – Drôme||59 – Nord||91 – Essonne|
|27 – Eure||60 – Oise||92 – Hauts-de-Seine|
|28 – Eure-et-Loir||61 – Orne||93 – Seine-Saint-Denis|
|29 – Finistère||62 – Pas-de-Calais||94 – Val-de-Marne|
|30 – Gard||63 – Puy-de-Dôme||95 – Val-d’Oise|
|31 – Haute-Garonne|
Nothing, unless the plates ends with 2 digits. In that case, that 2 digit number is the registration department.
There are no region codes on French number plates. On old one, you can however see the registration department by checking out the 2 last digits.
In France, private companies make the plates, for example Eplaque. You can buy them online with us, or in certain shops. Just make sure they sell homologated products like we do!
No, people having their permanent address abroad can drive temporarily in France with their vehicle. Similarly, you don’t need a French driving license as a tourist.
They indicate where the owner registered his car (see region codes above).
If your main residence is not in France, you can drive with GB or UK plates in France.
Yes, if you are a tourist, for a short professional mission in France. If you come to live in France, you’ll have to switch to French plates within a month.
No, French personnalised car number plates do not exist. The actual SIV system was not designed to accommodate such thing, therefore it is highly unlikely that it will be the case in a near future.