How to Buy and Register a Used Car

The buyer of a used car in France has certain obligations; make sure you know what you need to do to register your secondhand car...

Before agreeing to buy a used car in France:

  • Make sure that the series number stamped on the car matches that in the registration document (Certificate d’Immatriculation – commonly known as the Carte Grise) of the seller
  • Make sure that the seller is the legally registered owner of the car by checking on the Certificat d'Immatriculation and ensure that the seller provides a Certificat de Situation Administrative (commonly known by its old name of certificat de non-gage), which certifies that the car is not acting as security against a loan. This must be no more than 15 days old.
When paying for and taking possession of the of the used car, ensure the seller provides all items listed in the guide How to Sell a Used Car found in the left hand side menu.

Documents required to register a vehicle

Since November 2017 it has no longer been possible to register the sale of secondhand French cars at the Préfecture (this is the departmental centre for many administrative tasks), or Sous-préfecture (sub-prefecture), or to send it in by mail – everything must be done online.

Registration of the vehicle is now done on the website of the Agence nationale des Titres Sécurisées – ANTS. This agency is responsible for issuing and updating French car registration documents; each vehicle requires a Certificat d’Immatriculation. Following the purchase of a secondhand vehicle, you have one month to register it in your name. It is also possible for another person to complete the process on your behalf – some auto repair centres, for example, do this for you for a fee. 

The following documents are required to carry out the procedure (you’ll need photos or scanned copies).

  1. Proof of residence: a recent utility bill (electricity, gas) or rental receipt, house deeds or home insurance documents – less than six months old
  2. A copy of the Certificat d’immatriculation/Carte Grise marked with “Vendu le (date, month, year and time)” if you bought the car or “Cédé le (the date, month, year and time)“ if it was given to you, with the date of the sale and signature of the previous owner and dealers stamp if appropriate
  3. A contrôle technique (CT) certificate, if the car is more than four years old
  4. If you are carrying out the procedure on behalf of someone else, you will also need a copy of their passport or identity card, and written permission (un mandat)
  5. The previous owner will need to give you a code to use (code de cession), which was given to them on the ANTS website when they began the procedure to register the sale

A copy of your driving licence and proof of insurance may also be required.

Payment of registration fees can only be done by debit or credit card.

During the online procedure you will also need to provide the following information about the holder of the Certificat d’Immatriculation:

  • Their phone number and email address
  • Their full name
  • The country and town of their birth
  • Their date of birth
  • Their gender

How to register a French car online

The first step is to go to the official ANTS website and select the option ‘J'achète ou je reçois un véhicule d'occasion’. To carry out the procedure, you can only login with a France Connect account, which is a new initiative used to simplify your connection to online services. To log on to France Connect you can either use your login details for the tax website, the Améli website, the La Poste website, or using your French mobile phone number. Note that if you are not tax resident, don’t have a Carte Vitale (health insurance card), or a French mobile number, a La Poste account is the only option. After creating your La Poste account, an appointment will be made for a postman to come to your French address to confirm your identity before the account can be activated.

Once all relevant fields have been filled in and documents uploaded, you will get

  • A file number
  • An acknowledgment of registration of your application
  • A Provisional Certificate of Registration (certificat provisoire d'immatriculation - CPI), which you will need to print. The CPI allows you to drive the car for 1 month, until you receive the final Certificat d’Immatriculation / Carte Grise. This is sent by recorded delivery, and you should receive it within 7 working days.

You can also track the progress via the ANTS website.

Price of vehicle registration

The price of registration is determined annually at a regional level (it varies across the country), and depends on a vehicle's horse power (cheval vapeur). Consult the Préfecture or Sous-Préfecture of the region for information.

Registering Collector's Vehicles

A vehicle (car, motorbike or truck) over 30 years of age can be registered in France as a collector's vehicle véhicule de collection. The vehicle does not need to be approved and standardised by the DRIRE. 

The vehicle roadworthiness test is no longer required for a collector’s vehicle registered before 1960 (since February 2017).

The Fédération Française des Véhicules d'Epoque (French Federation of Classic Vehicles) is a national organisation which provides information and forms needed to register a classic car in France. Help can be requested by sending copies of the required documents so that a file can be prepared for submission to the local Préfecture or Sous-Prefecture.

Note: When registering a foreign imported vehicle in France, a customs certificate 846-A will be required, along with court approved translations of all existing registration documentation. Again, the FFVE is able to assist.

Service Public has further information on how to register a classic or vintage car in France.

Registering a Moped

A Certificat d’Immatriculation is required for mopeds. The vendor (who should have signed a convention with the State) can register a new scooter in the buyer's name. Provide the dealer with the required information and identity card/passport or, in the case of a business purchase, a Kbis or Lbis registration certificate. To register an older moped either go the Prefecture or Sous -Préfecture of your place of residence, or get another person to complete the process on your behalf – some auto repair centres, for example, do this for you for a fee. 

Provide the following documents:

  • proof of identity: passport, carte de séjour or French driving licence
  • proof of residence: a recent utility bill, or rental receipt, house deeds or home insurance documents
  • the form demande d'immatriculation completed and signed. (Forms are available from auto dealers, the Préfecture or can be downloaded from the ANTS website

Registration of a moped is free of charge.

Find out more about registering a moped in France (in French)

Note: Where the owner of the moped is a minor, the parents or legal guardian must give written permission, a mandat, to the minor carrying out the certificat d'immatriculation application.

Last updated 29/09/2020