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France’s new digital driving licence: What is it and how does it work?

France’s pivot to an increasingly digital future is continuing apace and next thing to be 'dematerialised' is driving licences.

France’s new digital driving licence: What is it and how does it work?
Checking a driving licence in France could look a little different in future. (Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP)

France is set to roll-out a digital driving licence from the beginning of next year, the Agence nationale des titres sécurisés (ANTS) has confirmed.

What is it?

It’s exactly what it says in the headline. It’s a certified digital version of your French driving licence that you can access via a smartphone if you need it. If you don’t yet have a French licence, you cannot use this.

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

Can’t I just take a photo of mine?

No. Well, yes, you could. But no. The thing is, a photo on your phone won’t  be a certified digital version of your licence. Importantly, the police will be able to scan the official digital version of your licence to ensure it is legitimate, in a manner similar to the Covid-19 vaccine passports (remember those?).

Do I have to rid of my photocard or paper card?

No. In fact, you should keep hold of it. It is not mandatory to have the digital version in France. It’s just a more accessible version of it using equipment you’re likely to have with you, so you can leave the actual licence at home

“This dematerialised licence will never replace the physical version but will come as a complement to simplify the lives of citizens who are fond of digital administrative procedures,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, told Le Parisien. 

This “certified copy” will be useful “in the fight against identity theft, but also to facilitate obtaining, for example, a power of attorney,” he added.

Furthermore, the digital version will – for now – only be accepted in France, so if you plan to drive abroad, you’ll still need your physical licence. 

Okay, then, how do I get my digital driving licence?

You can’t yet. Digital licences will first be trialled in the Rhone, Hauts-de-Seine and Eure-et-Loir departments towards the back end of the year, before being rolled out nationwide from early 2024.

What about data security?

Good question. And one officials think they have the answer to. The only way to get hold of and store a digital driving licence will be via the official France Identité app. This already exists for Android phones on Google Store. 

An iPhone version is in beta testing and will, officials say, be available soon.

That’s good. But how do I get it when it becomes available?

Assuming the process is the same as for an ID card, after you have downloaded the app, you will need:

  • An modern chipped driving card in credit card format which contains a secure chip with your information (surname, first name, date of birth, photo, etc);
  • A smartphone compatible with NFC “contactless” technology. 

For most people, this won’t be a problem. If you have an iPhone, all models are compatible since the iPhone 7 launched in 2016. On the Android side, all phones capable of running Android 8 are – in theory – compatible.

Then you scan the photo side of your card using the app. 

After doing that, you need to transfer the data stored on your licence’s chip. You do this as you would making a contactless payment using your bank card, by putting your driving licence close to your phone. Be patient – the actual data transfer process takes a little longer than making a contactless payment, but not much. 

Once you see a blue tick appear on the screen, with the confirmation: “lecture terminée”, you can move on to step three, creating a confidential code to access your digital licence.

This step requires you to prove your identity – you can do this via the France Identité app, or through your secure log-in to health insurance site Ameli or by asking your friendly neighbourhood La Poste delivery person to confirm your identity.

What if I don’t want to use this?

No-one is forcing you, this is in addition to the physical licence, not instead of. If you prefer to keep things paper-based (well actually the licence photocard is plastic) you can carry on using your physical licence. 

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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?