Exchanging an Australian driver licence for a French licence

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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?

All applications are on-line at https://permisdeconduire.ants.gouv.fr/Actualites/Echange-de-permis-etranger-faites-votre-demande-en-ligne See instructions below

Who qualifies?

To qualify, your licence must be valid and issued by the country in which you had normal residence at the time. You cannot apply to have your licence to be exchanged if it is currently suspended, withdrawn or cancelled. 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.

What about a motorcycle licence?

An update on the French government website at the end of January 2021 unfortunately provides the information that it is not possible to obtain an open motorbike licence (permis moto A) through an exchange. A restricted motorbike licence (permis moto A2) only will be issued (a power output of less than 35 kW). To be upgraded to an open licence, you are required to have 2 years of practice and 7 hours of additional training with a driving school. Unfortunately, there is no way of getting around this as it applies to all French motorbike licences.

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. 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 driver licence
  • An Australian driving record or traffic history 
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.
  • A passport photo
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of residency

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 pdf ready for uploading on the ANTS website.

On-line application process

All applications are now made on-line at https://permisdeconduire.ants.gouv.fr/Actualites/Echange-de-permis-etranger-faites-votre-demande-en-ligne 1/ Register on the website 2/ Follow the steps (you can use Google Translate to help you)) 3/ Photo: You will need an approved passport photo. This can be obtained in most photo booths (see complete list for Photomaton on https://reseau.photomaton.fr/. You can also use a photo app: https://freeappsforme.com/passport-photo-apps/ 4/ Proof of address:  The most common documents are your phone bill or electricity bill. You can also ask your landlord to write a letter saying that you are being hosted by them (lettre d’hébergement). Don’t forget to include the date you arrived. The person should say you have been continuously living with them since a specific date. You will need a copy of their ID. 5/ Proof of residency: You can use your “titre de séjour”, stamps in your passport, a letter from your landlord, lease receipts, a letter from the town hall in small towns, or anything else that will prove you have been living in France for the specified amount of time. One of the easiest ways to prove residency is to register with the Australian Embassy on your arrival in France. N.B. If you are applying for a motorbike or HR licence, make sure you fill in the form correctly.  It seems that the authorities are reluctant to issue exchanges for these categories.

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 be issued, but only up until the date of expiry 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

Send an email to 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).

Special note about UK licences

Since 1st January, certain rules about driving in France have changed: If you were a resident in France before 1st January 2021, your licence will be valid for one year from that date, i.e. 1st January 2022. If you started living in France after 1st January 2021, your licence will be recognized for one year from the date of your arrival.

If you would like me to translate your documents (I am certified as a translator by the Orléans Court of Appeal and live in France), you can phone 06 76 41 99 43 or write to kneipp@kneipp-traduction.com. To know more about me professionally, you can check out my website www.kneipp-traduction.com.

Good luck! All information taken from the official government site https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1460, verified in august 2020.


NSW https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/request-driving-record QLD https://www.service.transport.qld.gov.au/applyformytraffichistory/public/Welcome.xhtml?dswid=-9714 VIC https://billing.vicroads.vic.gov.au/driverhistory SA https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/driving-and-transport/licences/drivers-licence/check-your-driving-history WA http://www.dmp.wa.gov.au/rsd_help/index_2073.aspx TAS https://www.transport.tas.gov.au/registration/information/search_applications ACT https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/app/answers/detail/a_id/1581/~/act-driver-licence-information#!tabs-7 NT https://nt.gov.au/driving/driverlicence/renew,-change-or-update-your-licence/apply-for-your-driver-licence-history
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34 thoughts on “Exchanging an Australian driver licence for a French licence”

  1. Hello, wondering if anyone knows if the driving record or traffic history you download suffices or do you need the original posted copy from the RMS?

    1. Hi, if you are talking about NSW, it seems you need the original one that is posted, annoying as that may be.

    2. Yes, I had the original sent here for my husband’s licence last year, from memory it is more official looking, though I can’t recall how!

  2. Thank you for this information! Very very helpful 🙂
    I have heard that you cannot get your licence back if you exchange it in France and you cannot drive if you come back to Australia.
    Is this true?
    What is the process of getting your Australian licence back and driving again in Australia?

    1. Unfortunately it is true that you don’t get your licence back but you can drive in Australia with your French licence in some states and an international licence or a translation in others.

  3. I lodged all the required paper work on 03/05/2019 and received my French Licence 06/07/2020. I have had an open motorcycle and car licence for over 30 years. Despite this my motorcycle licence was not exchanged directly even though the list of countries that have agreements with France for licence exchange states that for Australia it is both Category A and B. At the moment the categories listed on my French licence are AM and A1 which limits me to riding nothing more than a 125cc. I’m now trying to sort this out as I have had a 1200cc moto here since 2017. This presents a real problem with my motorcycle insurance.
    The thing that concerns me is that the link below says that they haven’t directly exchanged A category licences since 2016. This conflicts with the list mention above.

    1. Hi, I have not come across this before. I’ll check with the people with motorcycle licences for whom I have done translations and get back to you. There is nothing on the loire-atlantique.gouv.fr website that indicates the last time it was updated, as far as I can see.

    2. Hello, I have just come across the same problem. Have you had any luck resolving this issue??
      I lodged 6/19 and received my licence 8/20…

      I came across this article that says we should get category A2, then in 2 years we have to retest, even so i now have a bike that its illegal for me to ride ….


