N.B. THIS POST IS CURRENTLY BEING UPDATED (all information is correct but the on-line procedure is not described)
A driver licence issued by a country outside France is only recognised for one year once the person acquires “normal residence” in France, normal residence being defined as the place in which you live for at least six months (185 days) a year due to professional or personal attachments. If you are a foreign student in France, however, you can drive with your non-European licence during your studies.
Where to apply?
Since 4th August all applications are on-line at https://permisdeconduire.ants.gouv.fr/Actualites/Echange-de-permis-etranger-faites-votre-demande-en-ligne
To qualify, your licence must be valid and issued by the country in which you had normal residence at the time.
If you have an existing driver’s licence that is less than three years old then your newly issued French licence will also be a probationary one until a three-year period has elapsed.
When to apply?
The deadlines are as follows:
1st carte de séjour : Less than one year after your card was issued
Visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour: Less than one year after the date of validation by OFII.
N.B. If the deadline for filing your application was between 12th March 2020 and 23rd June 2020, you have until 23rd September to file your application via the on-line procedure.
It’s best to start the process a couple of months ahead of time as some documents may require a little time to acquire.
What do I need?
An Australian driving record or traffic history and a driver licence
First you will need an Australian driving record or traffic history, which is normally only available to the driver themselves. It can be ordered on-line but must be sent to an Australian address usually the last one on record. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to officially change your address to an address in Australia where the record can be sent. The system is different for each state. All the relevant links are given at the end of this post.
Translation into French
You will then need to have your licence and driving record/history translated by a court-certified translator. The official list can be found on the Court de Cassation website https://www.courdecassation.fr/informations_services_6/experts_judiciaires_8700.html#experts.
This is the official list of certified translators in France. All other lists are usually agencies in disguise. Translation agencies cannot be certified themselves, only the individual translators who carry out the work which is usually outsourced.
You can have the translation carried out by a translator living anywhere in France. There are no fixed prices for certified translations in France so they can vary considerably. You will need to take your licence and history to the translator in person or send them a good quality scan by email or a colour photocopy by post. A good quality scan means that it must be done with a scanner/photocopier and not a phone unless you have a special app.
Translators usually ask to be paid in advance by bank transfer, PayPal, etc. The translation is sent back by post. I personally prefer the “lettre suivie” solution. A sticker costs about 40 centimes and means you can track the letter which will be deposited in your mail box and not have to be collected at the post office if you’re not home, like a registered letter (lettre recommandée) does.
What happens next?
After your application is examined, you will be systematically asked to provide your original licence.
You will be contacted by the authority concerned and issued a certificate of secure deposit (ADS) for your Australian driver licence.
You can use the ADS to drive while waiting for your French licence to issued, within the limit of the date of expiration of your Australian licence.
How long will it take?
The processing time will vary according to the complexity of your application and mainly depends on how long it takes to check your right to drive (driving history).
How can you track your application?
You can write an email or phone CERT de Nantes – Suivi de l’échange du permis de conduire
By email : cert-pc-epe-44-usagersEPE@interieur.gouv.fr
By phone : 02 55 58 49 00
If you move during the process
Email the above address, together with a pdf version of proof of domicile and the ADS (i.e. interim licence) or, if you haven’t received the ADS, your birth name, given names, date of birth and nationality of the licence.
The French licence is then posted to your home address.
What sort of licence will I get?
The licence is not probationary unless the original licence is less than 3 years old.
The issue date indicated on the licence is the issue date of the French licence. The licence is valid for 15 years from the issue date (except when a medical check-up is needed, for drives of HGVs for example).
If you would like me to translate your documents (I am certified as a translator by the Orléans Court of Appel and live in France), you can phone 06 76 41 99 43 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. To know more about me professionally, you can check out my website www.kneipp-traduction.com.
All information taken from the official government site https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1460, verified in august 2020.