French Vehicle Registration Document (Certificat d'immatriculation)
The details on the vehicle registration documents and paperwork needed to buy, sell or scrap a car, move house or replace a lost or stolen Carte Grise...
The immatriculation is the vehicle (truck, car, camper, motorbike etc.) registration. The details of a vehicle's registration are carried in the Certificat d'immatriculation (certificate of registration, previously known as the Carte Grise, grey card). The certificat d'immatriculation (carte grise) or registration document identifies:
- The vehicle registration number
- The owner of the vehicle
- Details of the vehicle (make, model, year of manufacture, horsepower, engine and chassis numbers)
- Its compliance with European technical standards
Some car dealers are authorised to handle the registration of the car, provide a registration number, and temporary registration certificate (certificat provisoire d'immatriculation, CPI), as well as transfer the registration order directly to the authorities. The certificat d'immatriculation is sent by registered mail directly to the vehicle owner. The service is not free of charge.
- Learn more about letting a car dealer take care of the registration (in French)
- The French government website Service Public provides comprehensive information on vehicle registration documents - certificat d'immatriculation (in French only)
Vehicle Registration System (SIV)France adopted a new, nationwide vehicle registration system in 2009. This is the Système d'Immatriculation des Véhicules (SIV). The term "Carte Grise" no longer applies; the registration document is now called the certificat d'immatriculation.
How it works
- The vehicle is issued with a registration number at the first point of registration. This remains with the car until it is destroyed or exported, regardless of its location of registration in France
- An owner need not change the registration of a vehicle bought in a different département
- An owner need not change the registration if they move département, although they are required to report a change of address. A sticker will be sent by post which must be placed in the registration document (there is no charge)
- For full details on the vehicle registration system (in French)
Classic and collectors' carsIn order to protect the integrity of a classic car, the white on black number plate may be used, but must (if changing hands) display the new SIV number. A vehicle can be considered a collectors' car if it is more than 30 years old.
Further changes are coming into effect regarding registration and ownership of classic cars, including requirements for obligatory roadworthy checks (contrôle technique).
- Further information about the registration of classic and collector's cars in France is available from the Fédération Française des Véhicules d'Époques, FFVE (in French)
The registration platesThe plates have seven identifying letters and numbers in black on a white background. The format is: two letters - three numbers - two letters.
- The Ministry of Interior has more information on the registration plates in France
Statutory Off Road NotificationIt is possible to file a SORN (Statutory off Road Notification) when a vehicle is being modified or restored. During this time the car may not be driven, nor towed, on public roads. If a Déclaration de retrait de la circulation d'un véhicule is made for a just-bought car, it is not necessary to register it. The declaration is simple and free of charge: the form Cerfa n°13756*02 and registration documents (if applicable) should be updated on the ANTS website.
- The Service Public website has more details on how to apply for an 'off road notification'
- To download the 'off road notification ;form Cerfa n°13756*02, Déclaration de retrait de la circulation d'un véhicule
Scrapping a VehicleTo scrap a vehicle it is necessary to take it to an approved VHU centre (centre Véhicule Hors d'Usage), who can generally take care of all the paperwork involved on your behalf. The local préfecture can provide a list of these or a list is usually available on their website. The following documents will need to be presented:
- The Certificat d'immatriculation with the text "vendu le (jour/mois/année) pour destruction" (sold to be scrapped) or "cédé le (jour/mois/année) pour destruction" (left to be scrapped)
- A Certificat de situation administrative less than 15 days
- The first page of the form cerfa n°15776*01. One copy is for the vehicle owner, the other is given to the VHU centre
- Detailed information on how to scrap a car (in French)
- Learn how to cancel a car insurance (in French)