The plan to make getting a French drivers’ licence quicker and cheaper

A bill aiming to make the process of obtaining a French driver's licence more affordable and smooth is making its way through France's parliament. Here is how it could impact would-be drivers in France.

The plan to make getting a French drivers' licence quicker and cheaper

French lawmakers are looking to make it less expensive to get a driver’s licence, in a bill that gained unanimous support during a vote on Monday in the country’s Assemblée Nationale. 

Originally tabled by Sacha Houilié, a member of French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party, the initiative is intended to improve the slow and notoriously expensive process of getting a licence in France.

Here’s what the bill proposes;

One youth, one licence

This online platform would be managed by the French government, and it would help future drivers be able to locate financial aid that might help them pay for their driving test.

As things stand currently, getting a driver’s licence in France is a lengthy, and expensive process – particularly as many people have to take the test more than once, and thus wait a significant amount of time in between test dates.

On average, the average candidate for a French driver’s licence pays about €1,800 for the whole process, including lessons and the theory and practical tests.

READ MORE: Four years and €1,800: What foreigners should know about the French driving test?

Allowing CPF budgets to fund licences

The proposed text would allow for one’s personal training account (CPF) to help fund all types of licenses, including motorcycles and small cars. Currently, only the B licenses – for standard cars – are able to do so.

In 2021, CPF budgets helped to finance 322,000 driver’s licences in France – about 28 percent of the licences issued that year. This would help extend it even further.

READ MORE: How to claim the cost of language or driving lessons from the French government

Contracted test examiners

With the goal of being able to offer more testing slots, the bill would extend the authorisation that exists in some parts of France for contracted workers to be authorised as test examiners for the practical (road test) aspect of the French driver’s licence to be nationwide. This would allegedly help to make the process faster, particularly for those who need to take the test more than once.

Houlié, the député who brought the bill forward, said that this will not be “outsourcing” the role of test examiners, but some members of the French political left have contested this part of the bill. This is not “outsourcing”, Mr. Houlié assures us in the face of inspectors’ concerns. The left has protested against the use of contract workers.

What about foreigners in France?

If you’re a foreign national living in France, you may need to exchange your licence for a French one.

If you’re lucky, the country that issued your licence will have an agreement with France, so then the process is a simple swap.

If you’re unlucky, there is no agreement in place and then you will need to take a French driving test in order to legally drive in France – even if you have many years of driving experience.

Full details on the swap process here.

This particularly affects Americans in France, as only some US states have agreements with France.

The European Union has proposed legislation that would create a list of countries that have ‘comparable’ driving standards to the EU, and allow people who have a licence from those countries to simply swap their licence for a local one, whichever EU country they live in.

Essentially, this could allow Americans from any state to simply swap their licence, rather than having to go through the testing process again. 

READ MORE: Americans in France: What you need to know about proposed changes to EU driving licence rules

Unfortunately, the plan will likely take many months, potentially years, to come into fruition. 

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French supermarkets announce plan to sell (slightly) cheaper fuel

Two of France's primary fuel distributors have announced plans to sell at cost-price, starting on Friday. But will drivers save much money when filling up their tank?

French supermarkets announce plan to sell (slightly) cheaper fuel

The fuel stations operated by Leclerc and Carrefour in France began offering fuel at cost-price on Friday after calls from the government to aid consumers with the rising price of petrol and diesel.

The operation will remain in place until the end of 2023, BFMTV reported.

As for Leclerc, the company said in an announcement on social media that only the 696 service stations located at its supermarkets will be concerned, meaning it will not include motorway stations. 

Unlike previous similar operations by Leclerc, concerned stations will offer fuel at cost-price every day of the week, including weekends and holidays. 

The company added that the initiative was “designed to last”, but it would “have to be re-evaluated or adapted each month to take account of supply conditions and the expected involvement of oil companies”.

As for Carrefour, the company simply published a tweet announcing a “large-scale operation” to sell fuel at cost-price starting Friday.

Carrefour also noted that fuel at cost-price would be available specifically at stations at supermarkets.

How much will the operation decrease costs for consumers?

A representative from France’s union for petrol industries (UFIP) estimated to BFMTV that retailers only had margins of around €0.01 when it comes to the sale price of fuel. 

The president of Leclerc, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, told France Info on Wednesday that their margins were around “two to three percent, meaning about €0.02 to €0.06 cents per litre.”

So for a full tank of petrol at Leclerc, this might save the driver between just €1 and €2, according to estimations by France Info.

What about selling at a loss?

Despite requests by the French government, both Leclerc and Carrefour remained opposed to selling fuel at a loss. 

In an attempt to respond to higher costs at the pump, France’s prime minister had announced that the government would pass legislation in order to allow fuel providers to sell at a loss, which would normally be outlawed in France due to protections for small and independent businesses.

However, fuel distributors have so far refused this government plan. Afterwards, French President Emmanuel Macron told TF1 in a televised interview that he would meet with fuel distributors to push them to sell at cost-price.

The president also said he would request that the government include a new scheme to help low-income households who rely on their vehicles to get to work in the upcoming 2024 budget. 

READ MORE: Who could benefit from France’s planned new fuel subsidy?