      1. No luck so far but am looking into it. Maybe with the new on-line application it may be possible. You may need to make sure that the translation of the licence and driver history give details about your motorbike licence and what is required to obtain one in Australia.

    3. Hi – I just received my licence also (I lodged in January 2019 and got it October 2020)!! Also, do not have the full moto licence on my French card – this is a huge problem!

  4. Thank you for providing thorough information. Can you clarify on that first initial year regarding the international drivers license? I’ve just arrived in France and hold both an Aussie and a Qatar DL. Is there a specific company or association that France recognises the IDL? Don’t want to pay on a scam website. Thanks in advance

    1. If you don’t have an international licence which you obtained in Australia, you can have your licence translated into French by a certified translator and use that. I would be happy to translate it.

  5. would you advise me how to apply NSW driving record from overseas? I tried but it requires Aus mobile number to verify security code.

  6. I am moving to France in Dec 2020 From Australia. I have applied for my full driving history report from VicRoads who will email it to me. The post says that it must be mailed to and Australian address. Will it being emailed to me be a problem?

    What is the cost of translating it?


  7. Thanks for the informative site. I am already in France and have a similar question – the driving report will be emailed. Will the emailed report be sufficient?

  8. Hi Rosemary,
    I have been having a difficult time
    trying to exchange my Australian driving licence
    to a French one, (2 years) this has been because
    I have a British passport, anyway I have now reached
    the point where they are asking for my original
    licence, but on my online application it is saying
    “ you must download from the ANTS site a certificate of secure deposit of your driving license as well as an accompanying letter that must be attached to your original for your request to be processed “
    I can’t find any such download, am I reading this wrong
    Hope you can help
    Peter Smith

    1. I wonder if you can find the corresponding French text. The translations are not always spot on and I can’t consult it myself if I’m not exchanging a licence.

    1. Hi, you can go on-line to the French website and get it free. https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F11534 then click accès au service en-ligne https://permisdeconduire.ants.gouv.fr/Services-associes/Effectuer-une-demande-de-permis-de-conduire-en-ligne It’s a bit strange, because I expected to see something like “Demander un permis international” but in fact, it’s under “Demander le permis en-ligne”. When you see “Les 5 étapes pour réaliser votre demande de permis de conduire : 1/ Créez votre compte ANTS 2/ Remplissez votre demande en ligne 3/ Validez votre demande 4/ Suivez l’instruction de votre demande 5/ Suivez l’acheminement de votre permis” click on number 2/ votre demande en ligne. It should be easy from then on. It’s free and is valid 3 years so you should get one now while there is no queue! Ours came through in just a couple of weeks.

  9. Hi,

    I have made the application and submitted all the documents I had but I got rejected for not having justification of “residence” or “installation”. I submitted my rental contract but I have Norwegian citizenship so I don’t need a job etc to be here and can’t provide “inscription at the employment office, work contract, rent contract of a commercial shop (bail), first registration the the health office, registration in a school, or certificate issued from the consulate” it took me 4 months to hear back from the process and there isn’t an easy way to reply. Is there some option to just go to the police station with your passport and get a stamp to say I’m here?

  10. Hi Rosemary,

    Thank you so much for your interesting blog. It is also considerably relevant to me! I am Australian, from Tasmania, but also just lived in FNQ for the past two years, in Kuranda, and funnily enough I also live in the Loire Valley now, in Orleans. I moved here 3 months ago, my husband is French. Not my first time living in France, but my first time on a resident visa (my first time was a working holiday visa). My husband and are are 30, he is an ecologist and I am studying to be an English Language teacher. Thank you for your blog, I will read and refer to it a lot in the coming year! I just had a question about transferring my drivers licence as you seem to be very knowledgable about the topic – and thank you for your detailed information on the subject, it has been incredibly helpful! My question is related to my Australian drivers licence expiry date. It expires October 2023 (I only renewed it for a short time because I knew I was moving overseas) so does that mean that when I change it over to the French licence I will be on probationary licence because it is under 3 years? What does this imply? I had the idea to extend my Australian licence to more than 3 years online to avoid being on a probationary licence in France but then maybe it doesn’t really matter. I am wondering what you think and what is your advice/and or experience on this matter. i look forward to your reply. Thank you kindly Rosemary, Noni Hyland

  11. Hi,

    I’m wondering what process I have to go through if I’ve been living in France with a Titre de Sejour for more than 1 year (now 2 1/2 years and only just realised about the rules!!)? I’ve heard I have to pass the full driving test as if I’m a French national applying for a permit for the first time…is this the case? Many thanks.

  12. Aussie motorcycle riders – don’t bother with swapping your license. Your extended visa will probably have expired by the time they issue it to you (3 years in our case).

    The new requirements for 2 years with an A2 license is also poor process – its merely a technical bureaucratic issue that you will not have an A2 license for 2 years on the day the government issues it. It has nothing to do with the decades of experience riding in Australia you may have beforehand., or of the higher standards of training required in Australia.

  13. Hello, I am looking at the WA site for driving history and there seems to be 2 different documents: 1) Certified Copy ofTraffic Infringements; and 2) National Police Certificate.
    Do I need both or is one sufficient?
    All help greatly appreciated.
    Best regards,

    1. Hi, this might be too late but I will check and reply when I get back from holidays next week.

  14. great content. We are about to get on the merry-go-round. We have motorbikes, and this A1 will be an issue as we don’t have a car. We have a year up our sleeve (international licences) but then what? After 2 years can we upgrade for a larger bike category? We’ve been riding for 40 + years.

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