International driving licence

Whether or not your French driving licence is valid while you are abroad will depend on your host country.
Although regulations have been harmonised across Europe, this is not the case in other countries.
Before you leave, find out if and how you can use your French driving licence abroad or how to obtain an international driving licence.


Since 1st July 1996, you are no longer required to exchange your French licence for a local one.
Your French driving licence is valid in all Member States of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA).

You can drive in European countries with your French driving licence regardless of the duration of your stay.

  • The European Union (EU) has had 27 Member States since 1st January 2007:  Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus (Greek part), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK
  • Countries of the European Economic Area (EEA): Member States of the European Union + Iceland + Liechtenstein + Norway


Outside Europe, you may be allowed to drive on a temporary basis (from 3 months to 1 year depending on the country) with either:
- your French driving licence,
- an international driving licence.

We recommend you check with the Embassy or Consulate of your host country before you leave. They will tell you if your French driving licence or your French international driving licence is valid in your host country.

In some cases, the French driving licence can be exchanged for a local one. It depends if there is a reciprocal agreement between France and your host country.

If there is no reciprocal agreement, you will have to take the local theory and practical driving tests.


The French driving licence is not valid in many countries outside Europe.

It is therefore advisable to obtain an international driving licence.

The procedure for applying for an international licence at the prefecture or sub-prefecture of your home is relatively simple.

Documents required:
- your national driving licence,
- proof of identity,
- two recent, identical photos
- possibly, proof of address (receipt, water or electricity bill, rental agreement etc.) as international driving licences are only issued to persons with a home or residence in France.

An international driving licence is valid for three years and is free of charge. You must always keep your French licence because, without it, the international driving licence has no value.

Date of publication April 13, 2012

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