Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Saturday, February 02, 2008

French numberplates to change in 2008

FrenchEntree reports that the system of French number plates is due to change this year from being allocated on a departmental basis to being allocated nationally, and being fixed for the life of the vehicle.

Current French vehicle number plates are of the pattern of NNNN AAA 99 with NNNN being up to four numbers, then two or three letters AAA, followed by a two digit department number 99. Our holiday Gite is on the border of department's 56 and 22 (Morbihan and Cotes d'Armor) so we see lots of cars with number plates ending 56 or 22. The advantage of this system is that you can see instantly where the car has come from but it causes a lot of administration as cars have to be re-registered in the right department if you move house or if you buy a car from a different region.

In 2008 the system is apparently going to change to AA NNN AA (up to two letters, two or three numbers followed by one or two letters at the end) so the first plate issued will be A 11 A and the last will be ZZ 999 ZZ. The licence plates will be issued chronologically in a nationwide sequence and so won't have any geographical code within the number plate.

If owners wish, they can have a white on blue geographical identification added to their plates which will appear on the far right hand side of the licence plate (opposite the EU logo). The regional code will be on top (e.g. IdF for Ile de France) and the department number will then appear below it (e.g. 92).

In a country that almost makes beauracracy a national pastime, it's interesting to hear that some of the reasons for introducing the change are to simplify the administration effort for drivers and to reduce the civil service workload!

It's going to make it harder to play the game of "spot the car number plates" we play with the children when we holiday in France. The aim is to try to see one car from each department in France (01 - Ain, 02 - Aisne, ... through to 94 - Val-de-Marne and 95 - Val-d'Oise, and of course 2A - South Corsica and 2B - North Corsica). It can get quite a challenge to see the final plates you've not 'ticked off' and gives something to distract the kids with!

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