Last Updated: 21st January 2022
This is the most complete and up-to-date checklist of the legal requirements for driving in France from January 2022 onwards.
It also covers the kit that you need to take with you by law when driving in France and also other regulations that you need to adhere to.
Failure to comply with these can not only put your safety at risk, but there can also be hefty on the spot fines, points on your licence and in certain circumstances the seizure of your vehicle.
So, please take heed of the points raised and help to make your journey into France a happier and safer one!
Please note that due to their temporary and fluctuating nature, this checklist does not take account of any travel or other restrictions imposed because of the Covid-19 pandemic
What do I need to drive in France?
Read on for a comprehensive introduction to all things driving in France related.
The Legal Requirements Checklist
(new post-Brexit changes highlighted in bold)
These are the basic items that you must have with you at all times whilst driving or riding a motorcycle in France:
- A valid driving licence covering you for the vehicle you are driving/riding
- An up-to-date passport (with at least six months left to run) for each occupant of the vehicle
- Vehicle insurance documents, proving at least third-party cover
- A valid MOT certificate if your vehicle is over 3 years old
- V5 log book or a VE103 document for rented/hired vehicles
- A UK Sticker (replaced the GB sticker from September 2021)
- A warning triangle(excl motorbikes)
- Reflective helmet stickers for motorcycle riders²
- It is illegal to drive with an important bulb gone. Having aspare bulb kitwill help to avoid this
- a High Visibility Vest for each occupant of the vehicle
- Your vehicle (and any trailer/caravan/boat you are towing) should be displaying a UK sticker
- An Animal Health Certificate from your Vet for any pets you have with you
- A valid visa if your stay will take you over 90 days in any 180-day period
² There is some suggestion that this only applies to helmets made or sold in France. However, as this is first and foremost a safety feature - so we still recommendthat all motorcyclists have them.
Driving in France Kit
We offer a comprehensive French driving kit,that has all the legal items you need and a couple of great optional extras thrown in. You will save money with the kit over the cost of buying the items individually.
Buy it now from our sister website: European Driving Kit
Other Legal Requirements
(new post-Brexit changes highlighted in bold)
In addition, you should bear these in mind:
- Drivers have to be at least 18 years of age
- Moped and Motorcycle (up to 125cc) riders need to be at least 16 years of age
- Your vehicle should be taxed in the UK
- Your dipped headlamps must be adjusted so as not to dazzle oncoming traffic²
- All occupants must wear a seat-beltat all times whilst in the vehicle
- Children under 10 years of age should be in an approved and appropriate child restraint or booster seat (appropriate for their size and weight)³
- You must not use your mobile telephone whilst driving, even through a hands-free system or Bluetooth headset
- You must not use anything in or on your vehicle which warns you of the location of speed cameras⁴
- You must not wear headsets or headphones whilst driving (except motorcycle helmets which have these integrated)
- If you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card, this will cover you until it runs out. The UK Government is planning to introduce a new Global Health Insurance Card, but in the meantime you should ensure you have sufficient travel insurance cover if you do not have a valid EHIC card.
² Some modern vehicles have a control to adjust the direction of the headlights, and some LED headlights do not need beam deflectors. All other vehicles should be fitted with headlamp convertersto block or redirect the beam that would otherwise have shone onto the offside of the road when driven in France.
³ Children under 10 should be seated according to this table:
Position in Vehicle
Type of Seat or Restraint
Up to 13kg
Rear-facing child seat and airbag switched off
Up to 13kg
Babies in a carry-cot. Others in a rear-facing child seat
(Video) 20 Top Tips For Driving in France. French Driving Laws & Rules Tourists Need To Know
13 to 18kg
Front or Rear
Child seat with a 5-point harness or a protection tray
Front or Rear
Booster seat or cushion with an adult seat belt
⁴ Most modern satnav systems allow you to turn off speed camera alerts. I personally use the Waze app on my mobile phone for navigating through the whole of the UK, France and Spain. They have tried to get around this French law by only warning you when you are within range of a speed camera (this is very helpful).
