What's it with the new number plates?

Later than originally envisaged, and following quite a lot of political opposition (including from Christian Estrosi), the new system of vehicle registration has now come into force. All new vehicles will have a permanent number across their lifetime (2 letters-3 numbers-2 letters on a white background). This, claimed the government, will facilitate police dealing with stolen or suspect vehicles. The opposition arose from the suppression of departmental identity numbers – 06, 83 and so on – on registration plates. Eventually there was a climbdown: car owners may include on their plates a regional symbol (like that of PACA) and – in small numerals – a departmental number, even if it doesn’t indicate the department where they live. As from June 15th this system will apply to vehicles sold on the secondhand market – but, to make the point clear, a registration number is forever, even if there’s a change of owner or domicile.

As most readers are now aware, anyone moving here from another EU country can preserve their car’s original registration, although they must display, where relevant, their contrôle technique certification. Keeping your old British, Dutch or what have you plates may be sentimentally gratifying but it won’t protect you any longer from the consequences if you’re “flashed” for speeding. Fed up with foreigners ignoring limits – the Brits are the second worst offenders after the Germans – Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau says French authorities will track down offenders, either to their home countries or to their homes here. And by the way, the Brits (as often) seem more ready to obey EU edicts on vehicle plates than the French. UK drivers have been warned that Brussels forbids plates to carry regional symbols such as the Welsh Lion.

From Riviera Reporter Issue 133: June/July 2009