I would not be where I am at today with this process if it were not for Kim and her dedication to the Facebook group: Applying for a French Diver’s License. It is only thanks to this woman’s diligence, dedication and willingness to give of her time that I have been able to successfully submit my application to exchange my driver’s license. Do yourself a favor and join the group. You will thank me later.
Topics of Discussion
Exchanging your license
You’ve arrived in France and you’re looking at the list of administrative steps you’ve created for yourself and you’ve reached “exchange driver’s license”.
First off, take a peek at the French government’s website here for the most up to date information. It can get a little iffy on certain times when you are allowed to exchange your license, especially coming from the States. There is a list of reciprocal states that allow you to exchange without having to retake any tests. This list is in French, but you’ll get the drift.
As of August 4, 2020, all requests to exchange your license are now made ONLINE at the following website : ANTS
If your license is on the list of reciprocal states, then you are in luck! I’m going to walk you through my experience with the ANTS system and the steps I took to successfully submit my application.
Gathering Your Documents
The following is an experience of a valid Ohio, USA license being exchanged for a French permis de conduire. I am from a state that is part of the reciprocal program for license exchanges. I do not have knowledge or experience with a non-reciprocal state.
Obtaining Your Driving Record
This is pretty straight forward. You should be able to request a certified copy of your driving record from your state’s BMV. I’m from Ohio and I was able to obtain a 3-year certified driving record. I had this sent to my parent’s house, because it wasn’t an option to send it internationally. Plus my parents had other important documents to send me via UPS.
This cost me $5.00 and I had it within a week.
If you are ordering your record from France, you may need a VPN to access the site. I had issues and could only connect while on a VPN.
Proof of Residence in France
Your proof of residency is considered your titre de séjour. I learned from my mistake of not including it with my healthcare application. I needed to include my visa validation letter as well. This is the letter you should have gotten when you validated your visa when you first arrived in France.
I uploaded the first page of my visa, as well as the visa page and the next page that had my date stamp of entry. I also uploaded the two pages of my visa validation letter.
Digital Signature and Photo
Again, thank you Facebook!
There is this fabulous application that you can download on your phone called Photo Identité -Smartphone ID application. This application guides you through, step-by-step what you need to do to get a good photo. I highly recommend having someone help you take the photo.
You can submit the photo directly from the application and it will tell you if it is accepted or rejected. My first attempt was rejected within 15 minutes. I retook the photo and the second photo was accepted. About an hour or so after I submitted my second photo, I received an email with my digital code, a copy of my photos and the option to order more (to be printed at my local post office). It will cost you 5€ for you digital code and photo. This is the same price as you would pay if you went to the photomaton.
I used this code to during my application and this serves as your signature. I also was able to upload the photos that came along with the signature code.
You can also choose to do this at any of the photomaton booths that have the blue AGRÉÉ ANTS sticker on the outside. Those can also be used for the photos for your application.
Translating Your Documents
The website for the registered court of appeals translators can be found here. A full list by category of translators is located here. The list is broken down into categories based on the needs of the translation. At the end, translators are listed by the language that is spoken.
Through my searching on Facebook for a previous translation need, I stumbled upon Bilingual Minds. I am quite impressed with the overall experience of their work. I have had the lovely pleasure of exchanging with the same person each time I made an order. Elisha is respectful and charming! They were extremely communicative throughout the whole process.
You are able to upload your documents to the website; you can choose between certified and non-certified translations. Their prices are reasonable and the turn-around time was impressive. The only time I had to wait was for my first order when I was waiting for their bank information to be accepted by bank so I could directly send them money.
I love Bilingual Minds because I get pdf copies by email and then my paper copies come a few days later. The total turnaround time was about 7 to 8 days. I had my digital translations within 3 days of placing my order (and I had to resend photos in those 3 days) and my paper copies within a week!
Submitting Your Application
Now that you have all your docs in a row for your application, you are ready to submit your application online!
First off, you’ll need to create an account on the ANTS website. You can do this one of two ways; the old-fashioned way of singing up through the website itself, or you can use your FranceConnect account. I chose this option and used my Ameli id.
Once you’re in the system, you’ll be taken to your dashboard.
There will be three boxes in the middle of your screen. Once you’re logged in you’ll want to navigate to the Mon Espace Conducteur (My Driver’s Space) and click on the link Demander un permis de conduire (Request a driver’s license). When you click on that link it will immediately take you the first step in the process and you can start clicking away the boxes that meet your situation.
Now this is where you buckle in for the long haul. If your French is not top-notch, I highly recommend having someone who is to sit with you and help you through each step. One wrong selection without your knowledge could result in the rejection of your application.
