International driving permit in France: do I need one?

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Publié par Eplaque - 7 min de lecture ⏳

Le 27/07/2022 - Mis à jour le 09/02/2023

You are a foreigner planning to drive temporarily of for an extended period of time in France? You wonder what driving license you need? More specifically, does France require an international driving permit? Whether you are from the UE, the States, Africa or the UK, you will find out soon about the rules applying to your case.

International driving permit (IDP): what is it?

The international driving license (permit is the correct term, or IDP) is a standardized document that translates your local driving license to a format that can be understood around the world. It is not a driving license as such. To be valid, the international driving permit must always be presented together with the original driving license.

The IDP fulfills 2 aims:

  • Certify that the holder is allowed to drive in his country
  • Translate the driving license, so that the local police can understand the local driving license

Do I need an international driving permit in France?

In short, if you drive in France as a tourist, you don’t need an IDP if:

  • Your driving license has been issued by a country part of the European union
  • If your driving license is written in French

If your driving license has been issued outside of the EU and is not in French, you must have:

  • International driving permit when driving in France OR
  • A certified translation of your license

If you move to France, you might be required to exchange your driving license. We will cover this topic later.

International driving permit in France since Brexit?

As a Brit, do I need an international driving permit in France? It depends. If you own an old green or pink driving license, you must bring an international driving permit in France (or a translation). If you own the recent model, it is not required. Please note that owners of a document issued by Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man, must also get an international driving permit.

Driving in France with a foreign driving license and IDP

Driving license requirements in France depend on several factors. More specifically:

  • If you are driving as a tourist or a resident
  • Your country of origin (EU or non-EU)

Driving in France with a European license

Driving in France with a foreign license issued by a member country of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA), is possible if:

  • You are at least 18 years old
  • Driving license is not expired
  • Your driving permit complies with its medical requirements (wearing of compulsory glasses, modified vehicle for people with disabilities, etc.)
  • Your driving license is not subject to a restriction, suspension or cancellation
  • you did not obtain your license while being in France and under a measure prohibiting you from applying for or obtaining a driving license, including a penalty of cancellation of the license or resulting from a cancellation

If you meet these conditions, you can drive in France with your European union license as long as it remains valid.

Otherwise, you do not have the right to drive in France with this European license. You must wait to meet any conditions (for example, wait for the required age or the end of a license suspension) or renew your license in the event of a cancellation.

You can also ask to exchange your European license for a French license. If your European license was obtained by exchange, the country of issue must practice reciprocal license exchange with France.

However, if it is not exchangeable for a French license, you can use it in France for one year from the acquisition of your normal residence in France. To continue driving in France beyond this period, you must pass the French driving license exam.

However, this is not an obligation unless:

  • You are applying for a new license category (extension)
  • You commit an offense in France resulting in a loss of points, restriction, suspension or cancellation of your licence

Driving with a foreign driving license issued in a country outside the EU

Driving in France with a foreign license issued in a country outside the EU, whether you are passing through to visit the country, your studies or wish to settle down, has different consequences in terms of requirements.

If you are in France for a short stay

You can drive with your valid foreign driving license during holiday, a short business trip, etc. Make sure that it is written in French or accompanied by an official translation or the international driving permit to facilitate police control.

If you are in France for your studies, and hold a student residence permit

You can drive with your valid foreign license during the whole course of your studies in France. It must have been issued by the country where you have your normal residence before entering France. It must also be written in French or accompanied by an official translation, or the international driving permit.

You must also:

  • Be of the minimum age to drive vehicles of the equivalent category of your license in France (e.g., 18 for a car)
  • Respect the medical requirements listed on your license (glasses, etc.)
  • If your nationality is different from the country of issue of the license (for example, Algerian with a Moroccan driving license), having obtained your license when your normal residence was located in this country
  • Not be the subject in the issuing country of a suspension, restriction or cancellation of your right to drive

At the end of your studies

If you obtain a residence permit in France, you must exchange your foreign driving license for a French permit. The country of issue of your license must practice the reciprocal exchange of driving licenses with France. Otherwise, you will only be able to use it in France for 1 year, from the acquisition of your normal residence in France.

Driving license validity if you move to France

If you are moving to France, and wish to drive with your valid foreign driving license, you must first ensure that it has been issued by the country in which you had normal residence before settling in. It must also be written in French, or accompanied by the international driving permit or a translation.

You must also:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Not have been sanctioned by the issuing country by a suspension, restriction or cancellation of your right to drive
  • Not have been the subject in France, before obtaining your foreign license, of a cancellation or invalidation of your right to drive
  • Comply with the medical requirements listed on your license (mandatory wearing of glasses, for example)

You must also, if you hold a foreign permit issued outside the EU or the EEA, have obtained it before the start date of validity of your first residence permit in France or the validation of your visa.

If you have a nationality different from the country where your license was issued (for example, Algerian with a Tunisian license), you must have obtained it while you had your normal residence in this country. You will only be able to use it in France for 1 year, from the acquisition of your normal residence in France.

How to get international drivers license in France?

As a foreigner living in France, you can apply for your international driver’s licence in France not only if you own a French driving licence. If you hold a foreign one, you can also request it (UK, Spain, Germany, Pakistan, Italy, USA, Qatar…).

