Citroen model car in front of French Driver License permis de conduire
Life in Paris & France

Driving in France – what kind of driver license is necessary?

Citroen model car in front of French Driver License permis de conduireFrance and the United States (and other countries) have an agreement about exchanging driver licenses.

For a short visit (ninety days or under), it might be required and is advisable to obtain an international driver license. Check with AAA in the United States about obtaining this before you leave for France. If you plan to live or stay in France, other directives apply.

The current rules about using your United States driver license can be read on the Department of State and French public service websites.

The U.S. Department of State Travel.State.Gov page provides Road Safety Overseas information. I recommend that you scroll down and click on the link  “US Embassy or consulate” in their post. On the next page, choose France and put the words “driver license” in their search box. Numerous documents are listed about driving in various areas of France. The Toulouse document, for example, says the following:

…”If you are a temporary visitor to France (less than 90 days,) you may drive with a valid U.S. driver’s license. In addition to having your U.S. driver’s license, visitors are strongly advised to carry an International Driving permit, or attach a French translation to their U.S. driver’s license…”.

As a reference to the other side of the coin, the official French public service administration website has information on using a driver license that is issued outside the EU.

The latest information on the Service “Transport/Permis de conduire page is entitled “Driving in France from a country outside the European Union (UE)”. This is an excerpt:

“Conduire en France avec un permis hors Union européenne
Mis à jour le 29.04.2010 par Direction de l’information légale et administrativ-Utilisation du permis national sous certaines conditions

Tout titulaire d’un permis de conduire délivré par un Etat extérieur à l’Union européenne (UE) ou à l’Espace économique européen (EEE) peut l’utiliser pendant une durée d’un an à compter de la date d’acquisition de sa résidence habituelle en France, s’il remplit certaines conditions…”.

I have highlighted the important words: permis=driver license; exterieur= outside; and peut l’utiliser= can use use it (for a year). Google Translate will help.

To have any documents, including your driver license translated to French, the Paris U.S. Embassy Citizen Services page provides more details.

Additional Information

MFE Maison des Français de l’Etranger

USA States with exchange rights for a French passport:
Arkansas, South Carolina, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia

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This Web site and and its blog articles are for travelers to Paris who are looking for advice from someone who lives in Paris. These tips are "for Parisians at heart". Many people would like to visit, some can and some cannot - so I will help you enjoy a glimpse of the city and its surroundings. This project has been ongoing since 2002. Prior to living in Paris (since 1992) my European history began in the early 70s with three years in Wiesbaden, Germany. My next foray onto the Continent was in the mid-80s after graduation from the University of Florida (where I met Erik): traveling around Europe and UK with my friend, Margie, hitchhiking around and working in Ireland. After living and working as a journalist in Sweden for four years, traveling on boats, the Trans-Siberian Railway, local trains and planes took Erik and I around the world. I began working as a flight attendant in 1990 for American Airlines, based in Chicago. We moved to Paris, France in 1992 where I commuted between Paris and Chicago for my flight attendant/stewardess job. Finally my inner voice said "Stop!" and I left American Airlines six weeks shy of 20 years January 1, 2010. Now that is over and I am back working as a journalist and photographer full time on - My videos are posted on YouTube on the colleensparis youtube channel. and I am active in Toastmasters 75. Enjoy!