keeping my uk driving license though living in another eu country?

(13 Posts)
riverboat Wed 26-Feb-14 13:06:53

I have been living in France for four years, driving here for three, using my UK license to take out French car insurance, rent cars when visiting the UK, without any problems.

I know my UK license is valid here in France, but have just read something that makes me doubt whether it's technically valid in and of itself as it still has my UK address on it, which isn't actually my address any more (though my parents still live there)

It's not possible to register a French address on a UK license, so am I actually legally obligated to surrender my UK license and apply for a French one? Or can I just keep using my UK one until it expires? (in about 4 years time)...

any help appreciated!

frenchfancy Wed 26-Feb-14 20:10:28

I believe in theory you can continue to use your UK licence. However, in practice I have heard of insurance companies getting difficult in the case of a claim.

If you get caught speeding or any other offence you will need to change your licence.

I don't think it costs much (if anything) to change your licence. It is a pretty simple process and a French licence is very useful as a form of identity.

DolomitesDonkey Thu 27-Feb-14 19:00:15

In holland you have 10 years. I never had problems in 15 years - still in old green paper one (switched countries). Check out 10 year rule?

riverboat Thu 27-Feb-14 23:36:02

Dolomites - it's not so much the French rules I am worried about, they clearly state that if you are a French resident you can use a valid driving license from any EU country for an unlimited period of time without being obliged to exchange it for a French one (unless you get points).

What I am worried about is the validity in and of itself of my UK drivers' license, seeing as it has an invalid address on it (i.e. my old UK address).

However, I have found something on the back of the paper part of my license that says:

You must tell the DVLA of any change to your permanent address... blah blah blah*...
You need only notify a change of address in GB. A change of address outside GB cannot be entered on your license

...which to me seems pretty clear. Surely if it was a problem, the wording would be 'a change of address outisde GB renders your license invalid' or somesuch? The 'you need only notify' part seems to suggest it's OK to me.

SignoraStronza Thu 27-Feb-14 23:42:35

My friend 'lost' her UK licence, had it replaced and exchanged the 'lost' one for a French one. So she has a licence for each country except when caught speeding so they can't process the points. That's when the other country's licence and a pidgin version of a language she's perfectly fluent in comes in handy.

NomDeClavier Fri 28-Feb-14 08:20:02

I still use my UK license. I renewed it using my parents address. I also keep a bank account registered to that address. Never had any issues. It was more practical when I was nomadic smile

PortofinoRevisited Fri 28-Feb-14 21:44:52

Whilst it is still valid you have no problem. But the DvLA will not renew if you don't have a uk address. You need to then phone them and they will send you a statement. You then need to get a local licence.

riverboat Thu 06-Mar-14 06:47:52

Thanks for the advice everyone, am going to operate on the assumption that I can keep my license until it expires then change for a French one.

riverboat1 Thu 29-May-14 22:43:51

Just an update on this!

I went over to the UK recently, and rented a car. The rental company (Hertz) almost didn't let me go through with the rental, as the address on my licence wasn't the same as my current address. Apparently it's a criminal offence to drive with a licence with the incorrect address on it, and if you are involved in a RTA or subject to a random check by police you will be charged.

The man on the Hertz desk told me this had happened to him a few years ago when he hadn't updated his own address on his licence. However, he did let me continue with the rental in the end, even though apparently he really shouldn't have and it was more than his job's worth etc.

So today I just looked into changing my licence for a French one. I naively thought I could go to the prefecture tomorrow (since I have a rare weekday off work) with my licence, passport, proof of address etc and get the process started then and there. But of COURSE it couldn't possible be that simple, this is France! How could I have been so stupid?! I have just discovered the following obstacles after doing some research online:

- the prefecture and sous-prefectures in my department are all closed tomorrow (the one non-ferrier day in the year they are closed)

- even if they weren't, you have to make an appointment in advance to deposit your dossier for changing your licence (and appointments are only available between 8am and 4pm on weekdays - so completely incompatible with full time 9-6pm working hours then, especially when you don't work in your local town and have an hours' commute hmm )

- you have to have an official, stamped French translation of your original driving licence

- you have to provide COLOUR photocopies of your original licence, they will not make a colour photocopy for your at the prefecture, you have to do it yourself in advance

- the most random rule of all: if your original driving licence comes from a country that doesn't record the 'ville de delivrance' on it (ie the name of an issuing town) on it, then you have to get a 'certificate of authenticity' to prove it is genuine. God knows what this certificate actually is or how I am supposed to get one or why the hell it is necessary.

So I foresee fun times ahead trying to get all this sorted out, paying for translations, taking time off work to go to the prefecture with my seemingly-complete dossier only to inevitably find out I am missing some obscure document that no-one ever mentioned before, and then take MORE time off work to make ANOTHER appointment...oh god.

I hate French bureaucracy.

Rosie29 Sat 31-May-14 20:40:35

Sounds almost as bad as Greek bureaucracy! Love the random rule!

usuallydormant Sat 31-May-14 22:29:58

It mightn't be that complicated- call the Prefecture in advance as it can vary from dept to dept. I exchanged mine with the colour photocopies and an attestation from DVLA, no translations of anything required, nor certificates of authenticity. You do need to call DVLA and they will send you a certificate to confirm you have a clean licence, which you put in with your application (they charge for this).

It's a pain having to do it in person, but I found it pretty straightforward. I think some of the rules vary depending on how uses they are to exchanging and the country of origin, but we have changed irish and uk ones easily.

scottswede Sun 01-Jun-14 07:24:00

My photo on my UK driving licence expired, didn't know this until I tried to hire a car back in the UK,thankfully the lovely man let it go.
Back in Sweden I sent my Uk licence off to the DVLA equivalent and got my Swedish licence. No hassle whatsoever.
Same with kids passports. Took kids and expired UK passports to police station, they do the photos too, collected new Swedish passports 2 weeks later.
If only everything in Sweden was so straightforward

ivan123 Thu 03-Jul-14 23:09:00

I was confronted with the demand for a "certificate of authenticity" for my Irish driving license when I arrived at the Prefecture de Grasse this morning with my full set of documents (so I thought).
usuallydormant, how did you manage to get this for an Irish license? They told me that the consular could do it, he had no idea, the embassy had never heard of such a thing, suggested the Gardai might know, they didn't.
It's infuriating! I suppose it's my fault for turning up just before they went to lunch.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now