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I live in Massachusetts, USA. I will go to California, USA one month in June, then go to France in July. I need to drive in these 3 places. As a French citizen, I have a US driving license and my French driving license is being kept in the French Consulate at Boston, Massachusetts, as I converted my French driving license to a US driving license.

I need to go straight from California to France, which means that I cannot drop by the French Consulate at Boston to get my French driving license back for a few days.

Is there any other solution than having a notarized translation in French along with my US driving license? Would having my International Driving Permit issued by the French administration along with my US driving license be enough?

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I find it utterly strange that the French embassy in the US claims that you need a notarized translation of your US license to drive in France and additionally recommends you to have an international driving permit (IDP), since the point of the IDP is to provide a cheap and standardized translation of a driver's license.

It is also not difficult to find condradicting information from the French authorities, etc. here it says:

Si vous venez en France pour un court séjour (pour des vacances par exemple), vous pouvez conduire avec votre permis. Il doit être valide et être rédigé en français ou accompagné de sa traduction ou d'un permis international.

With reservations regarding my rusty French, this should mean something like: If you are in France on a short visit (e.g. on holidays), you may drive with your own driver's license. It must be valid and issued in French or accompanied with a translation or an international driving permit.

So, instead of a notarized translation, you should be fine in France with your US driver's license and an associated IDP.

In the last paragraph, you are mentioning an IDP issued by the French authorities. Without understanding that completely, I suppose you may still have an IDP issued for your French license? If that is your situation, you will not be able to use the French IDP together with your US driver's license. An IDP is always associated with and only valid together with a "real" license.

  • Thanks. That's correct, I still have an IDP issued for my French license, but it's probably expired. as I see that "The period of validity of an International Driving Permit may be either no more than three years (Convention 1968) or no more than 1 year (Convention 1949) after the date of issue or until the date of expiry of a National Driving Permit, whichever is earlier. ". I guess one upside of the notarized translation is that I believe it only expires when is the US driving license expires. – Franck Dernoncourt May 17 '15 at 16:58
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I know that in France you can get an international driver licence just by requesting it at police station.

As a french citizen living in Paris, I would clearly not worry driving in France with a US licence. Authorities get used to have tourist with their own driving licence. They would check for the validity of your licence only if you get problems (driving drunk, car accident, ...) but not just for a control.

To be sure, I would request the Boston french consulat to send a copy of your original french licence and US administration (city Hall, police station, ...) for an international car licence.

But again I would not worry about that :)

  • Good point, a copy of the original driving license might be helpful (has no legal value but might help convince). I agree that the stakes shouldn't be very high but just wanted to make sure that I don't run into major issues, as the kafkaesque administration in France one of the reasons why I left the country. – Franck Dernoncourt May 17 '15 at 17:02

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