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living and driving in France (bit long)

(28 Posts)
sleepy78 Wed 22-May-13 14:33:46

My friend has had a problem with her driving license and I'm afraid the same will happen to me! So..
We both live permanently in France, and recently she received a letter from the DVLA to say that, due to a new law, she had to change the photo on her British driving license. She apparently had 1 month to send it to them with a photo etc, otherwise she would be fined.
She did so, but since she told them that she lives in France (even though she said that it was not permanent), they have kept it and won't give it back, saying that she needs a French one now.
As far I as I can grasp, we can swap our British license for a French one, but you physically need to exchange them, so she cannot do this now that hers has been confiscated.
I looked on the DVLA website to see what it says and it says not a lot. I tried to phone but they're always engaged.
Has anyone else heard of this new "law"? I haven't received any letter yet, and I told them my new address when I moved to France 6 years ago without any problem.

clearsommespace Fri 24-May-13 05:26:06

It's such a minefield.

I moved to France when my UK license had 8 years left to run wrt to photo. I was told by DVLA that they couldn't change the address but that it would still valid for driving.
I was told by French to register it with the prefecture which involved sending a photocopy + proof of address and receiving a paper ( giving me a French driver number only I didn't know at the time) which showed my current address and UK license number. Everytime I changed address in France I got the paper updated. Numerous spot checks by gendarmes always fine.

Then I heard years later that because the address on UK license was incorrect, my license might be invalid. I phoned the DVLA a few times getting a different person and got different answers each time which sometimes contradicted the info on the web site.

It seemed that my license was acceptable to the French authorities for driving in France but not for driving in UK to the UK authorities (except if I was visiting according to one DVLA person). So I got DH who had a French license to do all the driving on our visits to the UK until I could change my license to a French one.

By the time I could do this, my photo had expired. This is because we were in the process of moving region in France and you couldn't apply for a French license until you had a proof showing you'd been at your address for at least 6 months! (But nobody mentioned the photo date, perhaps because the paper bit has a different expiry date) It was when I got the French license in region 2 they told me region 1 had already attributed me a driver number.

The system is flawed if the UK says it's no longer valid as soon as the address is invalid but you need to have been living at the same address in France 6 months to exchange your license.

tb Fri 24-May-13 18:45:09

Normally, you can exchange your license at the sous-préfecture. Need all the usual docs, such as birth/marriage certificate, edf bill, etc etc.

I'm really annoyed as I had a spent speeding offence on my old one, and forgot to 'lose' it before we moved. It's now written down on my French one.

sleepy78 Sat 25-May-13 08:16:05

clearsommespace - that's what has confused me so much - the fact that when you phone either side of the channel, the story changes depending on who you talk to! I'm lucky that my friend drew my attention to all of this now, whilst my English card is still in date. I'm definitely not giving it up though before I get a French one..
Off to make a "dossier" then and find my nearest sous - préfecture!

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