BRITS living in France could be slapped with a £12,000 fine if they don’t take a French driving test.
Thousands of motorists face losing their licence as no post-Brexit agreement has been reached with the French on the matter.
The French government previously announced that Brits living in the country would have to exchange their UK licence for a French one.
Ex-pat drivers have been left in a “nightmarish” situation with commuters fearing they risk losing their jobs and others concerned they may even have to move back to the UK.
Some could face being hit with a hefty fine – as the penalty for driving without a valid licence in France can be up to €15,000 (£12,800).
Those who comply or are forced to retake their test in France will have to complete mandatory lessons, as well as a theory test in the French language.
Expat Kim Cranstoun, who moved to France permanently three years ago, told of “desperate” situation the agreement deadlock has caused in a Facebook groups for Brits living in the country.
“I’d say there are 3,000 who are seriously worried – for whom this has really become nightmarish,” she said.
“Commuters risk losing their jobs, tradespeople can’t work, elderly people have missed medical appointments.
“Many British people in France live in quite remote, rural areas, with little or no public transport.
“Some are thinking of moving back to the UK. It’s quite desperate.”
As a potential no-deal Brexit loomed back in 2018, some 100,000 applied to trade in their British licence for a French one.
In April 2019, French authorities said British licences would be valid in the country for as long as the UK was an EU member in a bid to curb the number of exchange requests being made.
I’d say there are 3,000 who are seriously worried – for whom this has really become nightmarish
But many Brits who waited until after the Brexit transition period at the end of December to start the process have been caught out by lack of post-Brexit agreement.
Many have been now left with soon to expire licences, or ones that already have, without being able to start the exchange process.
Even for those who put their application in before January, frustration mounts thanks to the system becoming overwhelmed.
According to government sources, a UK-France reciprocity agreement is “close to being sealed”, reports the Guardian.
The British Foreign Office website states that UK licences will “continue to be recognised in France until 31 December 2021” – but that the rules for exchanging licences “have not been confirmed”.
“People followed both governments’ instructions, and are now being punished through no fault of their own,” Cranstoun added.
“This is having a massive impact, on working people and pensioners.
“Unless it’s sorted, we’ll have to take French tests.”