Applying for the Driving Licence

Understand how to obtain a driver's licence in France...

The first step is to apply at the Préfecture or through a driving school for the registration form Cerfa n°14866*01.

This must be completed and submitted with the following (If the applicant is under 18 it must be filled in by a parent or guardian).

  • Proof of identity or residency permit (Carte de Séjour)
  • Two recent identity photos with the applicant's name printed on the back
  • Two stamped, self-addressed envelopes
  • A medical certificate

In order to get a driving licence, the candidate must:

  • Undergo a medical examination by a local medical examiner, commission médicale départementale
  • Study for and take the theory exam, the code (the study book, Code de la Route, is available only in French from bookshops.)
  • Once the theory exam has been successfully passed, the candidate is entitled to five attempts at the practical exam over the course of three years

Note: A learner applicant may be accompanied by a sworn translator for the written theory test. This should be arranged in advance.

The Practical Test

The exam involves a 25-minute drive in normal traffic conditions. As of 18 March 2015, first aid training is an obligatory component. Competencies are evaluated on the day of the practical exam.

The result is available online 48 hours after the practical exam. If the candidate passed, the word favorable will is indicated on the bottom of the certificat d’examen du permis de conduire (CEPC).

The CEPC can be downloaded or picked up at the driving school. This is valid for four months and permits the holder to drive anywhere within France. In the event of a control, the police will accept the paper version of the CEPC or the version downloaded to the mobile phone or ipad.

If the candidate fails the practical test, the bilan de compétences is marked with insuffisant, the reasons for failing, as well as indications of what needs to be improved.

The licence is sent directly to the home address of the candidate within four months.

Note: If the driver wears spectacles or contact lenses, this must be stated on the licence and it is compulsory to wear either of them to drive. If the driver wears contact lenses, a set of eyeglasses must be kept with the driver at all times while driving.

There are special exceptions for physically disabled people. Enquire at the Préfecture or driving school.

Learner Drivers: Apprentissage Anticipé de la Conduite (AAC)

Basic driving practice can begin at 15 years if certain criteria are met. First register with the prefecture. Then sign up with a registered driving school for an "evaluation of knowledge". If successful, the learner must follow a minimum of 20 hours driving practice with a school before taking a general theory test. If successful, the candidate is issued with a certificate valid for five years to drive accompanied by an adult, with three obligatory teaching follow-ups by the driving school.

The practical exam can only be taken from the age of 17 years and six months by a learner who has completed the accompanied driving training for a period of one to three years and completed at least 3,000 Km. Even if the exam is successfully passed, the candidate may only drive alone on or after the person's 18th birthday.

An unlicenced trainee driver may not drive outside of France and is restricted to a speed limit of 110 Km/h on the motorway (Autoroute).

In summary:

  • The learner driver receives a certificate permitting them to drive accompanied by a qualified driver, who has held their licence for a minimum of five years
  • Before taking the practical test, the learner must drive for 3,000 Km accompanied by a qualified driver
  • The insurance company of the owner of the vehicle must be notified and be in agreement
  • The vehicle must be equipped with two side rear-view mirrors
  • The car should ideally have a central handbrake and a manual gear box. Learning to drive in an automatic car does not qualify the driver for the full category B licence
  • The exam involves a 25-minute course in traffic

Note: If the driver already holds a foreign driver's licence, they are not required to complete the 3,000 Km of "practice driving".

Financial help

The Permis à 1 euro is available for people aged 15 to 25. This type of financial help allows a candidate to borrow up to 1200 euros to offset the costs of obtaining a driving licence and repay a maximum of 30 euros per month. It is necessary to choose a driving school that participates in the program to be eligible for financial assistance.

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