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Driving in France

Thinking about driving in France?

If you intend to drive during your stay in France, it’s important that you should understand what is required of you.

Driver’s license ("permis de conduire")

Keep in mind that you must carry your driver’s license at all times. It must be presented to an officer on demand.

Driver’s licenses issued by a state from the European Economic Area

If your driver’s license was issued by an EU Member State or a State of the European Economic Area (E.E.A.), you can use it in France under certain conditions. There is a European agreement on the reciprocal recognition of driver’s licenses.

Please note the following:

  • your license must be valid,
  • you must be over 18,
  • you must use your license according to any medical notes stated on it (such as the obligation to wear glasses),
  • the license must not have been obtained in exchange for a license from a non-EU or a non–EEA country with which France has not signed a reciprocal agreement,
  • there must not be any penalty and restriction, such as license suspension or withdrawal.

If the license has been obtained in exchange for a license from a non-EU or a non-EEA country with which France has not signed a reciprocal agreement, it is valid in France for only a year and you will not be able to exchange it for a French driver’s license.

Driving in France with a driver’s license from outside of the European Economic Area

If you are a non-EU national and you have a driver’s license from outside of the EU, your driver’s license is valid for up to one year under certain conditions.

You will find further information on the Service public website.
For more information about driver’s licenses in France, please consult the préfecture d’Evry website (in French).

Road regulations

Road regulations apply to all public highway users, i.e. pedestrians, cyclists, powered two-wheeler riders and motorists. Each and every one has to comply with road regulations. Should you fail in complying with them, you may be fined or prosecuted and sentenced to jail.

What is crucial for you to remember when driving in France

  • You must drive on the right-hand side of the road.
  • Speed limit for private cars (km/h) are the following: 50 km/h on urban roads, 90 km/h on rural roads, 130 km/h on motorways (110 km/h if it is raining). Please note that some urban roads have 30 km/h speed limits ("zones 30").
  • Your blood alcohol content must be less than 0.5 g/L to drive.
  • Using a mobile phone while driving is strictly forbidden.
  • Using a hands-free mobile phone while driving is allowed.
  • It is mandatory to fasten your seat belt, in the front seat and in the back seat.
  • Children under 10 are not allowed in the front seat.
  • It is mandatory to wear a helmet on mopeds and motorcycles.
  • Compulsory equipment required in all vehicles (including motorbikes) includes reflective jackets, a warning triangle, as well as two breathalyzers or alcohol-level tests.