… if you intend moving to France and taking it with you. You’re probably better off buying a BMW.
Let me give you some background as explanation.
According to the legislation, if you are resident in France, then your vehicle must be registered in France. A resident is someone who spends more than six months (183 days) each year in France.
If you are a non resident, then you are allowed to use your vehicle on UK plates for up to 6 months as long as it has a tax disc, current MOT, if required, and is insured.
If you move to France with the intention of staying more than 183 days, then you only have one month to register your vehicle and the six month rule does not apply.
So, how does one go about re-registering a vehicle (in particular a Honda ST1100) in France?
Here’s how the procedure should work:
Step 1. Obtain a Certificate of Conformity
Step 2. Adjust or change your headlights. Obviously because in the UK vehicles drive on the left, and in France they drive on the right, the headlights are pointing the wrong way. In my particular case, the headlights were not angled left but were pointed straight ahead; in other words they should be legal for French roads. (They weren’t, but I’ll explain that later)
Step 3. Get a tax exemption certificate. This is called a Quittus Fiscal and simply shows that you have not just bought the vehicle and imported it, but have already paid tax on the purchase (if you bought it new). If you bought it second-hand, like I did, no tax is due anyway. (The local Hotel des Impots has informed us that a Quittus Fiscal is no longer needed. We’ll see. We’re fully expecting the Prefecture to ask for one. Left hand not knowing what right hand is doing, and all that sort of stuff).
Step 4.Put the vehicle through a controle technique (CT). I still need to determine if a CT is required for motorcycles; the French were going to introduce this requirement but I’m not sure yet whether it has become law.
Step 5.Fill out a demande de certificate d’immatriculation and visit the Prefecture. They should then issue a temporary Carte Grise.
Step 6. Return the V5 vehicle export section to the DVLA, and obtain new French number plates.
Step 7. The full Carte Gris should arrive in the post; send a photocopy to your insurer so that the vehicle can be insured.
So. Here’s how it works in practice. Remember, according to the legalities, I have a month to get the ST1100 registered.
Ready? Here we go.
Step 1. Day 1. 19th April (We had already been here a month but it took that long to get bank accounts sorted out, so we’ll call this Day 1 for the sake of argument. Let’s pretend we arrived yesterday.)
Wrote a letter to Honda (Marne-La-Vallee in Paris) requesting a certificate of conformity, and enclosing a photocopy of the V5 (UK registration document).
Day 12. A lot of paperwork arrived in the post, which in summary meant that the vehicle had to be taken to an authorised dealer for checks to be carried out. This included (and I’m not kidding):
Serial number of engine
Number of disc brakes (front and rear)
Number of brake drums (front and rear)
Make and model of spark plugs
Make and model of electronic ignition module
Make and model of tyre (front and rear)
Part number of front light
How many bulbs does the front light have on dipped beam?
How many bulbs does the front light have on full beam?
Part number of indicators (front and rear)
Part number of rear stop light
Part number of rear reflector
Does the vehicle have panniers?
Make and part number of the exhausts
So, we called our closest authorised Honda dealer, which happened to be in Blois, and made an appointment. The earliest appointment we could get was for Friday 4th May.
Day 16. 4th May. The appointment in Blois. The dealer examined the bike, which took several hours, and said that the headlights would need to be changed so that they deviated to the right. Obviously they did not have these in stock, but would have to order them (from the UK, strangely enough). Another appointment was made to do the work, for Friday 11th May.
Day 23. Friday 11th May. Another appointment in Blois. Headlights changed, and all the paperwork from Honda filled up with part numbers etc. etc. I took a photocopy of everything, and stuffed it all into an envelope together with the required cheque for €120, and with a sigh of relief posted it off to Honda.
Day 42. 30th May. Oh dear. Oops, and oh dear once again. What was that about having a month to get the ST1100 registered?
Today the €120 cheque left my bank account. Not a word from Honda.
(My wife is going through the same process for her Hyundai; she called them to enquire when the certificate of conformity would arrive, because the money left her bank account on the 22nd May. She was told that cheques could still bounce up to FIFTEEN DAYS after having been presented. Why the fark do they insist on cheques then? We tried to pay by card over the phone but that technology has not reached France yet.)
Day …. I’ve lost count, but it’s the 19th June. My wife calls Honda to enquire where the certificate of conformity is.
“Oh yes,” the woman at Honda said. “From the reference number you’ve given me I can see that the cheque went through on the 30th May.”
“That’s correct,” my wife said. “So when will my husband receive the certificate of conformity?”
“Oh, we need to do our research first. This usually takes three months.”
“Oh yes, sometimes it takes even longer.”
Honda France, what the FARK are you doing? How the FARK am I supposed to comply with French law and register my vehicle within a month when you say you are going to take THREE MONTHS to research the vehicle? The badge on the front of the ST1100 proudly declaims “HONDA”. Did you or did you not MANUFACTURE THIS FARKING VEHICLE? So what the FARK research do you have to do? We’ve already given you all the part numbers you’ve asked for.
I’m going to see if I can find the email address of the head of Honda Japan and point him to this post. Honda France need a serious kick up the derrière.
Annoyed? Farking right I’m annoyed. The UK tax disc for the ST1100 ran out at the end of May. I didn’t renew it because (STUPIDLY) I presumed Honda France would be efficient. So I declared it SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification – which means the vehicle is declared “off the road” and may not legally be used on a public road). Now I can’t re-tax it, because it needs an MOT (UK roadworthiness certificate) which can’t be done in France.
So I have a bike that I can’t use, and won’t be able to use until Honda France remove their collective thumbs from their rear end.