Driving in France

The following information is also available at http://www.ambafrance-us.org/spip.php?article376

If you are on a short visit or short business trip (less than 90 days)

You may drive with a valid U.S. driver’s license. In addition to that, it is recommended (not required) to carry an International Driving Permit or attach a French translation to your US driver’s license. Also, you are to be at least 18 years old to drive in France.

If you are a resident of France (holder of a Carte de séjour or a Carte de résidence, more than 90 days)

You may drive in France with a valid US (not international) driver’s license for a period of one year starting on the date of validity of the first carte de séjour (except for students for whom driver’s license expire at the end of their studies). You must also attach a French translation of your driver’s licence.

If you have a valid driver’s license prior to your first entry into France as a resident and issued from the following states: Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky and Texas recently, you may exchange it for a French permit if you apply at least three months before the expiration of the one-year recognition period. These States offer a reciprocal privilege of exchange for persons holding French permits.

If you don’t have a driver’s license from one the states mentioned above, you must take the written and driving portions of the French licensing examination after one year of residence in France. Special sessions are organized for those who do not speak French. Also, you may ask to be assisted by a translator who may be a friend or a relative. You can take the driving exam in an automatic car, but not all driving schools provide this service. There is no minimum lesson hour requirement.


To apply, go to the local Préfecture de Police, if there is not an agreement between your State and France, the staff will direct you to a driving school where you can take the exam. In Paris, the Préfecture de Police is located at 7 Boulevard du Palais, 75004 Paris Tel: 01 53 71 53 71 Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday

You will need to bring:

Your U.S. driver’s license along with a notorized translation in French
Proof of residence: statement of domicile, electricity bill or rent receipt
Carte de Séjour with photocopy of both sides.
Four passport size photographs

International Driver’s License

The American Automobile Association issues International Driver’s Licenses in the United States for US citizens who go to France for a short period of time (less than 90 days). Website: American Automobile Association.

Sending your car or motorcycle to France

Pease visit the Embassy of France Customs Office

For specific information in English regarding, insurance, documentation of motor vehicles, sales, transfers of ownership, and driving schools with an English-speaking instructor, refer to the American Embassy in Paris website.

Car Rentals

You must be at least 20 years old and have held a full driving licence for at least a year to rent a car. Insurance is compulsory. The main car rental companies have offices in airports, railways stations and in major city centers. Embassy of France in the U.S. - August 24, 2001