Importing a Caravan, Camping Car or Trailer in France

How to import and re-register a caravan, trailer or camper van in France; and how to conform to French registration requirements...

At a glance

  • Any towable vehicle (including farm trailers) with a maximum gross vehicle weight (GVW) of more than 500 kg must be registered to travel legally on French roads.
  • The procedure for registering a caravan is identical to registering a car
  • Once registered, the caravan or trailer will be issued with a French number plate
  Once the vehicle has arrived in France, you must register it and obtain a Carte Grise (Certificat d’Immatriculation) or Grey Card. The immatriculation is a vehicle's registration. The details of a vehicle's registration are carried in the Certificat d'immatriculation (Carte Grise, grey card). Foreign-registered caravans and camper vans imported for use in France must be re-registered in France.
  • Registration is generally only available online, and you will need to log in with your digital national identification number. In some rare cases it may be possible to register the caravan with a local licenced assessor or the local prefecture however there are no consistent rules on this and it is important to check directly with your prefecture
  • Use the online wizard (in French) to check what is needed when registering a caravan through a licenced assessor, through the local prefecture (in person or via post), or online
Registration must be done within one month of import or four months if the vehicle requires a single vehicle approval inspection. The registration process will vary depending on the age, make and country of origin. The two broad categories are: 1. Caravans less than 6 months old 2. Caravans older than 6 months. Before being able to register the vehicle and receive the Certificat d’immatriculation, the vehicle must conform to the French road and safety standards. If the vehicle was recently manufactured, conforms to European standards and has all the associated documents, the registration process should be relatively straightforward. Complications are common however, with older, non-standard vehicles without documentation. Below is an outline of the typical process.

Application for Registration

The procedure to register a caravan or mobile home depends on when it was first registered, and which documents accompany the vehicle. Registration directly with the Préfecture is possible when in possession of:
  • a European Certificat de Conformité and Certificat d’immatriculation or
  • the Attestation d’identification from the manufacturer
If a vehicle has an Attestation de non conformite issued by the manufacturer, or no documents, the Directions Régionales de l’Environnement, de l’Aménagement et du Logement (DREAL) must check the car for conformity to French roads and safety standards. In order to register a caravan, or mobile home, the owner must provide the relevant documents (original plus one photocopy) listed below. Required documents may vary depending on where the vehicle was originally registered

Caravans and mobile homes less than six months old

Vehicles which are new or less than six months must conform to European standards. The following are required to complete the registration in France:
  • A completed Demande de reception individuelle form (see Annexe 1)
  • One of the following:
    • Vehicle registration document from the originating country
    • An official document proving the origin of the vehicle registration and an official document proving the vehicle has been removed from circulation there
    • An International Certificate for Motor Vehicles (ICMV) from the country where the vehicle was last registered
  • Certificat de Conformité (Certificate of Conformity, issued by the manufacturer; if in a language other than French, a European Certificate of Conformity is required)
  • Documentation proving the unladen weight of the vehicle
  • A completed Notice Descriptive Simplifiée (Simple Description of the Vehicle) form (see Annexe 2)
  • Registration fee (cheque or money order [mandat cash] only)
NOTE: vehicles under six months old with less than 6000km imported to France  require that it is taxed in the country in which it is to be registered. To avoid paying VAT twice the vehicle should be bought VAT free in the country of purchase . Otherwise the owner will have to reclaim the tax from the country of origin.

Caravans and mobile homes more than six months old

The following are required to complete the registration in France:
  • An official document proving the origin of the vehicle
  • Documentation proving the unladen weight of the vehicle
  • A certificate from the manufacturer, or manufacturer’s representative, stating that the vehicle as manufactured does not conform to European standards
  • Proof from the DREAL that the points that did not meet original conformity requirements now comply
  • A completed Demande de Réception à Titre Isolé
  • A completed Notice Descriptive Simplifiée (Simple Description of the Vehicle) form (see Annexe 2)
  • A roadworthiness certificate
  • Registration fee
  • Proof of ownership – if the vehicle registration document is in your name, then no further proof is required. If you have bought the vehicle from someone else to import here, then you will need to produce an invoice/receipt issued by the person named on the registration document. For a trailer, an invoice/receipt is required.
  • Certificate of Conformity – see below for availability options
Once you have submitted the above documents and paid the fee, you will be issued with a provisional registration certificate which you must produce to get your new number plates made up. Your Carte Grise (registration certificate) will arrive in the post within a few days. Finally, if the vehicle was registered in the UK, you must notify the DVLA that the vehicle has been permanently exported by sending them the tear-off export slip from the V5C registration document.

Conformity or Homologation

A caravan or mobile home weighing more than 500 Kg and less than 3,500 Kg must first be checked for conformity to French road and safety standards, unless the owner possesses a European Certificate de Conformité and Certificate d’immatriculation or the Attestation d’identification from the manufacturer for the vehicle. The conformity check is handled through the owner's local Directions Régionales de l’Environnement, de l’Aménagement et du Logement (DREAL). The caravan will need to conform (among other things) in the following ways:
  • chassis
  • braking system
  • towing head
  • electrical sockets (European standard)
  • gas regulators (European standard)
  • axle weights
  • reversing and fog lights
To initiate a conformity check the vehicle owner must complete and submit a Demande de Réception à Titre Isolé form, to the DREAL. The form details the make, model, chassis number and other particulars of the vehicle.

Examination

Once the documents have been sent to the DREAL they will be checked to ensure that the make, year and chassis number correspond to French homologation standards. The DREAL will then inform the owner of a date to have the caravan, trailer or camping car examined. Before presenting the vehicle it is important to check, change or add the following to ensure the vehicle conforms to French standards:
  • Chassis
  • Braking system
  • Manufacturer's mark (plaque constructeur)
  • Plate showing maximum laden weight, empty weight, size, length and width (Plaque de Tare). This is only required for vehicles that will be transporting goods
  • Identification number engraved on the vehicle
  • Axel weights
  • Tyres
  • Indicators and reverse lights
  • Security fittings on the rear of the vehicle (Anti encastrement arrière)
  • Tow head
  • Interior electrical sockets (caravans and campers)
  • Gas regulators (caravans and campers)

Trailers

The maximum laden weight (Poids Totale Autorisée en Charge - PTAC) and unladen weight (Poids Vide - PV) should be shown on all trailers, whatever the weight, on the nearside of the front of the trailer or on the draw bar. If a trailer has a loaded weight of less than or equal to 500 Kg, no special registration documents are required regardless of the country of construction. Trailers greater than 500 Kg (PTAC, laden weight) must:
  • be registered, hold a Certificat d'immatriculation (Carte Grise) registration document and have registration plates (apply at the Préfecture)
  • have a certificate of insurance (certificat d'assurance), which must be shown in a waterproof holder in the front nearside window of the towing vehicle, on the front nearside of the trailer or next to the insurance certificate (certificat d'assurance) of the towing vehicle
Once the vehicle has been accepted by the DREAL, registration can take place online.