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How to register a Canadian car in France?

Automotive columnist: , Updated:

Many French people dream of driving a North American vehicle. However, the administrative formalities to get a car from across the Atlantic on the road in France can be daunting, whether it's from the United States or from its northern neighbor. How to register a Canadian car in France, then? Here's everything you need to know to prepare.

The steps to register a vehicle from Canada in France

For our purposes here, we assume that the vehicle is not already registered in France. If your Canadian car already has French plates, it will be enough to make a simple change of title. If the vehicle comes from Canada or elsewhere, there will be additional formalities in terms of customs clearance and homologation.

Importing a vehicle from Canada to France: customs duties and VAT

Customs duties and VAT are due on any vehicle imported, new or used, from a country outside the European Union. They are 10 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of the value of the vehicle. Usually, customs will apply these rates to the price mentioned on the invoice. But if the vehicle seems undervalued, the market value can be taken into account.

In case of importing a personal vehicle in the context of a move to France, the owner is exempted from these import taxes. In all cases, you must visit customs to obtain the 846A certificate. This document is indeed essential to register a vehicle imported from outside the EU. If your Canadian car comes from an EU member state, you will need to obtain a tax clearance from your tax office.

Registering a Canadian car in France: the procedure

Once you have the 846A (or discharge), you will need to register your vehicle from Canada. Except in exceptional cases, your car will not have a European certificate of conformity. This means that you have to proceed to an individual approval (RTI) via your DREAL or DRIRE. This is valid whether the vehicle comes from Canada or Europe. Indeed, foreign RTI are not recognized in France. So a vehicle from Canada that is plated in Germany will still have to follow the French homologation procedure.

To pass the RTI, you must first request a certificate of non-conformity from the manufacturer. This document lists the technical characteristics of the vehicle. It will allow the DREAL agents to see if the vehicle meets required standards, what potential technical modifications are to be made, etc. The DREAL can ask for a visit to the UTAC (the Linas autodrome or in Salon-de-Provence). For vehicles coming from Canada, this is the norm. The UTAC carries out tests, particularly in terms of emissions, noise and braking, to ensure that the vehicle meets European standards. Technical changes may be requested.

How much will it cost to get your Canadian car certified?

It's hard to say, first because cost varies depends on the model. But you should expect to pay at least €2,500. The UTAC tests alone cost €2,000. Add to that the RTI (the rates are fixed at the regional level), the possible technical modifications to be done... In most cases, the price oscillates more or less between €4,000 and €5,000. There are service providers who offer an all-inclusive "homologation of a car from Canada" rate.

How to register a Canadian car

Once you have the 846A certificate or discharge and the RTI or individual vehicle approval, the hardest part is done. All you have to do is to fill out an application form for the registration of an imported vehicle. It must include the following documents:

- RTI (individual approval)
- 846A or discharge
- Canadian registration card
- Purchase invoice
- Copy of your license
- Proof of residence
- Technical inspection
- Application form for registration

While a French registration application is usually processed in a few days, it takes longer for a Canadian car. Expect 3 to 6 weeks for complete applications, sometimes more. If you want to drive your car, you can apply for a provisional WW registration at an authorized registration service provider or at the ANTS. To obtain it, you must provide all the above documents, except the RTI.  This WW will allow you to drive your Canadian vehicle legally for 4 months.