Members of Diplomatic Missions may benefit from an exemption from taxation as well as a relief from customs duty on some goods. The extent of these advantages may vary depending on the status of agents.
Arrival in france
Customs and tax exemptions
The foreign staff of diplomatic and consular missions posted to France and holding a special residence permit benefit from a customs and tax exemption on new or used vehicles whether bought in France or imported from a non-EU country or a Member country of the European Community (EC).
To qualify for exemption, you must own a vehicle registered on special series "CD", "C" or "K" plates and drive it for personal use. Trailers, vans, campers and caravans are not regarded as personal vehicles.
- Registration on special series plates is granted to the foreign staff of Missions for their personal vehicles.
Honorary consular officers, French nationals, dual nationals possessing the French and a foreign nationality and permanent residents are not entitled to this privilege.
Number plates are described in the following table:
|Series||Vehicles||Type of number plate|
|CMD||Personal vehicles of heads of diplomatic missions||Registration number displayed in orange on a jasper green plate|
|CD||Personal vehicles of diplomats||Registration number displayed in orange on a jasper green plate|
|C||Personal vehicles of career consular officers||Registration number displayed in white on a jasper green plate|
|K||Personal vehicles of administrative and technical staff and consular employees||Registration number displayed in white on a jasper green plate|
Prior to diplomatic registration as above, vehicles may be registered provisionally on "WW" plates.
As a courtesy and as proof of their functions, diplomats possessing French nationality, dual nationals possessing the French and a foreign nationality and permanent residents may obtain a vehicle registered on a "CDX" series plate, this under domestic market regulations and after payment of customs duties and taxes.
If a vehicle to be exported is no longer under diplomatic privilege, a W*L type export card is issued for vehicles to be exported to another EC Member State or a W*E one for vehicles exported to a non-EU country.
Scope of diplomatic privilege
"CMD" and "CD" diplomatic series - Diplomatic agents are entitled to one personal vehicle only if they are single or to two if they are married (spouses must however hold a special residence permit). Application for the allocation of two vehicles must be submitted in the diplomatic agent’s sole name.
"C" consular series - Career consular officers are entitled to one personal vehicle only if they are single or to two if they are married (spouses must however hold a special residence permit).
"K" series - Diplomatic privilege is granted for a single personal vehicle only.
Applications for registration of vehicles under privilege should be in the applicant’s name and submitted (in 5 copies) to Protocol Department by the Head of Mission or his/her qualified representative.
The following application forms should be used:
- form no.1 and form no.2bis for vehicles purchased duty-free on the French or Community markets
- form no.2 for vehicles imported from non-EU countries
- form no.2bis for vehicles purchased tax-inclusive on the French or Community markets.
All application forms should be submitted together with a copy of the insurance certificate drawn up by an authorized French or European company.
For new vehicles, please attach the original of the invoice in the name of the applicant.
For used cars, please attach the bill of sale.
Personal vehicles are exempt from the tax levied for issuing the receipt of declaration of a vehicle’s entry into service (known as carte grise).
Validity of driving permits - This depends on the country of issue of the permit, not on that of the holder’s nationality. Prefectures may request a certificate of authenticity for permits.
Recognition in France of foreign driving permits
French policy in this respect is based on strict reciprocity. The driving permit of origin is valid in France throughout the holder’s stay provided that the foreign authorities having issued the permit grant, in similar circumstances, the same privilege to French nationals accredited to their country.
Students: their driving permit is valid throughout their studies.
EU and EEA: holders of a permit may register it at the Prefecture of their place of residence. They will receive a registration certificate specifying the steps to take if the permit contains provisions that differ from those of the French driving permit.
Exchange of foreign driving permits
The original driving permit may be exchanged for a French permit where there is a reciprocal agreement between France and the country of issue of the foreign permit.
Application for exchange is to be made within a year from the issue of the first special residence permit. It is to be submitted to the Prefecture of the place of residence or, for Paris, to the Prefecture of Police.
Documents to be provided
On issue of a French driving permit, the applicant has to hand in his/her foreign permit which is kept by the Prefectural services. It will be returned only in exchange for the French permit
- original driving permit with official translation into French
- 2 passport-size photographs (35mm x 45mm) with a plain, white background
- original and photocopy of the special residence permit
- proof of place of residence (electricity or gas bill, rent receipt)
In the absence of a reciprocal exchange agreement, foreign permit holders must take the theory and practical tests to qualify for a French driving permit by going to a driving school or applying directly to the driving permit service of the Paris Prefecture of Police. Diplomatic agents are relieved from payment of fees.
- Embassies: only diplomatic Chanceries are entitled, when possible, to a few reserved parking spaces near their premises.
Any unauthorized driver parking in these reserved spaces may have his/her car towed away.
- Airports: vehicles carrying "CMD", "CD" and "C" number plates may park free of charge for 24 hours in the parking lots close to the air terminals by presenting the vehicle’s carte grise at the exit tollbooth.
Parking is illegal outside those areas. Drivers may be fined for illegal parking and their cars towed away.
This is designed to check the vehicle’s condition and its maintenance. It is compulsory for private vehicles and vans and must be carried out within the half-year preceding the vehicle’s fourth year of service and then every two years. The test is conducted in authorized centres.
This measure must be respected by French nationals, dual nationals possessing the French and a foreign nationality, permanent residents and career consular officers whose vehicles are not registered under privilege.
Owners of vehicles not registered under privilege or registered under privilege are required to keep them in good condition and properly maintained.
Air pollution control
- A comprehensive pollution control programme has been launched. It includes arrangements designed to tackle emergency situations such as pollution peaks. The pastille verte (green disc) is one of its elements and is intended to help owners of less polluting vehicles benefit from driving privileges even in the event of serious pollution (level 3 of air pollution alert).
- French nationals, dual nationals possessing the French and a foreign nationality, permanent residents and honorary consular officers whose vehicles are not registered under privilege are expected to comply with this programme.
- If they meet the standards laid down in legislative texts, they are entitled to display the pastille verte on their vehicle’s windscreen and to drive both during pollution peaks and pollution-free periods.
- If not, they are subject to measures relating to alternate days of circulation which are set, in each Department concerned, by prefectural order.
Disposal of vehicles carrying diplomatic and consular number plates
To resell a vehicle carrying a diplomatic or consular number plate to a non-entitled third person, payable duties and taxes must be settled at your local Customs Office. This provision also applies in the event of loss of diplomatic status (termination of appointment, transfer, retirement, etc.), theft or destruction (in which case the owner must contact the Customs Office as soon as the theft has been established).
Number plates must also be returned by the owner to the Customs Office which endorsed the vehicle’s registration
Documents to be provided on disposal of a vehicle:
- photocopy of the new carte grise
- or export licence
- or bill of sale
- or scrapping certificate
Updated : July 2012
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