Towing Trailers | Regulations in France

Towing Trailers Regulations in France

Trailer Chassis Plate Terminology

PTAC manufacturers certificated gross weight of trailer plus load or gross weight of vehicle including load, driver and any passengers

PTRA maximum manufacturers certificated train weight of the vehicle including load and passengers
Example - if the PTRA of your vehicle is 3000 Kg and the PTAC is 2010Kg you are permitted to tow a total weight of 990 Kg (3000 - 2100 = 990) This total weight is that of your trailer plus any load.

Regulations in France

These regulations apply to trailers being towed with a French registered vehicle regardless of what nationality of license is held by the driver.

Any trailer with a PTAC superior to 500 kilograms is required to be registered and insured separately from the towing vehicle. The trailer is provided with a certificate d`immatriculation (carte grise) which carries the identification and load capacity of the trailer together with it own individual registration number. It is obligatory that these details are also displayed on the trailer chassis plate. To tow a trailer with a French registered vehicle you are required to abide by these rules. It is also advisable to notify your insurer that you intend to tow a trailer. The penalty for exceeding the PTAC of trailer and or PTRA* of the towing vehicle is a class 4 fine of €130 (unless paid immediately or within 3 days when it is reduced to €90). If the overweight is more than 20% this becomes a 5th class infringement and renders you liable to a fine of €1500 and the possibility that your vehicle will be immobilized or impounded . In addition should you be involved in an accident even if it is not your fault your insurance will be invalid. 

Regulations on Driving licences and Towing for Holders of a French Driving Licence
To tow a trailer of more then 500 kilograms PTAC it is necessary to hold a license with class E/B the only exception to this is if the PTAC of the trailer is equal or less than the unladen weight of the towing vehicle and the total of the PTAC of the trailer plus the PTRA of the towing Vehicle is less than 3500 kilograms . If the PTAC of the trailer is is greater than the unladen weight of the towing vehicle or the total PTAC of the trailer plus towing vehicle is more than 3500 kg a licence class E/B is required. The penalties for infringing these regulations are heavy and include immobilization of the vehicle.

To hold a class E/B a medical is required every five years under age 60 every two years over age sixty and annually after age 70. These medical certificates are issued at a current cost of €24.40 by doctors specified by the préfecture who will usually provide a list on request.

Other Notes
To obtain a license E/B it is necessary to take a trailer test. However, holders of UK licenses who change to a French licence will have this class transferred if it is on their UK license.
The maximum permissible length of a trailer and its load plus towing attachment is 18 metres with a trailer length of 12 metres not including the drawback. There are exceptions for fairground trailers subject to préfectoral permission.

Supplementary Mirrors
These are obligatory if the trailer masks the interior mirror or is wider than the towing vehicle. They must not be more than 20cm wider than the trailer
Lighting requirements - Two red rear lights, fog rear light on the left hand side (as opposed to the UK) two triangular red reflectors at the rear, square orange reflectors at the side and white reflectors at the front. Two rear stop lights if the trailer is over 500 kg or if the trailer masks the lights of the towing vehicle. A reversing light is not obligatory.

Trailers of up to 750 kg PTAC are not required to have a braking system as long as the PTAC of the trailer is less than the weight of the vehicle
Trailers with a PTAC of less than 3500 kg can be equipped with an over run braking system to all wheels it is also obligatory to have a safre câble which will apply the handbrake in the event of the trailer accidentally parting from the towing vehicle.

Carriage of Passengers It is illegal to carry any passengers in a trailer.

Towing Speed Limits in France
Up to a train weight of 3500 kg the speed limits for towing remain the same as for a normal vehicle except where specific limits are indicated (usually on steep declines) Above this weight a limit of 110kmh applies on autoroutes.

Information correct as at 1st January 2008. No responsibility for any errors and omissions. These notes are for guidance only.

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