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International Driver's License In France: Hassle-Free Car Renting

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IDP is essential when driving abroad

driving abroad with idp

International Driving Permit (IDP), regulated by the United Nations, certifies that you are the holder of a valid driver's license in your country of origin.

documents needed for international driving permit

Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world.

How to get your IDP

01

Fill in the forms

Have your driver’s license and delivery address handy

02

Verify your ID

Upload pictures of your driver's license

03

Get approved

Wait for confirmation and you’re ready to go!

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Get Ready for Your Trip to France

Planning to go on a road trip through the picturesque landscapes of France? Before you rev up your engine, ensure you're well-versed in the ins and outs of driving in this captivating country.

Our International Driving Permit FAQs cover everything you need to know, from the necessity of an IDP to crucial driving rules and top destinations to explore. Let's dive in!

International Driving Permit FAQs

Is an International Driving Permit required in France?

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is not mandatory for driving in France. However, it's strongly advised, especially if you visit neighboring countries like Spain, Andorra, Monaco, and Italy, where it is often required.

The IDP is an official translation of your native driver's license and can be crucial in overcoming language barriers. It's also valuable as an identification document during police checks. Moreover, French car rental agencies might request an IDP as part of their policy.

How to get an International Driving License for France?

It's important to note that there's no authorized body for issuing an "International Driving License." The correct term is "International Driving Permit."

You can apply for an IDP on our website by completing the application form, uploading a valid driver's license from your home country, and providing two passport-sized photos. The process is swift, with approvals typically within 2 hours.

Is A Native Driver's License Enough to Drive in France?

For European license holders, driving in France is permissible using their existing license. Since 2013, all EU member states and the European Economic Area have issued a standardized European driving license valid throughout the EU and EEA.

Non-European licenses are also accepted in France, provided they are unrestricted and not suspended. The license must be issued from the country where you've resided for at least six months.

What do I do in case of car accidents?

In accidents, exchange insurance information, use hazard lights, set up warning triangles, and fill out an accident report ("constat amiable"). Contact your insurance company immediately.

Traveling with an International Driving Permit (IDP) in France is advisable, as it is a translation of your native license, necessary in interactions with French-speaking officials.

What should I do during police stops and checkpoints?

During police stops, slow down, use hazard lights, communicate with the officer, present identification, and follow further instructions.

  • Slow down towards the side of the road, then stop your car.
  • Turn on your hazard lights.
  • Communicate with the police officer about the reason for stopping you.
  • Present your identification card, whether it's for an ID check or a violation.
  • Wait for further instructions.
  • Cooperate with the authorities when asked to be spoken with at the precinct.

Most Important Driving Rules in France

Although both France and the United Kingdom are in Europe, their driving styles differ significantly. However, you'll find that driving in France is quite similar to driving in the USA. Below is a short guide and insights into France's driving regulations, standard driving practices, and valuable tips to enhance your driving experience.

For a more comprehensive read, check out our France Driving Guide.

What are the required documents for driving in France?

Driving License Requirements

In the European Union and European Economic Areas, a valid driving license from your home country is generally sufficient to drive since 2013. This also applies to non-European licenses, provided they're unrestricted.

For U.S. drivers in France, it's advisable to have a translated version of your license, information on which can be obtained from the French embassy or the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Passport Requirements

As a visitor in France, carrying your passport is mandatory for identification purposes, especially during police stops or when renting vehicles.

What is the standard guide for driving in France?

Eligibility

To drive in France, you must be at least 18 years old and possess a valid driver's license. Even if your home country allows driving at a younger age, this rule is strictly enforced in France. Being mentally and physically fit to go is also essential.

Speed limit

The general speed limit in France is 130 km/h on highways, 80 km/h on main roads, and 50 km/h in urban areas.

Seat Belts and Child Restraint Laws

Seat belts are compulsory for both drivers and passengers, with particular attention to ensuring children under 18 are appropriately restrained.

Light Traffic Rules

French traffic lights might switch directly from red to green, bypassing amber. A flashing amber light signals proceed cautiously if the road is clear, while a flashing red light signifies "no entry." A yellow arrow with a flashing red light allows proceeding in the arrow's direction with caution.