Even though there is a significant fine for breaching this law, it's difficult to imagine how the French Police might actually enforce it as they would practically have to drive in the car with you towards a speed camera.
The 'Not So' Legal Requirements
These items aren't always required by law, but some can also be considered essentials, for the reasons given:
European Breakdown Cover
It isn't a legal requirement to have breakdown cover, but I can tell you from personal experience that it is a 'nice to have'. I once broke down in an estate car at the foot of the Pyrenees, with five people in the car (three adults and two children).
It was a Sunday afternoon, and I only spoke a little 'School French'. I had no idea what was wrong with the car, other than the engine had stopped and wouldn't start again. There were only hills, roads and a lake within sight in any direction - no houses or businesses.
Because I had breakdown cover, I was able to speak to someone on the telephone in English, explain what the problem was and give them my location. They rang me back a few minutes later to say that a mechanic was on their way.
A very nice French man turned up about 45 minutes later, looked under the bonnet of the car, went and got something from the back of his breakdown truck and then did a 'running repair' which got us back the 1,000 miles to home so we could get a more permanent repair of the accelerator cable that had snapped.
Now, can you imagine how difficult it would have been to arrange all that myself? And how much would the breakdown company charge for coming out to me on a Sunday afternoon? I'm convinced that it isn't worth driving in France - or any other European country without European Breakdown Cover.
You don't have to carry a fire extinguisher by law, although some people still buy one.
If you notice a fire breaking out on your own or someone else's vehicle, we strongly suggest you get away from the vehicle and let the emergency services deal with it.
- If at all possible get all occupants away from the vehicle
- Call 112 and ask for the fire brigade
- No matter how small and safe you think it is to do so, it is dangerous to be anywhere near a car that has smoke/flames coming out of it.
France has been up and down regarding breathalysers over the past few years, but at the beginning of 2020 they finally abolished the law that meant you had to carry them. If you want to hear the full story behind their antics, take a look here.
It is worth noting that the general level of alcohol permitted whilst driving in France is lower than in the UK - 0.5mg/ml compared to 0.8mg/ml - although drivers with less than three years experience are restricted even further to 0.2mg/ml. It is best to just accept that you shouldn't drive after consuming any alcohol, until it has cleared out of your system.
If you need glasses for driving, then you are required to carry a spare pair in the car with you whilst driving.
Crit'Air Air Quality Certificates
Since 2016 vehicular access to certain cities has been governed by the requirement to display a validCrit'Air Air Quality Certificate on your vehicle.
These areas have been designated 'low emission zones' and can be permanent (ZCR or 'Zone à Circulation Restreinte') or temporary (ZPA or 'Zone de la Protection de l’Air').
Basically, diesel vehicles made before 2006 are not allowed in these areas at all. Other vehicles should display the appropriate certificate (which you can apply for hereand will cost you about €10).
If you are caught driving in a restricted area in contravention of the rules, you can be fined €68 for cars/motorbikes, and €135 for vans and lorries.
The main cities where this applies currently are: Paris,Gironde/Bordeaux,Hérault/Montpelier,Lille,Lyon,Marseille,Strasbourg,Toulouse andPoitiers ...but these are sure to be increased in the near-future, with climate change being such a high priority nowadays.
...but these are sure to be increased in the near-future, with climate change being such a high priority nowadays.
If you are driving past one of these cities - sticking to the main roads and not actually driving through them - you shouldn't encounter a low emission zone and therefore don't need to display the sticker.
Priorité à droite This will definitely seem strange to most UK drivers. The French have an outdated rule called 'Priorité à droite', which means that unless it is marked otherwise at junctions, you should give way to vehicles joining from the right.
This will definitely seem strange to most UK drivers. The French have an outdated rule called 'Priorité à droite', which means that unless it is marked otherwise at junctions, you should give way to vehicles joining from the right.
You are more likely to be affected by this in small villages and towns that haven't had their roads updated lately. For example, you can be driving down a straight piece of road, and there can be a junction joining that road from your right. If there are no markings on the junction, you might see an older French man or woman in their Citroen Rosalie approach that junction from the right - see you coming towards them - and then pull straight out in front of you to go the opposite way on the road that you are on.
