In France, getting a driver’s licence is a step-by-step process that makes sure you know how to drive safely. This guide outlines the necessary steps to obtain a driver’s licence in France.

To apply for a French driving licence and exchange your foreign one, here are the main things you need to do:

  1. Eligibility:
  • Your foreign driving licence must meet certain conditions to be exchanged.
  • It should be valid.
  • It must be issued by a country where you had a primary residence for at least six months (185 days minimum) per calendar year. If you were in France for studies, training, internship, or a fixed-term mission, your primary residence is considered in France.
  • Your foreign licence should come from a country with a reciprocal permit exchange agreement with France.
  • It should either be in French or accompanied by an official translation that is either legalized or apostilled if done abroad or provided by an authorized translator if done in France.
  1. Additional Conditions:
  • It would be best to meet certain conditions, including being of the minimum driving age for the equivalent vehicle category in France.
  • Your main residence should be in France.
  • You need a valid residence permit if you are neither European nor French.
  • You should have passed the driving test in the country where you had your primary residence when you got your licence.
  • You should follow any medical prescriptions mentioned on your licence, such as wearing glasses if required.
  1. Categories of French Driving Licences:
  • There are different categories for French driving licences based on the type of vehicle you want to drive. These categories include motorcycles, cars, trucks, buses, and more.
  • Your foreign licence will be exchanged for the equivalent category in France.

4 . Special Requirements for Elderly Drivers:

  • Elderly drivers may need to undergo periodic medical tests, especially after reaching 75 and 80 years of age.
  • These tests may result in certain limitations, such as driving only automatic vehicles or wearing glasses.
  • If medical conditions make safe driving impossible, the licence may be cancelled.

It’s important to note that Brexit has also affected the validity of UK driving licences in France, with licences obtained before 2021 still being recognized.

Always check with the relevant authorities and consult the latest information to ensure you meet all the requirements for exchanging your foreign driving licence for a French one.

To get a French driving licence, you first need to finish driving school and pass two tests: a written one about the rules of the road and a practical one where you drive a car. You must answer 40 questions and at least 35 correct answers for the written test to pass. After passing this test, you can start taking driving lessons. You must complete at least 20 hours of these lessons before taking the practical driving test.

Getting a driving licence in France

To get an independent driver’s licence, you must be 18 and take at least 20 hours of driving lessons. After that, when you’ve cleared the theory and practical driving tests, you or your driving school (auto école) can apply for the licence online using a Harmonized Prefectural Registration Number

Documents to provide include:

  • Proof of identity (e.g., your ID card)
  • Proof of residence, no older than six months (e.g., with Justif’Adresse or a recent utility bill)
  • Recent photo (in digital from an ANTS-authorized photographer or paper format)
  • Driving Licence Examination Certificate (Certificat d’Examen au permis de conduire – CEPC) to prove you passed the practical driving test
  • If you are a non-EU/EFTA national, your residence card
  • If you are under 21, a Level 2 School Road Safety Certificate (Attestation Scolaire de Sécurité Routière de niveau 2 – ASSR2) or Road Safety Certificate (Attestation de Sécurité Routière – ASR)

Applying for a first driving permit is free and takes about five working days to be processed.

Driving under 18 in France

It is also possible to start driving lessons at an earlier age. You can begin to follow driving instructions as early as 15 and take the practical test at age 17. If successful, you’ll have earned your CEPC. This certificate represents a valid driver’s licence for four months.

However, remember that under-18-year-olds can only get behind the wheel when accompanied by a guardian or supervisor. The accompanying person must have had a permit for at least five years and take out additional car insurance.

Beginner’s driving licence

During the first three years, new drivers will have a probationary driver’s permit and must have an A-sign on the rear of their vehicle. This beginner’s permit starts with six points and will get two more yearly issues. So:

During the first year of your licence, 6 points Total points

During the second year –  8 points

During the third year  – 10 points

During the fourth year  – 12 points

As said before, traffic violations can result in you losing points. If you fail at least three points at the same time, you must undergo a mandatory Road Safety Awareness Course.

After three years, your probationary licence will upgrade automatically to a regular one.


Driving lessons in France

By law, you must take at least 20 hours of driving lessons. If you drive a manual stick, and 13 hours if you drive an automatic transmission. First-time drivers might also need additional driving lessons; in 2020, students required an average of 35 classes before taking the practical exam.

Driving lessons are quite expensive in France. Hourly rates for lessons range from €40 to €60 an hour. Some driving schools also offer fixed-price packages that include a set number of lessons (but require double pay when there is overtime). When choosing your school, you should always look at the success rate.

On average, students paid between €1234 and €2000 for their French driver’s licence (2023).

You can get a €500 benefit to help finance your driving permit if you are an apprentice. For more information, visit the French government website.

Driving tests in France

To get your driver’s permit, you must pass a driving theory (épreuve théorique générale commune – ETG) and practical test (épreuve pratique). Aspiring drivers with disabilities or certain health conditions might also need to take a medical exam with a registered doctor. The medical advice is valid for two years.

French driving tests are quite tricky, with only 59.2% of applicants passing the practical exam on the first try. Interestingly, 62.5% of men and 54.4% of women earned their driving licences in 2021.

Driving theory exam

The driving theory test, commonly known as the Code, consists of 40 multiple-choice questions covering traffic laws and road safety rules.

Your driving school will give you the official Driving Instructions learning booklet; alternatively, you can download it from the French government website. You must always keep this booklet in your car while you’re learning.

Once you’re ready, you can schedule a date, time, and place for the exam on the ANTS website or the website of France’s postal service, La Poste.

Driving theory tests are conducted digitally using tablets at the test centre. Questions will appear on the screen and will be read aloud. The exam takes approximately 30 minutes, and you must correctly answer at least 35 questions to pass. You can find example questions online, for example, at Le Permis Libre.

The results will be online within 48 hours:

  • You can retake the exam after two days if it’s a fail. The number of times you try is unlimited.
  • If it’s a pass, you have five years to take the practical exam and get your driver’s permit.


  1. Categories of French Driving Licences:
  • AM – mopeds
  • A1, A2, A – motorcycles
  • B – personal cars
  • C – small trucks
  • D – motor vehicles that can transport up to 8 people
  1. Category B – Standard Car Licence:

This is the most common category and allows you to drive standard cars with a maximum authorized mass (MAM) not exceeding 3.5 tonnes and up to 8 passenger seats.

Test Pattern:

The Theory Test, also known in French as Examen du Code de la Route, consists of a written exam with 40 multiple-choice questions. To pass, you must answer at least 35 questions correctly.

Practical Driving Test (Examen de Conduite): A road test where you demonstrate your driving skills. It includes various manoeuvres and on-road driving. You must pass this test to get a Category B licence.

  1. Category A – Motorcycle Licence:

This category allows you to ride motorcycles of varying engine sizes and types, depending on subcategories such as A1, A2, and A.

Test Pattern: 

Theory Test: Similar to the Category B theory test, it includes questions about motorcycle safety and regulations.

Practical Riding Test: You demonstrate your motorcycle riding skills, including manoeuvring and safe riding on the road.

  1. Category C – Truck Licence:

This category is for driving trucks with a maximum authorized mass exceeding 3.5 tonnes.

Test Pattern:

Theory Test: Similar to the Category B theory test but with additional questions about truck-specific regulations.

Practical Driving Test: You demonstrate your ability to handle a truck, including manoeuvres and on-road driving.

  1. Category D – Bus and Coach Licence:

This category allows you to drive buses and coaches designed for passenger transport.

Test Pattern:

Theory Test: Similar to the Category B theory test with additional questions related to passenger transport regulations.

Practical Driving Test: You demonstrate your skills in driving large passenger vehicles safely.

  1. Category AM – Mopeds and Light Scooters:

This category is for riding mopeds and light scooters with an engine capacity of up to 50cc.

Test Pattern:

Theory Test: A simplified version of the Category B theory test focusing on two-wheel vehicle safety.

The process for obtaining a French driving licence consists of two main components: a theory test (examen du code de la route) and a practical driving test (examen pratique du permis).

  1. Theory Test (Examen du Code de la Route):

The theory test in France assesses your knowledge about road rules and regulations, traffic signs and their indications, and safe driving practices through a written exam.

Test Format:

The exam consists of multiple-choice questions.

There are typically 40 questions in the test.

Getting a passing score by getting a minimum number of correct answers would be easy, usually around 35 out of 40.


Questions cover various topics, including road signs, right of way, speed limits, and different driving scenarios.

The questions may also relate to specific driving real-life situations, such as driving in adverse hot weather conditions.


Many individuals prepare for the theory test by enrolling in a driving school offering lessons and practice tests.

There are also study materials and apps available to help you prepare.

  1. Practical Driving Test:

The practical driving test helps you evaluate and understand your ability to operate a vehicle on the road safely.

Test Format:

The test typically includes both off-road manoeuvres and on-road driving.