If you are the holder of a French or foreign licence, how to get your international drivers licence online? You ought to request it online on the ANTS website (« Je demande un permis de conduire international« ).

Documents to apply for international driving licence in France

  • A proof of identity (national identity card, passport)
  • A proof of residence dated less than 6 months
  • A valid national driving license document in good condition (everything must be legible, the document must not be torn or taped, and the photo ID must be recognizable)
  • A recent passport photo (no less than 6 months) and in the legal format for official documents
  • A pre-stamped envelope for 50g, labeled with your name and address
  • If you do not hold French nationality but are a national of the European Union (Switzerland and Monaco included), proof of address in France on the date of the request
  • If you are neither French nor a citizen of the European Union, proof of legal residency

Steps to get international drivers license in France

  1. Connect or create an ANTS account
  2. Navigate to Nouvelle demande – Le permis de conduire – Je commence la demande
  3. Select « Je demande un permis de conduire international », fill the form
  4. Upload the required documents
  5. Review your request
  6. Confirm it
  7. Send by mail your ID picture, the prefilled and stamped enveloppe and the form generated after validation

Once step 6 is completed, you can follow up the status of your request from your ANTS account. Please note that it takes a lot of time to get one. After they receive the paperwork that you have to send by mail, getting your international driving permit in France will take 4-5 months.

FAQ international driving permit France

Do I need an international driving permit for France?

Yes (or a translation) if your driving license is not from the EU or not in French. Please note that residents might be forced to exchange their foreign license after a while.

How to get international drivers license in France?

In France, the ANTS is the public service in charge of producing IDPs. Applying for international driving permit in France is made strictly online.

What about the international driving permit in France and rental car?

The rules are defined above when driving on public roads. However, car rental companies might have specific requirements. Those can be related to the rental contract, and therefore have nothing to do with the obligation or not to have an IDP when driving in France.

International driving permit france after Brexit: what’s the situation?

You don’t need an IDP if you own the most recent version of the driving license. If you own a pink or green one, you need an international driving permit.

Can I register a car in France with a foreign license?

Yes. You will have to comply to the same requirements regarding the international driving permit in France when registering a car in France.

Une question ?

Nous vous répondrons dans les meilleurs délais.

Les questions des utilisateurs

  • Ken Harrison

    18 décembre 2023

    I am from the US and will be traveling to France next summer. Will be staying in both Strasbourg and Paris (on the outskirts actually,) I will be renting a car from Germany. I understand I have to have a clean air sticker. How do I get one and can I order it now or is it too early. Can you get one there or do I do it online. Trip will occur in June, or July/August. Is there anything else I might need? I always obtain an International drivers permit when we come to Europe. Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      19 décembre 2023

      Unfortunately, we don't see how you could get it on time. Because it would imply that you know a few weeks in advance the license plate nr of the car, its specs, etc. Best is to request to the German car rental company a car that has been preregistered. They might do it by default. You can drive with your US driving license and the international permit, yes that's all you need.
  • Nolan

    13 octobre 2023

    If I provide you with a translation of my current US drivers license (state of Nevada), will you be able to provide me with the carte grise et le certificat d’immatriculation and everything I will need to insure my car?
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      16 octobre 2023

      Provided that you have gathered all the paperwork required, yes. You'll need a valid proof of insurance or provide a written statement in which you swear that you will insure the car once registered if you are registering an imported car (in France you cannot get an insurance without a French registration nr).
  • Bernard Batchelor

    6 octobre 2023

    I have a white plastic driving licence issued in the UK. Do I need an international driving permit for France
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      6 octobre 2023

      If you own an old green or pink driving license, you must bring an international driving permit in France (or a translation). If you own the recent model, it is not required.
  • Yuliia Smakota

    22 août 2023

    Hello, Thank you for the useful information. I will appreciate your support to understand better how to proceed with my situation. I'm Ukrainian, I receive Carte de Sejour (Passport Talant). Could I apply for international drivers license to have the possibility to drive in France after 1 year of being here? I have got my driver licence in Ukraine in 2008 and have 15 years driving experience. Or I had to proceed with passing theoretical and practical examination? If so, is it possible to do in English for theoretical? Is it possible not to take practical lessons? Thank you for your kind support.
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      23 août 2023

      An international driving permit is merely an international translation of your local driving license. There is no exam, you simply have to request it while providing a copy of your license. However, you cannot request it in France since Ukraine is not part of the UE. You should introduce your request in Ukraine, eventually via the ambassy.
  • Raymond Hegarty

    23 juin 2023

    Hello I live in Australia most of the year but visit France during the European summer and stay with a relative in Biarritz I am thinking of buying a vintage Vespa a 1982 model and registering it on Vintage Registration Can you assist with this? If yes, what would you charge for your services and what is the likely cost of annual vintage registration? The Vespa is original and has no modifications Regards Raymond Hegarty
    • Logo Eplaque

      Eplaque

      23 juin 2023

      Yes, we can assist you. Our fee is EUR 30 on top of modest taxes due for a Vespa (depending on power). There are no annual costs related to registration. If you need an "attestation de datation et de caractéristiques" for the vintage registration, we, however, cannot assist with that process, it has to be requested to the FFVE (ffve.org).

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