The road to driving, part 1

[this post and the following parts are a reprint of the “Getting an Italian car registered in France” (aka “The glory of paperwork, part 78”) post. Stoopid me didn’t realize the way blogs work… Note that the date of the first entry is uncertain.]

The following is a mix between a rant about the endless papermill of the French authorities, and a tutorial for those unfortunate souls looking to import a car to France.

The whole thing started with me buying a used SAAB on Italian plates. A nice car, not very expensive, and big enough in case anyone is giving away a few freezers :-)

So, how did the papermill start? Well, I had a look at CERN’s pages, and saw that “the delays for obtaining green number plates are about 10-14 weeks.” This scared me off a bit, as I understood that I could get the normal French plates as soon as the paperwork was done. Oh, naïve youth!

The goal was soon set: To have a normal “carte grise” (grey card) and white/yellow plates. For this I needed the following:
– Proof that the car has passed a French “control technique” (technical control) less than two(?) months ago. The Italian document was no good, even if it was two weeks old.
– Proof of the sale of the car. The paper can be found at the Hotel de Ville (town hall) or at the Gex sous-prefecture (sub prefecture). The paper must be filled with lots of technical details about the car, and you’ll probably need to have a look under the hood for some of the numbers. However, most information can probably be found in the original description which follows the car.

The sous-prefecture didn’t accept the values from the Italian document, but anyway they gave me a temporary (3 weeks duration) carte grise, and instructed me to get a “certificate de conformite” (certificate of conformity [to French regulations]) from SAAB. I had to pay SAAB €120 for this (apparently this is a government tax). I also had to give SAAB basically all the information I had. After a few weeks, I received a “certificate de conformite partielle” (partial certificate of conformity). I took it to the sous-prefecture, and they told me I needed a complete “certificate de conformite”. They took the certificate, and sent it to DRIRE (Directions Régionales de l’Industrie, de la Recherche et de l’Environnement).

Now something fairly important should be mentioned about the temporary carte grise: It is renewable forever (three weeks at a time), and you only have to pay the €23 fee the two first times you get one! This was a surprise, as it means you will never need a permanent carte grise. However, going to Gex every three weeks and waiting in a line there might not be the best use of your time. Also, observe that the third and consecutive

Roll forth another few weeks, and I received a letter from DRIRE saying that they needed more documents:
– A “notice descriptive du type” (car type description), which I have to get from SAAB France.
– A “justificatifs concernant le niveau sonore” (audio level description), which I have to get from the police in Lyon.

I requested the first document from SAAB more than a week ago using their web form, but they haven’t answered yet, or the answer was caught by the CERN spam filter. The other document already has a dedicated blog entry, and more information will come when anything happens.


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