In 18 years of driving through France, this has happened only twice to me - but on both occasions I was the one that got the evil stare from the French motorist who couldn't understand why I thought I could continue straight-on withoutgiving way to them!
One Final Suggestion
If you have never driven in France before have a look at our French Road Signs page, that will also be useful to you.
Please note that the information given on this website is provided for general guidance only. It is intended to represent our understanding of the complex rules and regulations that are pertinent to driving or riding a motor vehicle in France - most of which are not readily available to us in the English language and laws change without notice. We therefore cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown here.
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5. Breathalyser kit. You may be aware that up until recently, all drivers and motorcyclists had to carry a personal breathalyser kit with at least two disposable testing units. However, in 2020 the rule changed to no longer make it a legal requirement.Do I need a green card to drive in Europe 2022? ›
You do not need to carry a green card when you drive in the EU (including Ireland), Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia, or Switzerland. You still need valid vehicle insurance. More about vehicle insurance.Do I need a clean air certificate to drive in France? ›
The Crit'Air certificate is obligatory for all vehicles driving around, or parked in, restricted or alternate driving zones, as well as certain LEZ (Low Emissions Zones). It is therefore obligatory for driving in cities such as Paris, Lyon, Lille and numerous other French conurbations.Do I need a GB or UK sticker to drive in France? ›
If your vehicle does not have the UK identifier within the number plate, you will require a UK sticker when driving in France. GB stickers will no longer be valid from the end of September.Is a green card necessary to drive in France? ›
You do not need to carry a green card when you drive in the EU (including Ireland), Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia, and Switzerland. You still need valid vehicle insurance. You may need to carry a green card to drive in other countries, including: Albania.Do I need anything special to drive in France? ›
A valid driving licence covering you for the vehicle you are driving/riding. An up-to-date passport (with at least six months left to run) for each occupant of the vehicle. Vehicle insurance documents, proving at least third-party cover. A valid MOT certificate if your vehicle is over 3 years old.What must be carried in a car in Europe? ›
As a general equipment list for driving year-round in European countries, whether mandatory or not, we recommend you carry in your car: Reflective jackets for each occupant (in the passenger compartment, not in the boot) meeting EN471 standards. 2 red warning triangles. A first aid kit in a dirt-proof box.Can you use debit cards on French toll roads? ›
When using a toll road in France, there are several ways you can pay for tolls. Any driver can pay for tolls by credit, debit card or cash (for manned toll roads).Do we need international driving permit to euro? ›
You do not need an IDP to drive in the EU , Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein if you have a photocard driving licence issued in the UK. You might need an IDP to drive in some EU countries and Norway if you have either: a paper driving licence.How much is a green card? ›
Green Card Costs
The government filing fee for a family-based green card is $1,760 for an applicant applying from within the United States, and $1,200 for an applicant living outside the United States.
