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How to Buy and Register a Used Car

The buyer of a used car in France has certain obligations; make sure you know what to do...

Before agreeing to buy a used car:

  • Make sure that the series number stamped on the car matches that in the registration documents of the seller
  • Make sure that the seller is the legally registered owner of the car by checking on the certificat d'immatriculation and/or make sure that the seller provides a certificat de situation, which includes a certificate of non-security (valid for one month) and a certificate of non-opposition (valid for two months) proving that the car may be sold

When paying for and taking possession of the of the used car, ensure the seller provides all items listed on How to Sell a Used Car.

Documents required to register a vehicle

  1. Proof of identity: passport, carte de séjour or French driving licence
  2. Proof of residence: a recent utility bill (EDF or France Télécom) or rental receipt, house deeds or home insurance documents
  3. A completed certificat d'immatriculation, registration document is available from the Préfecture, Sous-Préfecture, Mairie or police
    • Or download the certificat d'immatriculation Form Cerfa 13750*03: Click here (PDF)
  4. A certificat de situation administrative provided by the seller (see above)
  5. A certificat de cession (certificate of transfer and document of sale) from the previous owner
  6. The registration document of the previous owner, marked in indelible ink "Vendu le..." or "Cede le..." with the date of the sale and signature of previous owner and dealers stamp if appropriate
  7. If the car is more than four years old, a Contrôle technique, CT certificate, no older than six months, or two months if a check up was required, which is the proof of roadworthiness provided by the seller
  8. Cheque, cash or credit card to pay the registration fee (note that not all Préfectures and Sous-Préfectures accept all forms of payment - some may not have credit card facilities, while others will not accept cheques).

Registering a used car by Internet or post

With the a "new-style" certificat d'immatriculation with a detachable coupon, issued since 2003 cars can be registered online or by post.

Registering online:

Registration can be done online, through companies approved by Ministère de l'Intérieur and Trésor Public. There is normally a fee to this.

Registering by post:

Send copies of all the paperwork stipulated above to the Préfecture or Sous-Préfecture. The process takes about two weeks:

  • Include the upper part of the certificat d'immatriculation marked as sold with the date and signature of the seller. Keeping the detachable section in the car while waiting for the issue of the new one
  • A self-addressed, stamped letter
  • A cheque or postal order made out to the Trésor Public

Price of vehicle registration

The price of registration is determined annually at a regional level (it varies across the country), and depends on a vehicle's horse power (cheval vapeur). Consult the Préfecture or Sous-Préfecture of the region for information.

  • For guidelines on the charges due for re-registration: Click here
Registering Collector's Vehicles

A vehicle (car, motorbike or truck) over 30 years of age can be registered in France as a collector's vehicle véhicule de collection. The vehicle does not need to be approved and standardised by the DRIRE, and the safety and emissions tested in a Contrôle technique (CT) are adapted to the age of the vehicle (and thus more lenient). The vehicle roadworthiness test needs to be taken every five years. Until a change of regulation in October 2009, a vehicle registered as véhicule de collection was restricted to travelling only within the département of registration unless prior permission had been granted by the Préfecture. This no longer applies and collector's vehicles may travel freely across departmental borders.

The Fédération Française des Véhicules d'Epoque (French Federation of Classic Vehicles) is a national organisation which provides information and forms needed to register a classic in France. Help can be requested by sending copies of the required documents so that a file can be prepared for submission to the local Préfecture or Sous-Prefecture.

Note: When registering a foreign imported vehicle in France, a customs certificate 846-A will be required, along with court approved translations of all existing registration documentation. Again, the FFVE is able to assist.

Registering a Moped

Prior to 1 July 2004, it was not necessary to register a 50cc moped (cyclomoteur). However, as of the 1 July 2004, all new scooters (those which have never been on the road) must have a carte grise. It will be up to the vendor (who should have signed a convention with the State) to register a new scooter in the buyer's name. Provide the dealer with the required information and identity card/passport or, in the case of a business purchase, a Kbis or Lbis registration certificate.

To register an older bike and get a carte grise, either write to the address below or go to a recognised vendor who has signed the convention with the State and complete the necessary forms.

Provide the paperwork mentioned below:

  • proof of identity: passport, carte de séjour or French driving licence
  • proof of residence: a recent utility bill (EDF or France Télécom) or rental receipt, house deeds or home insurance documents
  • the form demande d'immatriculation completed and signed. (Forms are available from auto dealers, the Préfecture or can be downloaded from the government website Form Cerfa 13750*03 PDF)
  • a certificate of conformité communautaire or the insurance document which should include the technical/motor identification details.
  • an invoice, or, if just bought, Form Cerfa 13754*02 (PDF)

If a new moped is brought to France from abroad it must registered immediately at the following address:

  • Ministère de l'Interieur
    At
    : Service central d'immatriculation des cyclomoteurs, 26 avenue Charles de Gaulle, BP 80090, 95165 Montmorency Cedex

Provide the following paperwork:

  • proof of identity: passport, carte de séjour or French driving licence
  • proof of residence: a recent utility bill (EDF or France Télécom) or rental receipt, house deeds or home insurance documents
  • proof of sale
  • the form demande d'immatriculation completed and signed. (Forms are available from auto dealers, the Préfecture or can be downloaded from the government website Form Cerfa 13750*03 PDF)
  • a certificate of conformité communautaire with all details on it, or a certificate with all technical information provided by the constructor
  • the original invoice
  • the certificate fiscal from the tax department if bought in the EU or a customs certificate No: 846A.

If a second-hand moped is brought to France, follow the same procedures as above, including any registration documents that may be associated with the scooter.

  • For more information from Service Public: Click here (in French)

Note: Where the owner of the moped is a minor, the parents or legal guardian must give written permission, a mandat, to the minor carrying out the certificat d'immatriculation application.

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