BC Driver’s License Exchange – France

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Beziers Church
Beziers Church

Beziers is growing on me. I didn’t like it throughout the winter, it seemed grey and grungy to me. Then the floral markets started up and the locals emerged from hibernation and the city came alive right before my eyes.

Now I only see the old buildings, the charming narrow streets that wind towards the church and cafes full of people-watchers along the way. I love the shopping streets nestled away from the main roads and how you can smell the bakery before you see it.

If you find yourself famished in Beziers Start Kabob is our recommendation. The best lunch in town starting at 4 Euros for the wrap, and is located near the bottom of the walking street, across from the tourist office. Extra yogurt and with hot sauce please! We have met a fellow expats here as I is great value and the veal is in-house, no prefab mince here.

Here’s the information on Driver’s License exchange in France

When we first arrived in France our BC Canadian Driver’s License could not be exchanged in France. Not sure why this was the case, we started the paper work to exchange our BC driver’s licenses with a Hungary one in the district where we own our apartment and live in part time. It was a more viable option, as our Hungarian is much better than our French.

Currently we are in the middle of the process needing to return to take the written exam, which for me being born and raised in Canada would prove difficult but not impossible. For Alfonz it would be a cinch being born and raised just outside Budapest. He moved to Canada in his late teens.

Recently, however, BC Canada was added to the exchange list, becoming one of the last provinces to benefit from the reciprocity program that is offered across Europe to exchange your license while travelling or relocating.

Off to the prefecture in Beziers with all our items ticked off our list.

– Colour passport photocopies

– Colour BC Driver’s License photocopies

– Current BC Driver’s License

– BC Driver’s License Translation

– Proof of residence for 6 months in France

– 4 coloured photos

– 2 self addressed stamped envelopes

– Bank statement or electric bill (EDF) as proof of residence

– Bank statement or electric bill or driver’s abstract as proof of residence in Canada while you held you BC license.

– Fill out the resident/information form they provide

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We made copies of both our Canadian passports and our BC Driver’s License in colour off our computer scanner ?

When you give in our paperwork they take your current license and issue you a temporary officially stamped paper license so you can continue to drive in France. ?

The BC Driver’s License translation is the most important document to gather in this process. Madam Hobson across from the church in Beziers is where we went and cost 18Euros/head. I dropped the licenses off Thursday am and returned Friday am to pick them up and went straight to the Prefecture from there. A short walk across the walking strip.?

We bought our house in Capestang 5 days shy of 6 months on the day we went in to exchange it for our French driver’s license and had to return home to gather our rental agreement from the home we rented over the winter. Thankfully both our names were on the paperwork thanks to Mike, our landlord’s forethought. ?

We went to Intermarche and used their photo booth at the cost of 5 Euros each and took our necessary 4 coloured head shots for our French License. Mine looks awful. If I could understand French better I could have pressed the retake option and retaken the photo as Alfonz did to perfect his prefecture shot. I suggest you make the photo as well as you can get it, in a country where your license is with you forever. No renewals. I personally wish I had taken the photo the day before the party not after and will be stuck with the no sleep hangover picture for the rest of my French life! C’est la Vie. At least it is done. ?

From our local newsstand in Capestang we purchased our necessary 2 prepaid self-addressed stamped envelopes costing 1 Euro for each envelope. We needed 4 for in total for the two of us.

An EDF is like the bible in France. It shows where you live and every institution asks for it. We printed it off online account and voila, another tick off our list. ?

We thought we didn’t need the EDF print-off from Canada because we also hold Hungarian passports and they are a part of the EU. We were mistaken. The Canadian EDF or official documents of residency proves you did in fact live in Canada when you received your current BC Driver’s License. It was explained to us, that is was a measure necessary in a world where you can buy a license in many French colonies in third world countries and never have to even step foot in them. Making it a quick and easy way for some less than above the board types to whittle their way into the French system. I tried to explain that we were Canadian the home of the good, from the land of the above the board, but they said, Non! We had already eliminated most of our BC Canada paperwork before moving to France and used a copy of our house sale. ?

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We arrived in Beziers just after 11:00am and they close their kiosk at 11:15 to make sure they get to their lunch break on time. The lady behind the counter was helpful and friendly. Taking a number upon entry, she then helped us organize our forms and told us to take another number immediately to avoid another long line-up. We let in a few people in between to give ourselves enough time to fill out the French forms they gave us at the window, where they ask you to step back out of line to fill. Total unnecessary as it literally took a minute to write our name, address and phone number on them. We had approximately 10 people in front of us and it took about an hour from start to finish.

I did misplace a photocopy and a pre-stamped envelope and luckily I had time to run up the street to their local newsstand to buy another and they have a photocopier on the premises for this common arising issue. The cost to copy was 20 cents with no change machine so bring extra change in case.

Mallory said if you go before opening there is a line-up outside to get in by 9:00am that starts around 8:30 to form and thought it best to go about an hour after opening around 10:00 to avoid the 1/2 hour line-up of people trying to get there first. She was right it was the same 10 people ahead of us both times we found ourselves at the Prefecture.

One thing to note

Alfonz holds a class 5 and 6 license in BC, which entitles him to ride his full sized motorbike and regular vehicles as well. In Canada we are also allowed to tow trailers and such without taking any extra courses.

In France however that is not the case. When we translated our forms we clearly asked them to show his classifications in hopes to have the extra added on. Unfortunately BC only has a class 5 reciprocal program with France. So after all the prep work we decide it better for Alfonz to stick with the original plan and get his driver’s license through Hungary. He can easily take his motorbike and vehicle license test again in his native tongue and will travel back to Hungary on his motorbike to complete the paperwork that is underway.

The ladies that work behind the counter at the Prefecture tried so hard to make things work out for Alfonz and his more complicated license. They probably remember him from the endless mucking around with our French plate o his motorbike and our Westfalia camper van, or maybe it is those irresistible eyes batting at them, either way if an exception could have been made for Alfonz that day, they would have made it.

We now just wait for my new French license to arrive in the mail. My temporary license is good for 2 months and can be renewed in the case the official license does not arrive before hand. I asked if it will arrive before 2 month, and she said, ‘It is possible.’ More often than not that means probably not but we can be hopeful.

That’s Hamori!

 

 

 


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4 COMMENTS

  1. That is great news. I have been procrastinating on writing the test for the past 18 months. Still can’t find the link on the Prefecture or ICBS webpage though.

  2. No kidding when they finally added BC and France to the exchange program it was so new I emailed the embassy as to the process of the new procedure, and to make sure it was truly a go. They told me it is so new that the French system may or may not recognize the new policy and may or may not have the documentation for it yet. I then waited a few weeks to proceed and emailed the French information at the prefecture to enquire.
    In fact they checked on an old photocopied binder with information on looseleaf paper that had discoloured to yellow from years of wear, and said NON! I then gave them the new photocopied policy I got off their own website and left it in there hands after they in fact took my application.

    It was much easier than I had imagined, and two visits to the prefecture is really a walk in the park compared to many before me.

  3. Wish someone wrote the same detailed report about exchange of drivers license in Germany! Looks like I’ll be the first one to do that in a couple of months and definitely not looking forward to the procedure 🙂 Congratulations – looks like you are almost there!

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