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HEALTH

Reader Question: Can you use a French disabled parking badge in the UK and vice versa?

If you're a disabled driver planning a trip, here's what you need to know about using your parking badge abroad, plus how France's badge is changing.

Reader Question: Can you use a French disabled parking badge in the UK and vice versa?
Disabled motorists in France can use their CMI permits in any EU / EEA state. (Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP)

France’s carte mobilité inclusion (CMI) system allows free and unlimited use of all parking spaces open to the public. Holders can use the card whether they are the driver of a car or its passenger. 

The duration of parking can be limited by decision of the town hall beyond a statutory minimum of 12 hours.

In addition to a CMI specifically for parking, people can apply for a disability or priority CMI, depending on their degree of disability, which can be used to avoid queues or request assistance.

I have an old-style card. Is it still valid?

France’s CMI replaces the old carte européenne de stationnement. Current cards are valid to their expiry date, or until midnight on December 31st, 2026. But holders of the old-style cards in France can apply for a newer CMI at any time.

The French government has said that these newer cards meet the requirements of existing EU disability parking cards, so should be used in the same manner – which means you can use your badge in all EU member states, plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein.

I’m not French – am I entitled to a French card?

Yes, disabled people are entitled to a card, as long as you are a citizen of an EU or EEA Member State, or have proof of legal residency in France, such as a titre de séjour.

What about using badges issued in the UK in France?

Post-Brexit, the UK is no longer part of the EU Disabled Parking Card scheme. While the UK government has informal agreements with some EU and EEA countries to continue recognising British-issued disabled parking badges, France is not one of those countries.

The UK Blue Badge scheme remains compliant with the EU system, which leaves it in something of a legal grey area. One workaround, suggested by the British government, is to print out and display the below French-language notice alongside your blue badge during your travels in France. You can find the printable version of it here.

But the British government also warned that a British-issued Blue Badge “may not be recognised”, and holders should “check locally before parking”.

For travellers with British or other non-EU/EEA issued disabled parking cards, complementary notices, similar to the French-language one, are available on the British government’s website here

And what about using the French card in the UK?

The UK has said it will continue the mutual recognition of the EU disabled parking card for visitors to the UK. If you’re using a French badge, it is advised to print out the English-language notice to display alongside it. You can find the printable version of that here.

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For members

DRIVING

Camper van warning for UK driving licence holders in France

UK driving licence holders who are swapping their licence for a French one have been warned that there are limits to the type of vehicles that can be driven with their new licence, after a clarification from French authorities.

Camper van warning for UK driving licence holders in France

The post-Brexit saga of driving licences for Brits living in France has been long, complicated and painful.

It is, however, now largely resolved – a deal has been agreed, the enormous backlog of applications has been cleared and most applications for a driving licence swap are proceeding fairly smoothly

READ ALSO How to swap your UK licence for a French one

There was, however, one issue remaining – whether the new French licence would allow the same rights to drive certain types of larger vehicles, including camper vans and motorhomes. 

What’s the issue?

Anyone who obtained a UK driving licence after 1997 is entitled to drive vehicles up to 3,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM) with up to 8 passenger seats. People wishing to drive vehicles up to 8,250kg maximum authorised mass (MAM) – for example minibuses or the larger types of campervan – need to take an extra test.

However, those who got their UK licences before 1997 were entitled to drive vehicles up to 8,250kg without needing to take an extra test.

The problem is that the standard French driving licence – the Permis B – does not allow for the driving of larger vehicles without a separate test. Permis B holders can drive vehicles weighing up to 3.5 tonnes with eight passengers or fewer.

So for people who got their UK licences after 1997 it’s basically a like-for-like swap.

However, those who got their licences before 1997 found that their French licence allowed them to drive fewer categories of vehicles than their UK one.

This has been a particular problem for enthusiasts of camper vans or mobile homes – some of whom had already purchased larger vehicles that were legal on their UK licence, but which they now cannot drive on a French licence.

The issue does not affect people who live in the UK – they can continue to drive larger camper vans and other vehicles in France, in accordance with the conditions of their UK driving licence.

The decision

The post-Brexit driving licence deal was finally agreed in 2021, and the gradual swap of UK driving licences for French residents began.

The question of the exchange of rights for larger vehicles, however, has been under negotiation ever since.

But French authorities have now definitely clarified that the larger vehicle rights of older UK licences cannot be exchanged for an equivalent French licence without taking a test.

Anyone who already has a French Permis B – the standard driving licence – will need to take the extra French test in order to regain their rights to drive heavier cars, vans and camper vans.

The UK government’s Living in France page has now been updated to reflect this clarification.

You can find full information on the options for a French test, as well as the relevant French driving licence categories for larger vehicles, HERE or in English on the Facebook group Driving in France – French Licence Application.

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