Driving Licence Issued Outside the EU or EEA
What happens if you want to drive in France but carry a licence issued in one of the major English-speaking countries outside the EU? Find out here what to do if you have an American, Canadian, Australian or other driving licence...
You can drive in France on a valid non-EU licence, for example a US Driving licence, for up to one year. You then have to exchange it for a French one (where permitted) or take a full French driver's test.
Agreements exist with certain countries and states (including Australia, South Africa, and some US states and Canadian provinces), whereby an exchange may be made providing that it is done within your first year of legal residency in France. This is where a reciprocal agreement exists between France and that country or state. The list of countries with which France has a reciprocal agreement does change.
- Contact the issuing country's Consulate or Embassy in France.
- Information from the French government on driving in France with a valid non-EU/EEA licence (in French)
- Service Public has comprehensive details on exchanging a foreign driving license
Once you have applied for the licence exchange it can take many months for the licence to be issued. Until you receive your new licence you will be given a receipt allowing you to drive in France until the licence is issued; since March 2018, this receipt is valid to drive for 8 months. Your new licence will be sent to your home by post.
Australian, South African driving licencesHolders of valid South African and Australian (all States and Territories) licences are entitled to exchange them in the same way as holders of valid EU licences provided the application is made within the first 12-months months of residence. Australians note: As the Australian licence does not have a "valid from" date noted on it, a document from the Australian authorities stating when the licence was issued may be required.
Canadian licencesDrivers holding licences from Quebec, Newfoundland, Labrador and Ontario may exchange their licence for a French one within the first year after arrival in France. A driver with a licence issued in Ontario must have held that licence for at least 24 months in the previous three years. Canadians are advised by the Consulate to report this exchange to the provincial authority that issued the driver’s licence in Canada. If the exchange is not made within one year, a full French theory and practical driving exam must be taken to obtain a French licence.
- For information from the Canadian Embassy in France on exchanging a licence
- Further information for drivers with licences from other provinces and territories, from the Canadian Embassy in France
New Zealand licencesHolders of a valid New Zealand-issued driving licence who have been resident in France less than one year may exchange their licence for a French one. This is done in the same way as holders of valid EU licences provided the application is made within the first 12-months months of residence.
- Further information from the New Zealand Embassy
American-issued licencesA driver 18 years and over may drive in France on a valid US driver's license for one year from the time of receiving a residency permit. It is recommended to attach a French translation by a sworn translator (traducteur expert-juré) to the US driver's license. Contact details of translators available at the Mairie and Préfecture. If the licence was issued by any of the following states it may be exchanged in the same way as EU and EEA member licences provided application is made within nine months of being issued a residency permit:
- Delaware, Maryland,Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Florida, Connecticut (check with a US Consulate or Embassy as this list is subject to change)
- For information from the French Embassy in Washington