Once you have entered all your information and uploaded all your documents at the end of the application, you will be asked to review all the previous information is correct before hitting the submit button. Once it’s sent there’s no unsending it!
When you are ready and all your informations is double and triple-checked, hit the submit and breathe a sigh of relief. You should receive an email confirmation shortly after submitting your application with your application number included in it. You can now log back into your account and check the status of your application.
Here, you’ll be able to see where your application is at in the administrative process. I check every evening, just in case the Etat status changes. Currently it is En cours d’instruction (awaiting review). My next step is receiving an email or SMS that I will need to send in my original Ohio driver’s license. Until then, I wait. Patiently. I can’t really tell you how long it will take to receive word for my license, it’s hard to tell, especially at this moment in time. I’m giving myself 6 months and then seeing where I am at in the process. I applied in November 2020 and at the publication of this post it will be 2 months in review.
Some Helpful Hints
If you are a married female, you will need to use your nom de jeune fille (maiden name) in the nom de naissance section. Your maiden name will continue to follow you throughout your French administration adventure for as long as you shall live.
The whole process is pretty straightforward and simple in terms of the online application. You are asked to download all your documents at the end of the application. (Please see Gathering Your Documents section for the total allotted number of pages you are allowed to upload).
If you get an error at any point in your process before you have successfully submitted your application, DO NOT FEAR! Simply save (if you have the option) and return in 24 hours. ANTS is currently overwhelmed due to Covid et Brexit. The system sometimes has a freakout and needs a moment alone to gather its thoughts.
This happened with my code for my digital signature. I kept getting an error notification saying that it did not recognize the code I was entering into the box. I decided to save my progress and wait till 24 hours. Seemed like ANTS was having a bug and I did the right thing, it took my code on the first try the next day.
It’s hard to say how long this process will take. I’ve read accounts where people have been waiting at least 2 years and have been through hell and back. Now that the system is completely online, fingers crossed it is a little more streamlined! But this is the French administration we are talking about, so who knows.
Sending in my Ohio license
On August 5, 2021, some 9 months after I submitted my application, I received a text message saying that in order to finish my online request, I need to send in my original license .
In order to complete this final step, I needed to log back into my ANTS account and follow the updated instructions that were assigned to my application.
When I logged into my account, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the status of my application had changed to à completer (to be completed) and that I was able to click on the actionable item (to the very right of my dashboard status) to access the information needed.
When I clicked on the “to complete” option, I was taken to another screen within my application (that I did not have access to before) that outlined the next steps and what documentation I needed to include with my original license.
What I needed to print out (which was provided to download on this page) was the attestation dépôt sécurisée and the courrier accompagnent permis physique .
The first document is a sworn statement attesting that I am in the process of exchanging my driver’s license. If my Ohio license were still valid (it’s been over a year and I am not allowed to drive on it currently), I would have to keep a copy of this form with a photocopy of my Ohio license in my car.
The second document is what I need to print out and mail with my original license to the address that is noted on the letter. There isn’t anything particular about this second form, just that it allows you the space if you’ve changed address and need to update with your current address. Thankfully we have not moved yet so there’s no problem there.
When you send off your license with the letter of accompaniment, you are asked to do so by lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception (registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt). This will cost you around 6€ and should get to its destination within 2 to 3 days. You will be given a tracking number as well as when the letter arrives at its destination, it will need to be signed for and then a slip will be returned to you.
Now that I’ve sent off my license on 9 August, 2021, I wait again until i receive another text saying the my license has been sent into production and then it will only be a few weeks till I’ll have my french permis de conduire. That would be a nice birthday present, huh ?
The Final Step
On September 14, 2021, 5 weeks after sending in my Ohio driver’s license, I received a text saying that my request for my driver’s license was investigated by the services of the State and that my request has been taken into account.
I knew this text message was a move in the right direction, I did not want to get my hopes up if it was anything but. I went to check my email inbox and found an email from the ANTS service stating that my request to exchange my license had been accepted . In the case where they needed to print my license, it would arrive at my place within 15 days from the email. I had received the golden ticket !
So now, all I do is wait and hope that, possibly, when we get back from vacation that there will be a notice waiting for me that I will need to go to the post office.
All in all, the process was pretty straight forward. I would not have been able to do it without the painstaking work and guidance of Kim over on the Facebook group. Her tireless effort and dedication have made it easy for not only the Brits, but anyone else wishing to make the exchange. The process took 10 months, all around. Just know that every case is different and have patience. hopefully as Brexit moves along, as well as the pandemic, things will even out for ANTS and it won’t be so much of an problem.