Just ask any French person and they will tell you that the administration in France is very heavy and if you don’t know what you are doing it can be complicated, long and frustrating.

Here are a few pointers for smoothly buying and selling a vehicule in France.

If you are selling a car, it needs to have a valid C.T. (contr̫le technique) that is dated no later than 6 months Рif you are buying a vehicule, you need to ensure that this is the case too.

All new vehicules need to pass the C.T. 6 months before the vehicule is 4 years old, then every two years.

The C.T. is carried out in registered centres throughout France and the prices are freely set, so there are sometimes slight variations from centre to centre.

Some centres, where a C.T. has been refused due to work that needs to be carried ou, will not charge for the return visit “Contre visite”.

The C.T. is similar to the British M.O.T. – a certificate of road worthiness, and is either “OK” or “Vièrge” :

If you see an advert for a car with “C.T. OK” it means that there could be some non-urgent work to do on the car before it passes another C.T.

If it is “C.T. vièrge” this means that the car has passed with flying colours and needs no work

If you are selling

You need to get a “certificate de non-gage” which basically attests to the fact that the car is yours and does not belong to a credit or leasing company or to anyone else – you can get this document either on line, here:  Demande en ligne de certificat de non-gage or from the machines in La Préfécture. You will also need this certificate when you sell a car.

You will need a C.T., as mentioned above.

You will need 3 copies of the “Changement du titulaire” document, one which you retain (if you are selling the vehicule), another for the buyer and one for La Préfecture.

This document is available at the préfecture or online here, Pré-demande en ligne de changement de titulaire de carte grise

Don’t forget your cheque, if sending by post or your bank card or cheque book if applying in person at la préfecture.

If you don’t want to send the documents by post, you can also take them to your local Mairie, where they will send the documents off and notify you when they are returned – they may also give you a temporary document as a justification that everything is in order, just in case you are stopped by a Gendarme.

If you opt to do the above by post, you can follow the process to see where your new Carte Grise is online here - Où en est votre carte grise ?

When you buy a new or used vehicule from a garage, they will take care of the process for you – there are now, chains of garages who will do this for you, even if you haven’t bought the vehicule from them, for a fee, of course.

When selling a vehicule, you will need a “Certificat de Cession”, you must draw two diagonal lines across the carte Grise and mention in between these lines “Vendue le + date” followed by your signature (or the sellers signature).

It may be prudent to mention, on the “Carte Grise” and “Certificate de Vente” the time when the vehicule was sold, just in case the buyer later has an accident or gets flashed by a radar on the same day – this is proof that it was the new buyer and not you who was responsible for any infractions.

this will read as “Vendue le 29 féfrier 2011, à 11h35” – it’s just a boot-and-bracers way of ensuring a safe and seamless sale or purchase.

It is also a good idea when buying a second-hand vehicule – if the seller tells you that it has never been involved in an accident, to get this in writing on the “document de vente” with a sentence “Véhicule non-accidenté” – this then at least gives you legal proof, if later you find that the vehicule was indeed involved in an accident to fight your case.

So, just to recap, when you go to register your vehicule that you have just bought, you will need:

  • Identity – a passport or other official document.
  • Proof of residence dated less than 3 months (a utility bill etc. with your name and address)
  • The “Certificate de Cession” filled out and signed by the last owner of the vehicule.
  • The Carte Grise barred with two diagonal lines with “Vendue le …”, dated and signed by the last owner
  • The “certificat de non-gage” dated less than one month old.
  • If the vehicule is more than 4 years old, a valid Contrôle Technique certificate, dated less than 6 months old.
  • A “Demande d’immatriculation” filled out by the new owner.
  • A cheque or a bank card to pay with.

If you follow these steps and have all of the necessary documents – it will be simplicity itself – oh, and if you are going to the prefecture in person, don’t forget a book to occupy yourself with or an iPad to read the This is France blog, while you are awaiting your turn.

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