The license (Permis de Conduire) in France needed to drive a car is the B type (Permis B). It is a 12 point-based license. Any time a driver is convicted of an infraction his or her B license is deducted the appropriate number of points. When a license no longer has any points the driver must repast the driving exam, both the written and practical. It is possible to recover points through weekend driver training.
With a B type license you can drive a car that has up to 15 CV or a motorcycle with less than 125 cm3 engines.
Starting on March 1, 2004 all new licenses issued will have 6 points. This provisional license - Permis Probatoire will after three years (in some cases only two years) become a full 12-point license.
Process to obtain your French license
- Finding a driving school: shop around as prices can vary from Auto Ecole to Auto Ecole. Not to scare you but schools do got out of business, if yours goes out of business you lose everything you paid. Plus you're going to have to pay another school.
- Start studying for the written test. You decide when to take the written exam. Just remember test dates can be difficult to schedule. Make sure your well prepared when you do take the test. You can take the written exam as often as needed to pass. An Auto Ecole will charge you a flat rate to prepare you for the written exam. To pass the written exam you'll need to get 35 or more questions right out of the 40 asked.
- Once you pass the written exam you'll start studying for the practical (driving) exam. Normally a student will have to do a minimum of 20 hours with a driving instructor. Should you already have an American license (or from another country), you will not have to do the full 20 hours. You'll be able to take the practical exam when your instructor feels your ready.
- Like the written exam, it's for your Auto Ecole to get you a date; they take care of the scheduling. The test will last 20 minutes. The test may consist of parallel parking, a few yield rights, driving the highway or just about anything a driver does. You are graded pass or fail with the practical exam. You may be told immediately that you passed or receive a letter in the mail. When you pass the practical exam you're issued a temporary license. You will have to pick up your license at the Préfectur; you will be mailed a letter when it's ready.