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The immatriculation is a vehicle (truck, car, camper, motorbike etc.) registration. The details of a vehicle's registration are carried in the Certificat d'immatriculation (certificate of registration, previously known as the carte grise, grey card).
The certificat d'immatriculation (carte grise) or registration document identifies:
The certificat d'immatriculation is specific to the vehicle and its owner. When a car is bought or sold, the new ownership must be registered within one month of the transfer and a new certificat d'immatriculation will be issued to the new owner. Paperwork is handled by the Préfecture or Sous-Préfecture and in some cases, by the local mairie.
Some car dealers are authorised to handle the registration of the car, provide a registration number, and temporary registration certificate (certificat provisoire d'immatriculation, CPI), as well as transfer the registration order directly to the authorities. The certificat d'immatriculation is sent by registered mail directly to the vehicle owner. The service is not free of charge.
The certificat d'immatriculation should be carried in the car at all times. It can be asked during a police check or at a customs border control.
A foreign registered car imported to France will need to go through a conforming process before being eligible for registration and a certificat d'immatriculation.
France adopted a new, nationwide vehicle registration system in 2009. This is the Système d'Immatriculation des Véhicules (SIV). The term "Carte Grise" no longer applies; the registration document is now called the certificat d'immatriculation.
A vehicle owner who does not change address nor sell/buy a car need not change the vehicle registration plates of their vehicles.
Regional vehicle taxes remain unchanged.
50cc motorbikes are included in the system and new mopeds are issued with the SIV number.
In order to protect the integrity of a classic car, the white on black number plate may be used, but must (if changing hands) display the new SIV number. Further changes are coming into effect regarding registration and ownership of classic cars, including requirements for obligatory roadworthy checks (contrôle technique).
The plates have seven identifying letters and numbers in black on a white background. The format is: two letters - three numbers - two letters.
It is possible to file a SORN (Statutory off Road Notification) when a vehicle is being modified or restored. During this time the car may not be driven, nor towed, on public roads. If a Déclaration de retrait de la circulation d'un véhicule is made for a just-bought car, it is not necessary to register it.
The declaration is simple and free of charge: the form Cerfa n°13756*02 and registration documents (if applicable) should be provided to the préfecture or the sous-préfecture.
To scrap a vehicle it is necessary to take it to an approved VHU. The local préfecture can provide a list of these. The following documents will need to be presented:
The VHU will provide a certificat de destruction and send a copy to the préfecture.
This is free of charge, provided the car is left at the VHU.
Inform the préfecture within 15 days, by providing:
Deliver in person or by mail to the préfecture or sous-préfecture responsible for vehicle scrapping in the region.
The insurance company should also be informed, and the insurance cancelled.