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Buying or Selling a Car

France - Buying or Selling a Car



In order to be able to buy or sell a car in France you need to have what is known as the ‘carte grise’ – the grey card – or the ‘certificat d’immatriculation’, which is another term for the registration documentation. If you do not have this documentation you cannot legally sell a car and you should never buy one if the owner cannot produce this information.

This registration document will contain the vehicle registration number, details of the owner, details of the vehicle and confirm that it complies with European standards. Each document is individual to the owner. If you buy or sell a car you should be aware that you only have one month in which to send the relevant paperwork to the prefecture for the documentation to be transferred to the new owner. You need to be able to produce this information when it is asked for so you should keep it in the car at all times.

If you are selling a used car then the procedure is fairly straightforward. The documentation that you need can be downloaded from the website of the prefecture and completed by hand if you prefer. You must pass on to the buyer the ‘certificat d’immatriculation barrée’, which is the registration documentation with the date of sale added by the seller. You must also give them the ‘certificat de situation administrative’ which confirms that there has been no loan taken out against the vehicle. You should also give them the ‘déclaration de cession’ which is a transfer document. The buyer has a copy of this, the seller keeps another and the final copy is given to the prefecture. The ‘contrôle technique’ is the vehicle inspection certificate and this is the final piece of documentation that should be passed on.

A buyer should check that the series number which is stamped on the car matches the details which are given in the vehicle registration documents. You should also check that the person selling the car is in fact the registered owner of the vehicle. Do not take possession of the vehicle unless the seller has provided all the documentation listed above.

You will then need to register the car as yours. For this you will require proof of ID, which may be your passport, a French driving licence or your ‘carte de séjour’. You will also need proof of residence which could be a utility bill that is in your name, tenancy agreement or insurance documentation relating to your home. You should have the completed ‘certificat d’immatriculation’ as provided by the seller and the other documentation. You should also ensure that you have the funds to pay the registration fee. Every prefecture is different and not all will accept a credit card or cheque so you need to verify this in advance of your visit.

It is now possible to register a used car via the post or online. The new ‘certificat d’immatriculation’ has a detachable section which can be used to do this. You can register a vehicle and request the new number plates within 48 hours. Alternatively you can register the vehicle by post by sending all the paperwork to your prefecture, the fee and a stamped addressed envelope. By keeping the detachable section of the documentation you are still able to drive the vehicle.

Cost varies depending upon the region and the engine size of the car. You will need to check these details with the prefecture prior to your visit or sending the paperwork.

It may be that when you have purchased a new car you need to have an old one scrapped. In order to do this you must sell the car to an approved scrap merchant and they can only destroy the car when the ownership transfer has been completed. The original owner must complete the form ‘déclaration de cession’ or the ‘cession pour destruction d’un véhicule’. The date of transfer must be written on the form and you should keep the detachable part of the form. The rest of the form should be given to the scrap merchant. You send the detached part to the prefecture along with the declaration form and this must be done within 15 days. The scrap merchant must provide proof that he is in receipt of the vehicle. The registration of the vehicle is then cancelled and the car can be destroyed.

French people are very fond of their own manufacturers and cars such as Citroen and Peugeot are often seen on the roads.




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