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