Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Licensed to thrill!

In what surely must be a record, it only took 3 1/2 months and two trips to the préfecture to get my French driver's license! They told me after my last trip that they would reply within 2 to 3 months - they waited exactly 3 months and then asked me for a bunch more stuff, including a 'justification of my presence in New Zealand territory when my license was issued', proof of address here and other stuff that I had already given them the first time. So this time I was not expecting them to actually give me the license, I was thinking it would take several more months, IF I was lucky.

So I'm pretty excited, even if honestly I'm way too scared to drive here, with: a) manual transmissions (I suck), b) parallel parking (I suck), c) on the other side of the road and d) surrounded by French people. But you have a year to do the exchange, so I thought I might as well do it and that way I'd be set to drive if I have/want to. And it works anywhere in the EU of course!

Bit bummed that I had to surrender my NZ license, especially since it had a half-decent photo and was a nice plastic wallet-sized card, unlike the cardboard monstrosity that is the French one! More importantly, though, they only gave me a license that lasts three years from when my NZ license was issued, stingy! So it runs out in August 2012, after which I have no idea what happens. They don't tell you that when they tell you you can swap it! They missed the fact that I'm meant to wear glasses when driving, suckers (I mean, I will obviously, but there has been the very odd occasion in the past where they were at the optometrists or whatever).

So, anyway, excited! It feels like another big step towards genuinely living here and not just being a fly by night expat. Not that I know what the future holds, but anyway...


  1. You know how I feel about driving on the right, so you're a braver man than I!

  2. The one I got in France had no expiry date on not sure about what that 3 year thing is...

    Also, while they took my Aussie licence, when I got back to Oz for good, I went to sort out my licence. At least here they don't care what the French did, but issue another card. The French have no authority over another country's licence issuing system. Although, funnily enough, I didn't have to surrender my French licence to get the Australian one back! So now I have 2 :)

  3. If I interpret your comments correctly there is now a half blind, total maniac loose on french roads!
    However its good to know, (from Bossy's comment, that you're a braver "man" than your mother.

  4. Oh man, I feel cheated now! But I'm a bit confused about the expiry anyway, cos it's written on like the notes page but then on the bit where it says I can drive a car and a minivan or whatever, there's no expiry date. And it says 'restrictions 70 NZ' for the car but not the minivan, which I don't know what that means but obviously relates to New Zealand somehow...
    That's great you got to keep the French one though!

  5. Is it the lighting or is your license orange? I've never seen one that color before.

    My license has no expiration date either. Where exactly does yours have the 2012 date? The only dates on mine are my 18th birthday (since I got my American license when I was 16 and they can't use that date obviously) and there's nothing for the jusqu'au column.

    The 70 NZ thing is just their code for the exchange countries. Mine says 70 USA.

    In 2013 all the EU countries are supposed to start switching to an ID card size license with a chip to reduce fraud.

  6. No, it's pink, but you're right it doesn't look it there! There's nothing in the jusqu'au column, it's on what I assume is the notes page, it's a blank page with details of my NZ licence on it, and then du 2009 au 2012. NZ licences are valid for 10 years (i.e. until 2019) so don't know where they would have got the 3 year thing from... But maybe if it's not in the jusqu'au column it's not really an expiry date?
    I asked a kiwi on the forums and her licence has no expiry date on it anywhere. Maybe I should go ask at the préfecture, sigh!


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