Etias is expected to launch in 2022, but it won't be required of all travelers until 2023.How do I get a French emissions sticker? ›
How do I apply for the emissions stickers? You can apply for a sticker through the French Air Quality Certification Service online here. Be sure to apply in good time as the stickers can take around 30 days to arrive. They only cost a few pounds and will save you the risk of being hit with an on-the-spot fine of €68.How do I get a vignette in France? ›
How to get a sticker. Go to the French environment ministry's website to apply – don't buy from anywhere else as we've seen some non-official sites selling these stickers at vastly inflated prices. It's not necessary to apply for a particular vignette.What requirements for driving in France in winter? ›
The rules require all vehicles to have winter or 4-season tyres and/or to have non-slip snow chains or 'socks' mounted on the vehicle (or at minimum present in the vehicle) when driving in the above-mentioned departements during the winter season. Cars with studded tyres do not need winter tyres.What do I need to drive in France from UK? ›
To drive in France you must be 18 years old and have a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. You do not need to carry an additional International Driving Permit (IDP). If you do not own the vehicle you're driving, you should get written permission from the registered owner.What documents do I need to drive in France after Brexit? ›
After Brexit you can still drive as a tourist in France using your British driving licence, as long as you also present an International Driving Permit (if you do not hold a mainland UK driving licence).. If you are driving your own car you must also have a Green Card insurance certificate.Can I use my UK driving Licence in France? ›
If your UK driving licence was first issued before 1 January 2021. Your licence is recognised in France for as long as it is valid. Paper licences are usually valid until you are 70. For plastic photocard licences, the expiry date is on the front.Do I need an international driver license in France? ›
You may drive with a valid U.S. driver's license if it is accompanied by a notarized translation in French. It is strongly recommended that you carry an International Driving Permit. You must be 18 years of age or older to drive in France.What UK sticker do I need for France? ›
From 28 September 2021, you must identify that your vehicle is from the UK when driving abroad. If your number plate includes the UK identifier with the Union flag (also known as the Union Jack), you do not need a UK sticker to drive in France.How do I obtain a green card? ›
Apply for a Green Card
If you are eligible, file Form I-485 - Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with USCIS, including all supporting documents and fees. USCIS will review your application and schedule an interview with you. Once issued, your Green Card will be valid for 10 years.
How long will the Crit'Air sticker take to arrive? Expect the sticker to take up to 30 days, but many users have reported it coming through within a week. A confirmation email should arrive within two weeks with a slip that can be printed to prove the vehicle is covered.What 3 items must always be in your car? ›
- Tire Jack, Spare Tire, and Lug Wrench. We'll count this as 3 things, although they must be grouped together. ...
- Jumper Cables. ...
- Tire Pressure Gauge. ...
- WD-40. ...
- Duct Tape. ...
- Cleaning Supplies.
- Every Driver Must Have a Driver's License … ...
- And Automobile Registration … ...
- And Proof of Automobile Insurance. ...
- Another Thing Every Driver Must Have.
- Jumper Cables. Car batteries, especially in the South Florida heat, may only have a life of a few years. ...
- First Aid Kit. ...
- Flare or Hazard Cones. ...
- Spare Tire. ...
- Jack and Lug Wrench. ...
- Tire Pressure Gauge. ...
- Fire Extinguisher. ...
You should expect to pay between 15-40 € when entering a toll road in France. You can pay the toll with euro coins and a selection of cards. It's recommended to bring cash as not all foreign credit cards are accepted at the toll booths. Here's everything you need to know before entering the toll roads in France.Can you pay for French tolls in advance? ›
Yes - but it will cost you a little more. French motorway operator Sanef does now offer Liber-t télépéage tags to UK motorists. These allows you to use the automated T lanes, so beating the queues and removing the need to lean out of the window and pay manually.What cards are accepted in France? ›
Visa and Mastercard are accepted everywhere, but American Express and Diners Club cards can be used in fewer places. When making payments, some merchants may have a spending minimum — 10 euros for example.Can I get an IDP online? ›
You can't apply for an international driving permit online. To get your international driver's licence you need to apply in person at the Post Office.How do I get my permit? ›
Provide documents that verify your identity, age, and home address (residency) in your state. Complete a driver's education (driver's ed) course. Fill out an application for a learner's permit. Pay a fee for the permit (and possibly an additional fee for the knowledge test).How do I get an International Driving Permit for the EU? ›
The International Driving Permit is available from government-authorized organizations (such as national automobile associations) in 150 countries. To obtain it, you'll need to complete an application and submit it with a photocopy of your driver's license, two passport-size photos, and a small fee.
- Easiest Countries to Immigrate To.
- New Zealand.
- Czech Republic.
