In France, special rules apply to novice drivers for the first three years after they get their driver's license.

I am german, living in germany just a short distance from the border. I got a german issued EU car driver's license (class B) 12 years ago. Now I got an extension for motorcycles (class A).

When I make tours across the border and might get stopped by french police, from which date are the three years counted now, is it the date of the license being issued, or the date of the license becoming valid for a vehicle class? Does the rule maybe not apply to me at all because it only applies to licenses that were issued in France?

I expect that I do not need to follow the novice driver rules in a car, because I had the license for 12 years. Do I need to follow the rules while I ride on a motorcycle?

  • The probationary period is only calculated from the first issuance of the driver's licence (or the re-issuance of the driver's licence after the licence is cancelled for cause). But yeah this question is not in scope since short-term travellers from other places are not concerned by these rules.
    – xngtng
    Jul 7, 2022 at 15:54
  • 3
    @xngtng in which case, if Thomas Blank is asking because he intends to drive in France as a short-term visitor, the question is on topic, even if the answer would be different were he a resident of France. Thomas: what is your status in France and who issued your license?
    – phoog
    Jul 7, 2022 at 16:11
  • @phoog Ah, I kind of assumed that the OP had a French licence. If it is for short-term driving though, the probationary period does not apply to holders of foreign licence; I'll wait for clarification from the OP.
    – xngtng
    Jul 7, 2022 at 16:37
  • 1
    Hi, I am german, my license is a german issued EU license and I live 20 km from the german-french border. I am asking this question for short motorcycle trips across the border. I am not an expatriate in France. Jul 8, 2022 at 16:41
  • 4
    Driving, including how licenses work in other countries, do fit into this site, so I voted to re-open.
    – Willeke
    Jul 8, 2022 at 16:56

2 Answers 2


The rules for novice drivers (often somewhat misleadingly called jeunes conducteurs or "young drivers" whereas the age of the driver is irrelevant but rather the age of the driving licence matters) comes from the fact they have a permis probatoire, or probationary licence, which is in effect during the first three (or two, under conditions) years after a new driver's licence is issued to someone. Adding a category is not considered to create a new driver's licence, but simply a modification of the authorization contained in the licence. Obtaining a licence after the original licence is cancelled by authorities (due to e.g. loss of all points) however is considered as obtaining a new licence and a new probation period applies.

For holders of foreign licences

In principle, all rules for licencing provided by French (or another country's) law are only for licences issued under French (or that country's) law, unless expressly provided as applicable to licences issued to another jurisdiction. For example, if French law requires 20 hours of practical instructions to obtain a driver's licence, your German licence obtained from 12 hours of practical lessons of course is not simply invalid because of that unless French law expressly conditions its acceptance on the hours of instructions (which would violate the EU directive, but that is just an example.)

For example, before 2016, foreign drivers cannot be concerned by demerits point under the French system. In 2016, a new provision had to be created in the Highway Code to expressly provide for a point system for foreign drivers, which is still completely separate from the system for French licences.

French law currently only apply probationary period to licences issued under the French law. The probationary period is introduced by the point system under L223-1 of the Road Code.

This point system does not apply to holders of foreign licences as there exists a separate point system provided by L223-10 (although the system has not been implemented).

Thus, drivers holding a foreign licence recognized as valid under French law (e.g. all EU licences) are not subject to the rules for probationary drivers (e.g. letter A sticker or special speed limits). However, if a holder of foreign driving licence wish to obtain a French licence, the licence obtained as such will be considered as a new licence and subject to probationary period (but the period count as starting from the grant of the foreign licence in case of exchange) (the transportation department's response to a Senator's question, see also L223-11).


The following is for a French license holder, most will not apply at all to you, I don't even think that foreign license holders are under the permis probatoire scheme as nothing is mentionned in that sense on official advice

Avoir l'âge minimal pour conduire le véhicule de la catégorie équivalente de votre permis (au moins 18 ans pour le permis B) [...]

Have the minimal age to drive a vehicle in the equivalent (French) category on your license (at least 18yo for B license)

from service-public (translations mine)

General info on the scheme :

If you have held any category of French license continuously (this resets if your license is invalidated) for more than 3 years (2 years or less in some cases that aren't important here), you have now a full license, and you will never be again under the regulation of the permis probatoire

Vous avez un permis de conduire probatoire lorsque vous obtenez le permis pour la 1re fois ou à la suite d'une invalidation ou d'une annulation judiciaire.

Translation mine :

You have a permis probatoire when you obtain the license for the first time or after an invalidation or judicial annulment

This is when you validate your first category, and doesn't apply to further categories that you may be adding

Ainsi, si vous avez le permis B et passez le permis moto A2, le permis probatoire ne vous concerne pas.

If you have a category B license and pass the exam for the A2 category (motorcycle license) the permis probatoire doesn't apply to you

From service-public

  • Thank you for those links, they are very helpful to understand how the point system works. Jul 10, 2022 at 9:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .