I would love to drive through Brazil and Suriname starting from French Guiana. However, renting a car to do this proved to be impossible. There are ferries between French Guiana and Suriname and a bridge between French Guiana and Brazil. This implies French registered car do cross the border to Brazil and Suriname. If I am not a resident of France, would I be able to buy a second hand car, insure it and cross the border to Brazil and or Suriname?

  • It's certainly possible to own a car in France without being a resident. I'm sure you'd find someone willing to insure you. How much you'd end up paying is another matter. Jul 22, 2014 at 21:22
  • @Gilles Owning a car is obviously no problem but I am not so sure about insurance. Actual experience or relevant legal knowledge would be nice.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 22, 2014 at 21:39
  • Just one question, how does buying a second-hand car and insuring it become less of a hassle in comparison to taking a bus (mentioned in your previous question)? +1 nonetheless Jul 23, 2014 at 2:03
  • 2
    @AdityaSomani Busses are an option in populated areas. The beauty of that area is that there are large non-populated places
    – user141
    Jul 23, 2014 at 5:41

2 Answers 2


You ask many questions, and the answers are several.

  1. Yes, you can buy and own a French car while not being a resident.

  2. You can insure it either through your own company in whatever country you are in (for a short or long term period) or through a French company. The price might be high, since you might not offer the highest guarantee for the French company. Insurance companies have complex models to calculate the amount to pay, and foreign owners of cars in French Guyana is fairly complex.

  3. Crossing the borders is a different topic. 3.1. Regulation from Brazil or Surinam might prevent you from crossing the borders freely with your car; you might need special waiver etc. 3.2. This adds to the problem of insurance. Usually French insurance companies insure for the French territory (and the European Union). It might be difficult to have an international car insurance covering Brazil and Surinam (or more costly).

Of course, it is mandatory to have insurance in France (and French Guyana), it might not be the case in Brazil or Surinam). If you have a very beat up car, you might not care that much.

  • 2
    In France, only liability insurance is mandatory. You'd care about that even with a beat-up car. Jul 28, 2014 at 20:35
  • I have traveled that region extensively and saw french licensed cars on the other side of the border, so I assume no issue with crossing the border. It is primarily about the regulations in place. I am particularly interested in the "fairly complex" part of your point two. Do you have some reference that elaborate on this complexity? I do speak/read french, so French resources are fine.
    – user141
    Jul 29, 2014 at 7:18
  • @ Gilles. I meant to say that you may don't care about the insurance in Brazil or Surinam... I would, but if this is not mandatory... some people do not care.
    – Martigan
    Jul 29, 2014 at 14:24
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    @ andra. You can try to contact in advance some insurance shops or see online. You can try maaf, which is a french insurance company that does have one physical presence at Cayenne. I tried to do a simulation for an old car, but it seems that foreign owners are not possible online; you have to talk directly to someone (the complex part sometime...), as it is a "special case". There are other companies present in French Guyanne such as GMF, MAIF, Allianz etc.
    – Martigan
    Jul 29, 2014 at 14:29
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    It's also possible that a non-resident registering a vehicle in France or a French overseas territory may not be legally registered if (s)he operates the vehicle out of French territory. This is often done to prevent people from choosing where they insure vehicles, if their rates at home are high. (It can apply subnationally, too, e.g. Canadian provinces and U.S. states.) Apr 30, 2018 at 15:01

No, you cannot own a french car unless you are domiciled (Live full time) there. To register a car requires a photo ID & proof of domicile.

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    Do you have any references for that? You are claiming something different than the other 4 year old answer, so some 'proof' would be nice.
    – user40521
    Apr 30, 2018 at 15:06

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