Horn Usage

Horns are for essential caution and restricted to certain times, mainly from sunset to sunrise. Their use is prohibited in built-up areas except in emergencies.

Right of Way

In France, the standard rule is to drive on the right side. At intersections, vehicles from the right have the right of way unless indicated otherwise. This rule also applies to roundabouts.

Overtaking

Overtaking is typically done on the left. However, overtaking on the right is permitted in particular traffic conditions, but caution is advised.

Alcohol Influence

The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05% for private drivers and 0.02% for bus, coach, and new drivers with less than three years of experience.

Parking

Road signs indicate parking rules. Illegal parking can lead to towing and fines.

Tolls

Toll fees vary by distance and vehicle type and can be calculated using the Association of French Motorway Companies (ASFA) website.

Fines and Confiscations

Violations like failing to stop for police, driving without a license or insurance, excessive speeding, DUI, hit and runs, or driving with an incorrect license category can result in fines or vehicle confiscation. These violations occur during the following instances:

  • If you do not stop during a police contrĂŽle (being stopped or checked by police)
  • When driving without a license or insurance
  • Exceeding the speed limit by over 50 km/h
  • Multiple offenses of driving under the influence of alcohol
  • During hit-and-run situations
  • When driving a vehicle with the wrong license category, which does not cover that vehicle

Breakdowns

Use emergency phones for breakdown assistance on freeways. You cannot call your own assistance company for help because freeways in France are privately managed.

Dial 112 in the absence of an emergency phone. You will be towed and charged accordingly.

Top Destinations in France for Road Trippers

France, a country celebrated for its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage, is a paradise for road trippers. From the iconic cityscapes of Paris, with landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum, to the gastronomic delights of Lyon, the birthplace of cinema and a haven for food enthusiasts, France offers an array of unforgettable experiences.

Wine lovers can indulge in the world-class vineyards of Bordeaux, while those seeking a blend of sun, sea, and elegance can head to Nice on the French Riviera. Each destination in France presents a unique journey, filled with historical sites, charming villages, and picturesque countryside, perfect for exploring at your own pace by car.

Paris

Paris, a dream destination for first-timers and seasoned travelers, is famed for landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame de Paris. Additionally, the city offers gems like Musée d'Orsay, Luxembourg Gardens, and Le Marais. For those intrigued by the macabre, the Catacombes de Paris offers a unique blend of history and architecture.

Paris offers the freedom to create your adventure or opt for guided tours. From shopping to museum hopping, exploring various districts, or enjoying classic operas, driving around Paris provides a liberating experience.

Lyon

Lyon, the birthplace of cinema known as the "Capital of Lights," offers a thrilling experience, especially during December.

Recognized as the world's gastronomy capital since 1935, Lyon boasts fine dining, prestigious markets, Lyonnaise specialties, and unique Bouchon restaurants. It's also known for its culinary legends, like the late 3-Michelin-Star chef Paul Bocuse.

Bordeaux

Bordeaux is a renowned wine production hub, second only to Burgundy in France. Beyond its viticulture, Bordeaux is also a shopper's paradise.

Wine enthusiasts will find Bordeaux irresistible with its wine tours and tastings. Explore the city's cultural side by visiting its neo-classical opera houses, theaters, and art galleries. Don't miss the local specialty, canelĂ©s—a small, rum-flavored custard cake with a caramelized crust—widely available at bakeries throughout the city, especially near Quays Market.

Nice

Nice, a prime summer destination, is known for its sunny weather and beaches along the French Riviera.

The city's beauty is more than just "nice"; it's stunning. Wander along the waterfront, soak in the Mediterranean breeze, and admire the colorful buildings, grand fountains, and cathedral.

Get an IDP to Explore France

Enjoy a more personal and intimate experience of the quaint French countryside, villages, and historical sites. See our International Driving Permit packages, rent a car, and check out Bordeaux's vineyards to the French Riviera's coastal roads!

Ready to check if an IDP is accepted in your destination?

Use the form and find out in seconds whether you need an international permit. Documents vary, based on the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic.

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