How to buy a car in France as a Brit: a complete guide

Gert Svaiko

If you’re moving to France from the UK, one of the first things you’ll need to consider is how you’re going to get around. While many of the major metropolitan areas have excellent public transportation systems, outside big cities getting from place to place will require having a car.

Buying a car in France can seem like a bit of a headache, but this article will take you through the most important things you need to know about the process. This includes where to find a car, how to register it and the French driving laws.

We’ll also point out a cost-effective way to manage your finances across borders from the money services provider Wise. The Wise account allows you to send money between the UK and France. You can also rely on the Wise card to help you handle all of your driving-related and everyday expenses while avoiding high currency conversion fees.


Please see the Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise fees & pricing for the most up-to-date information on pricing and fees.

Table of contents

Can you buy a new or a used car in France as a Brit?¹

Buying a car in France is possible even if you’re not a French national. It can be both brand new and already used. If you’re a Brit moving to France permanently, a car could really come in handy.

You can also buy a car in France as a non-resident. However, you won’t be able to register it and drive it without somehow proving that you have an address in France.

In order to register your car, you’ll need to provide your proof of address. Different documents can be used, but the most common ones are utility bills or rental contracts. Besides this, there’s nothing else standing in your way.

What about buying a car in France for export?

Buying a car in France for export isn’t different from the standard procedure. Once you export it, it’s up to local authorities in the destination country to decide whether you can drive it.

If you’re exporting a pre-owned car, its old licence plates will stay. On the other hand, brand new exported cars get temporary WW registration.

What’s the cost of owning a car in France?²

As is the case anywhere, the price of a car in France will vary greatly depending on the make and model. For example, a new car in the range of a Toyota Corolla costs close to 23,000 GBP.

On top of the cost of the vehicle, you’ll need to include gas in the budget, which was around 1.64 GBP per litre in December 2023. Your car will also need services and checks, including registration, taxes and insurance. The price of this can vary depending on the model of your car and how much you use it.

📚 Read more: The best UK banks for sending money abroad

Step-by-step process of buying a car in France as a non-resident³

When buying a car in France, the process slightly differs based on a few factors. The most important one is whether you’re buying a brand new car or a second hand one. Here are all the steps in both situations:

  1. Pick a suitable dealership or seller if you’re buying second hand
  2. Choose a car
  3. Take the car for a test drive and make sure it’s the right fit for you
  4. Pay the deposit
  5. Complete the purchase agreement and any additional paperwork
  6. Pay the remaining balance of the car’s price
  7. Register your car within 1 month of the purchase

What documents should you receive when buying a used car?⁴

There are a few documents you will receive from your car seller. First, they must prove that they’re the owners of the car by showing you the Certificate of Registration. If there are multiple owners, they all must provide their signatures.

You will probably also get a technical inspection report that’s less than 6 months old. This proves the car is in good condition and safe to drive.

Another one is a Certificate of Administrative Status less than 15 days old. This proves that the seller has paid all of their tickets and hasn’t pledged the car for a loan.

The Cerfa 15776 form is a sales document that both you and the seller will get. It must state the general condition of the car, including any damage. A sales contract on top of this is not compulsory, but it’s a good idea to have it.

At the end of the buying process, the seller has to give you the Certificate of Registration. Their name needs to be crossed out and it should be stated that the car has been sold.

How to register a car in France?

If you’re buying a new car, it’s likely that you won’t have to worry about registering it. The dealership usually handles it on behalf of the customer

Those who have to take care of registration themselves can do it alone or pay an agent. The whole procedure is done online, on the National Agency for Secured Documents (ANTS) website. You’ll need your Certificate of Registration, technical inspection report, Certificate of Administrative Status and filled out Cerfa 15776. The personal documents you’ll need to provide are your proof of identity, proof of address and proof of insurance.⁵


How can you pay for a new or used car?⁶

Paying for your car will typically be done by credit or debit card, unless you’re buying an older car from a private seller (in which case cash may be ok).

An increasingly popular financing option for both new and used cars is location avec option d'achat (LOA). It consists of putting up a deposit up to 15% of the price and paying a monthly sum for the next couple of years.

If you’re planning to finance your car from your bank account back home, a good way to cut down on fees is to use your Wise account. Along with the Wise card, it’s a great option if you want to spend your money wisely. Whenever you use the Wise card, it automatically converts your GBP to EUR at the mid-market exchange rate.

Learn more about the Wise card 💳

Please see the Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise fees & pricing for the most up-to-date information on pricing and fees.

Best places to look for a used car in France⁷

The internet is always a good place to start when it comes to buying things. If you’d like to look through as many car options as possible, check out these well-known websites:

The old-fashioned classified ads in the French newspaper are still an approved strategy for buying used cars. Websites like Leboncoin also have sections dedicated to them.

If you like searching for cars in person, you could stop by some authorised car dealerships. Many of them also sell pre-owned cars with warranties. This is a good route if you’re only interested in a specific car brand.

Finally, you could go to car supermarkets, which are essentially retail outlets. The prices are lower and some of them even offer financing options.

Tips on what to look for when buying a used car⁸

Before buying a car in France:

  • Check if the number in the registration document and the series number on the car are the same.
  • Make sure that the person you’re buying the car from is the registered owner.
  • The seller provides the Certificate of Non-Security and Certificate of Non-Opposition which guarantee that the car can be sold.

What should you know about driving in France?

Driving in France is fairly similar to driving in the UK with only a few key differences to keep in mind. The most important one is right-hand driving, which might take some getting used to. Similar to that, drivers in France overtake on the left.

When it comes to safety on the roads, know that driving kits are obligatory in France. You need to keep some items, such as warning triangles and reflective jackets, inside the cabin of your car. The blood alcohol limit is 0.05% and 0.02% for drivers with less than three years of experience.

Also, forget about using bluetooth earpieces, because this could result in a hefty fine. It’s best to take calls when you’ve safely stopped anyways.

Wise – a low-cost alternative to bank transfers

Want to save up even when buying a car in France? You might want to consider options other than your bank.

Open a Wise account and you can manage your money in 40+ currencies, including EUR. You can also send money internationally for low fees and mid-market exchange rates, all in just a couple of clicks.

You can also get a Wise debit card. The Wise card has no foreign transaction fees for spending abroad, so paying for gas or car repairs won’t break the bank.

Sign up with Wise today 💰

Please see the Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise fees & pricing for the most up-to-date information on pricing and fees.

Sources used for this article:

  1. - buying a car in France
  2. Numbeo - cost of living in France
  3. Expat Focus - buying a car in France
  4. - sell your vehicle
  5. - registering a car in France
  6. Connexion France - leasing and car finance deals in France
  7. - buying a car in France
  8. Expat Info Desk - buying a car in Paris

Sources last checked on: 13-Dec-2023

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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