Importing a car from one of the European Union and/or European Economic Area is not especially difficult as you can drive into France and follow the procedures below to register your car. From outside of Europe, however, it becomes more difficult and your best option is to contact an international shipping company who has experience importing cars into France, such as Schumacher Cargo, http://www.schumachercargo.com. They also provide a helpful introductory page on the specifics of shipping an automobile.

You can drive a car for 6 months in France without registering it, but only the owner or citizens of France are allowed to drive it during that time. Visitors may also drive provided they do not reside in France. After six months, it is illegal to drive it in France without completing the formal registration procedures.

Once your car is in France, you must first contact your local tax office. To find the closest tax office, visit http://www.calcul-impots.com/centres/paris,d75.html.

Remember that all documents that are not in French must have a accredited translation as well.

You will need to bring:

  • Your passport or carte de sejour
  • Proof of residence (signed lease, electric bill, etc)
  • Original car registration documents
  • Copy of the car’s bill of sale for the car, (with indication of VAT for new purchases)
  • Copy of the Certificat de Conformité Europeen (if within the EU)
  • Copy of the certificate of purchase and customs clearance certificate
  • Côntrole technique certificate if required

No import duties are charged if the car is being imported from an European Union and/or European Economic Area country. A ‘certificat de regularite fiscale’ will be issued which you will present to the Prefecture when registering your car. If the car is being imported from outside the EU/EEA, import duties (and VAT if necessary, approximately 30% of the total value) will be charged and you will be given a ‘certificat de dedouanement’ to present to the Prefecture.

Armed with the correct documents, you will proceed to the Prefecture or Sous-Prefecture of your commune with:

  • Customs Certificate (as above)
  • Manufacturers Certificate of Conformity (Attestation de Conformité); this may be obtained from the manufacturer or a French car dealer.
  • Proof of origin of the vehicle (sales certificate, etc)
  • Proof of VAT being paid in the country of origin
  • Registration request form (demande de certificat d’immatriculation); these are available from your mairie and/or prefecture or may be downloaded online (http://www.ants.interieur.gouv.fr/siv/Tous-les-cerfas.html).
  • The original registration documents
  • A test certificate (Rapport de contrôle technique). You will need to pass the contrôle technique at an authorized garage, which checks the car’s condition: identification, brakes, tyres, noise levels, emission levels, lights, steering and chassis. The test is due every two years thereafter. You may take the test at any authorized garage, however the larger garage chains (Speedy, Autosur, Norisko Auto, Dekra, among others) offer competitive pricing.
  • Your passport and carte de sejour.

For questions, visit the Official French Administration website, in French, at http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/particuliers/F12097.xhtml or

Bureau de Paris-Douane Tourisme
11, rue Leon Jouhaux
75010 Paris
01.40.40.60.35

It is also important to note that cars brought into France must conform to country-wide regulations and will be inspected to ensure that they do. If they do not, they will not be allowed on the road until changes have been made to the auto so that they comply. These changes can be excruciatingly expensive. If you must bring your car, consider bringing small spare parts with you, since not all parts for imported cars are available in France (as long as they meet the regulations).

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