It may take up to 90 days from the date you entered to receive your permanent resident card. You entered the U.S. using your immigrant visa, You paid the immigrant visa fee AFTER you entered, It may take up to 90 days from the date you made your payment to receive your permanent resident card.Can you get paid to marry a foreigner? ›
Can I marry a foreigner for money? In the U.S, Marrying a foreigner for money is illegal, and those participating in immigration fraud can face up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.Do you need a visa for France from UK 2022? ›
You can travel to countries in the Schengen area, which France is part of, for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training.How much is the ETIAS fee? ›
For Americans, that fee is just under $8 (7 euros) per person. Sometime in 2022, the European Commission is set to launch what's called the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, or ETIAS.Who is exempt from ETIAS? ›
The ETIAS regulation does not apply to third-country citizens who have a residence permit issued by an EU Member State. Given that the individual has already applied for, and received permission, to reside in one of the ETIAS countries, an additional authorisation in the form of a visa waiver is not necessary.Are breathalyzers mandatory in France? ›
Drivers in France will no longer be obliged to carry breathalysers in their vehicles at all times, as the discredited and ignored law that required it has finally been formally scrapped.Do you need alcohol test for France? ›
From the first July 2012, it was intended that all cars on the French roads should have alcohol test equipment in the vehicle. This law was also applicable foreign tourists on holiday in the country. But now the law has been put on hold indefinitely.Can you drink alcohol and drive in France? ›
France has very strict drink driving laws. The French drink-driving limit is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. Sanctions and Penalties : Drivers found with between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol in your blood can be fined € 135 (£ 112).Does France have zero tolerance alcohol? ›
Alcohol & drugs
France has very strict rules concerning drink-driving; the legal blood alcohol limit is 0,5g/l of blood.
Warning Triangles - You will need to carry 2 x warning triangles when driving in France warning triangle must be placed 50 & 150 metres behind your vehicle to warn approaching traffic if your vehicle breaks down or is involved in an accident.Is it illegal to drive in flip flops in France? ›
"You can't drive barefoot, in claquettes or tongs (flip-flops). It's something you learn in driving school," one gendarme told regional newspaper Le Progrès. "You've got to have closed or attached shoes otherwise there's a risk of the foot slipping or that it won't grip the pedals sufficiently."Do you need two warning triangles in France? ›
Warning triangles are also required in France for all vehicles with more than two wheels. Additionally, in your vehicle you will need to carry a high visibility jacket and an NF approved breathalyser.
Travellers no longer need to present a sworn declaration that they are not infected with COVID-19 and pledge to take an antigen test or biological exam upon arrival in France. This also applies to travel between mainland France and each of the overseas territories.What UK sticker do I need for France? ›
From 28 September 2021, you must identify that your vehicle is from the UK when driving abroad. If your number plate includes the UK identifier with the Union flag (also known as the Union Jack), you do not need a UK sticker to drive in France.Can I take tinned food to France from UK? ›
Allowed items: Most processed, canned, and sealed foods (providing they don't contain animal-derived products) Powdered milk for babies and infants, and baby food (up to a total weight of 2kg)How many units of alcohol can you have in France? ›
France: No more than three standard drinks per day (30g) for men, and two standard drinks for women. That's broadly similar to the upper limits of the previous UK advice.How many glasses of wine can I drink and drive in France? ›
The blood-alcohol drink-drive limit in France is 0.5 grams/litre (lower than the English limit of 0.8g), and means that you can be breaking the law on one or two glasses of wine. You are liable for prosecution if you are over or equal to this limit.How many bottles of alcohol can I bring to France? ›
10 litres of spirits. 20 litres of fortified wine. 90 litres of wine (including a maximum of 60 litres of sparkling wines)What is prohibited in France? ›
- All forms of asbestos fibers.
- All forms of asbestos fibers.
- All products containing the biocide dimethylfumarate (DMF)
- Animal skins.
- Atlantic red tuna fish (Thunnus Thynnus) originating from Belize, Panama, and Honduras.
- Certain U.S. Beef hormones.
There aren't generalized “open container” laws, but there are certain areas that restrict public alcohol consumption on the street after 4pm: Champs-Elysées (8the), all around the Eiffel Tower and Champ de Mars (7th) all around Notre-Dame (4th); “sensitive” districts like Stalingrad (19th), Saint-Blaise (20th) and ...Is alcoholism high in France? ›
More than one in ten men (11 percent) in France die every year from alcohol-related causes which is more than twice as much as women (4 percent).