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Buying Insuring a car in France but live in USA

I have been digging around your site (and the internet) looking for the answer to following issue.
We have purchased a house in France that we will be using as a vacation home, but maintaining our status as USA residents. We were told by our soon to be housing insurance agent that if we own a car in France, in order to insure it we need to have a French drivers license, and that France demands that we hand over our USA license.
I have not seen anything to back that up, but I would like to get to the bottom of this.
Can a USA citizen buy a car and insure it in France without a French license?

Posted by
412 posts

You can drive for up to a year in France with a U.S. Driver’s License. After that, you need to get a French driver’s license. France allows some US state’s driver’s licenses to be valid as a French license providing the application is made 90 days before one year of residency has occurred.
It’s actually a privilege as it spares the new French resident the bureaucratic gauntlet involved in obtaining a French driver’s license. This is due to a reciprocal agreement between the states of Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Illinois, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Hampshire, Michigan, Kansas, South Carolina, Delaware, Ohio and Virginia which honor French driver’s licenses in those states.
The U.S. Embassy website has details of licensure and Insurance requirements of US citizens living in France 🇫🇷 at fr.usembassy.gov

Posted by
269 posts

The short answer to this question:

Can a USA citizen buy a car and insure it in France without a French license?

...is yes.

I know because I did it several years ago. My auto insurance was through my bank (BNP Paribas), which also has an insurance arm -- so there was an existing relationship. That may have made things easier, or not. Your mileage, as they say, may vary with another insurer.

They photocopied my U.S. license, I had to get a statement from the state in the U.S. where I was licensed to check for violations, and that was it.

One key difference with you was that I was living and working in France, so I was a French tax resident, but I don't recall that matter arising as a factor. I subsequently went through the written and driving test to get my French license because my state has no reciprocity agreement with France.

If you seek to get a license through reciprocity, I would imagine that you would have to surrender your U.S. license as part of the arrangement. My U.S. license, now expired, is in a drawer somewhere at my house.