Vehicles registered in the French special series "431 K ..." and "431 CD ..."

CERN/DSU-DO/RH/10922 - 23 avril 2002, updated on August 30, 2010.

1. Registration

a) Entitlement

Only members of the personnel holding a Carte spéciale (AT or FI series) or a Carte diplomatique (CD series), issued by the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (hereinafter "MAEE"), are entitled to register vehicles in the "431 K ..." or "431 CD ..." special series (green plates).

It is compulsory to register in one of these series vehicles that have been purchased or imported free of tax and/or customs duty.  In the event of standard registration at a later date, the duty and/or tax will have to be paid on the basis of the currently applicable rates and the vehicle's residual value.

Registration in one of these series is optional if the duty and/or tax has been paid in a European Union Member State. In this case, you are strongly recommended to retain documentary evidence of payment and pass this on to any subsequent buyer of the vehicle. This documentation will be required if a standard registration needs to be issued. Without it, the duty and/or tax will have to be paid again on the basis of the currently applicable rates and the vehicle's residual value on the date when the new registration formalities are completed.

N.B. : The special series "431 K ... Z" and "431 CD ... Z", reserved for vehicles on which the duty and/or tax has been paid in a European Union Member State, were abolished on 1 January 2001. Vehicles already registered in these series may nonetheless keep their plates.

b) Time limit after installation

Persons taking up residence in France must complete the formalities for the registration of their vehicle as soon as they receive their Carte spéciale or Carte diplomatique.

c) Number of vehicles

The number of vehicles allowed to be registered simultaneously in the special series is limited to:

  • one vehicle for holders of a Carte spéciale;
  • one vehicle for holders of a Carte diplomatique who either are unmarried or have a spouse who does not hold a spouse's Carte diplomatique (for instance because he/she is of French nationality, or has a Carte spéciale or Carte de séjour préfectorale);
  • two vehicles for other holders of a Carte diplomatique.

d) Types of vehicle

Contrary to their former practice, the French authorities only allow certain types of vehicles to be registered in the special series, for instance passenger cars or two-wheeled vehicles. Motor caravans and vans, in particular, are excluded.

e) Replacement of a vehicle

A vehicle registered in the special series cannot be replaced until a period of two years has elapsed. This period starts on the date on which the Direction générale des Douanes et Droits indirects (hereinafter "DGDDI") authorises the registration.

This rule shall not apply:

  • in the event of duly registered accident, theft or force majeure, or
  • if the vehicle was registered before 1 January 2002.

Age and wear-and-tear do not constitute grounds for an exception to the rule.

f) Registration procedure

The procedure is as follows:

  • submit an authorisation application to the MAEE and DGDDI via the Installation Service of the General Infrastructure Services Department ;
  • once the authorisations have been obtained, apply for a registration certificate ("carte grise") at the French Customs office in Ferney-Voltaire (rue de Genève, tel. :;
  • the certificate is issued by the Gex Sous-Préfecture and sent by post to the home of the person concerned.

N.B. :  Since these formalities take several weeks to complete, in certain specific cases, the French authorities permit temporary registration in the "WW" series (consult the Installation Service for more information). In this case, the person concerned takes the application for a temporary registration certificate, prepared by the Installation Service and stamped by the French Customs office in Ferney-Voltaire, to the Gex Sous-Préfecture (26, rue Charles Harent, Gex;  tel.  The certificate is issued on the spot.

2. Roadworthiness test (contrôle technique)

Vehicles registered in special series are exempt from the French roadworthiness test ("contrôle technique").

3. Driving

Only the holders of a valid Carte spéciale (AT or FI series) or Carte diplomatique (CD series) are entitled to drive vehicles registered in the "431 K ..." or "431 CD ..." special series. This means, notably, that French nationals and holders of a Carte de séjour préfectorale or an Attestation de fonctions issued by the MAE (FR, AR or CR series) are forbidden to drive such vehicles.

The French authorities make no exceptions to this rule and any infringement is punishable.