Woke up extra early this morning, having put this off for quite some time, so I could get ready to go exchange my Canadian drivers licence to be able to drive in La France!
You can drive in France with a foreign drivers licence up to 1 year, after 1 year your licence is void.
So to avoid that situation (I technically don’t need a car in Paris but I keep thinking possible car rental situations or buying a car in the future), you have to deposit your request before your 1 year anniversary is up.
Mine is up in October and since my Canadian drivers licence expires in August, I had to get it done ASAP.
So I hauled @$$ to ‘La Préfecture de Police’ in the 18th arrondissement to Porte de Clignancourt – Metro line 4 and the address of the office is 92 Boulevard Ney, 75018 Paris, open from 8:30 to 4:30 PM most days except Friday when they close at 4:00PM.
Link to site: Prefecture de Police – Permis de Conduire
Different situations apply to different situations so read carefully.
My situation falls under #4: Exchanging a foreign driving license issued by a country not belonging to the European Union or the European Economic Area
I had all my papers ready to go and the only thing I was worried about was my Minister of Transport paper from Canada called a Drivers Abstract as it isn’t an official certified document but I headed there anyways with everything neatly organized in a folder.
What do you need for papers?
- Forms CERFA #14879*01 and CERFA 14948*01 Réf 6 (found on link above)
(Fill them properly, these forms have RULES – black ink, capital letters, etc)
- 2 photos recently taken following photo specifications
(you can take these at the cell phone provider Orange or in the Metro, they have tiny kiosks for 5€’s for 5 photos which I did for the first time… super efficient)
- 2 colour copies of VALID passport or national identity card (titre de séjour in France).
Something proving that you’re allowed to stay in France beyond 1 year, once again legally.
- 2 copies of proof of address
– Gas or electricity bill (for EDF- I found out that the attestation is not enough, has to be the actual bill, luckily I had a backup) , water bill, mobile or home phone bill, rental contract, etc)
- 2 colour copies of your VALID drivers licence (translated if it’s not in french and legalized)
- A recent certificate of foreign authorities attesting to the validity of the right to drive and its official translation if not exclusively in French.
This is where my questionable drivers abstract comes in.
Pieces of advice:
- Always bring the originals of everything!
(I saw fellow canadians refused because one of their papers was scanned and even if it had an original stamp, it was refused because it wasn’t the original paper with original stamp)
- Bring copies of everything and keep the extra photos with you!
I had to provide an extra photo because one of them was scratched!
- Bring a few proof of addresses with you just in case.
Paper, paper and more paper.
For those living in Paris (75), you can’t do any of this by mail, you have to present yourself with all informations requested.
There is 0.00 cost for those exchanging permits in Paris.
If you have to do anything in France regarding paper work, I suggest going earlier than ‘when the doors open’.
I was about 7th in line at 7:25 AM and the line included two types of people…. the drivers permit people and the international students.
I waited in that line for over an hour and I swear time stood still!! Checking my phone every 10 minutes, I felt like time wasn’t moving.
But finally 8:30 rolled around, the gates opened and we were told to put our bags through a security conveyor belt like at the airport and then I headed to the second floor via the stairs. *Faster than the elevator*
I then stood in another line for frontdesk to check my papers, the lady stalled at my drivers abstract, my heart pounding for a minute as she said she didn’t know if it would pass but she still handed me my ticket…. to yes, yet again, wait until my number was called.
Another line. But sitting down this time!
I got my ticket at 8:42 and wasn’t called for another 25 minutes. I seriously thought they forgot my number because it felt like everyone else behind me in the line at reception was going before me.
I was finally beckoned, walked to ‘Guichet D’ and handed my papers, she looked everything over and then….up comes the drivers abstract and she asked what it was and if it was translated.
Thankfully for us Canadians our drivers permits and abstracts are in french as well as english, (I FULLY SUPPORT BILINGUALISM!!!) and I kindly explained this to the clerk and that this paper explained that I had to wear glasses/contacts to drive and was ok to drive, also showed 0 demerits!
She seemed to accept the damned paper… she pilled everything up, looked at me and then told me to go sit down again and wait until I was called a second time.
I waited another 20 minutes, she showed up out of nowhere, handed me a paper and pen and told me to fill it out and come see her once it was done… Finished by a ‘don’t forget to bring back my pen’.
I filled it out, went to her station and she filled out a bit of information on the computer, printed a paper, made me check that all information was ok and then gave me another piece of paper.
Then proceeded to explain that my licence should be ready in 3-4 weeks, I could check the website and see where the request is, once I see that it’s been delivered, I could come pick it up on the 4th floor with this piece of paper, my Canadian drivers licence and piece of ID.
They’ll be keeping my canadian drivers licence and give me the french one until I ‘go back’ to Canada.
And this!!! is how I officially applied to get my canadian licence exchanged for a french one!
So happy this is 90% done.
Still don’t have it officially in my hands but I stepped into the office at 10:45 this morning with a well deserved starbucks.
PS- This may seem like I’m annoyed but it’s the opposite.
I find certain processes, paperwork, peoples attitudes absolutely hilarious and if I were to take things seriously?
I would of flew back to Canada a long time ago.
Things take a bit longer here, with a bit of extra work, no big deal and I need to poke a bit of fun at it.
There are worse things in life. ;)
Have you ever read this ladies story on how she got her car licensed in South Africa?
Now THAT is a story!!! LoL!
2 Summers – An American in quirky Johannesburg.