France – Does Size Matter? Well in the world of French motorcycles and number plate size apparently size does matter.
Even though our semi-permanent base is now in France, our interest in following motorcycle technical issues still abound, so we do pick up what must be the most continuous changes of rules and regulations, through legislative decrees, from the Ministry of the Interior, all which appear to be in constant flux.
Our interest in this is also slightly self-centred as we start the process of permanently importing our UK registered bike to France, starting with filling in the Demande De Certificat D’immatriculation D’un Véhicule form – requesting a Certificate of Conformity – change of headlight – tax exemption certificate – then to the Prefecture with all the necessary paperwork e.g. Proof of identity – passport – proof of address – utility bill – payment.
Following this, it’s send the vehicle export section of the V5 (log book) back to the UK Licensing authorities (DVLA) and then sort insurance out and with the necessary paperwork – Cartes Grises – get a number plate fitted by an authorised “professional”, which must be riveted in place by law not screwed on a standard plate holder – not inclined above 30°. What could possibly go wrong?
Number Plate Decree
We have just fallen on the right side of the implementation of the new decree, announced in October 2015, that states – motorcycles of “all sorts” whether presently in use, sold new or second hand, will have to change their number plates to a standard size from 1st July 2017.
The legislation is that all motorized two-wheelers (motorcycle, scooter, moped) number plate must be of a standard size – 210 x 130 mm with a standard format of lettering and identification marks, the fine for non-conformity is a 4th class fine of 135€ with the possible immobilisation of the vehicle.
Now we are not just talking about new motorcycles, but according to the riders groups here in France including FFMC (Fédération Française des Motards en Colère), this decree includes all two-wheelers, including those registered before July 2015, meaning old motorcycles, scooters and mopeds that already have a plate, whose plates are not in the standard format, will have six months to buy a plate with the right dimensions.
According to ACEM – European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers – market data in 2014 there was 3,015,223 (Circulating parc figures – latest figures available) mopeds (1,272,214) and 1,743,009 motorcycles in France, assuming that figure does not include motor tricycles and quadricycles), that is a massive amount of mopeds and motorcycles that will require new number plates.
It would appear to be a good time to be in the number plate business.
There is some debate whether this is retrospective to older bikes registered before 2015, when the plate size was officially 170 x130mm and legal until now. However we got lost in google translate and its literal translation, apparently previously there was six different sizes of plates that could be fitted.
We did ask some riders, who just happen to be from FFMC, especially around older classic bikes, in the UK an age related plate (silver lettering – black background) can be fitted to older bikes and the organisation who represent, “Véhicules anciens” and their riders.
According to what we have been told it is just not motorcycles that are affected. From 2020, all vehicles in circulation for example those with old “departmental” registration, will have to be registered in the national SIV system (Système d’Immatriculation des Véhicules) with the 2 letters-3 numbers-2 letters. However there may be some form of derogation of colour and format tolerated for vehicles registered as CG (Grey Card Collection) minimum age 30 years.
We did contact the Federation Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA) and their French counterpart Federation Francaise Des Vehicules D’Epoque (FFVE) but apart from sending a reminder and a response that the information had been passed on, we have yet to hear back.
The reason given by French authorities for the changes to number plates is that, according to FFMC, the authorities are not hiding behind the usual reasons of road safety to explain their decision.
According to the National Interministerial Road Safety Observatory (ONISR), 2WD users travel on average faster than motorists (+10 km/h) adding that, “The standardization of license plates will simplify the control of law enforcement and will allow the equality of treatment of the users with respect to the radars (Speed cameras).”
FFMC comment that, “Meanwhile, the public road network is deteriorating, roads are becoming more and more expensive and the state is reaping millions of euros thanks to the repression that does not produce any effect in the statistics of safety”.
“By stacking up unnecessary and binding decrees and decrees for road users, the surge of road repression has reached limits that are no longer acceptable.”
FFMC and other rider groups as you may imagine, are not happy about this and FFMC with short notice, organised a couple of demonstrations one being in Paris with 300 riders on a rainy day.
The demonstrated was not just against the number plate legislation but also regarding mandatory Crit’Air sticker as regards emissions, older motorcycle bans from emission/congestion zones, mandatory wearing of CE approved gloves.
The demonstration consisted of a slow ride on a section of the outer Paris ring road.
At each fixed speed camera site the demonstrators stopped to cover the radars with black bin bags fixed with duct tape to prevent them from flashing vehicles. The reported goal was to stigmatize these money-laundering radars, “which serve only to bail out the coffers of a government seeking financial resources.”
There were, speeches including from Didier Renoux from FFMC, who was wearing a T-shirt, a pair of underpants, a helmet and a pair of gloves … addressing (pun intended) the demonstration he said that, “So dressed, I have the right to ride my motorcycle! I have my legs and arms bare but I have the right because I have a pair of homologated gloves and a helmet … These obligations are ridiculous!”
As stated above, as we register our bike in France and will be riding mainly in France on French roads what can possibly go wrong?
Hopefully it does include a pair of underpants – but I am covered as a member of FFMC to protest and be represented!
Sources – Information
FFMC – Fédération Française des Motards en Colère – Interdictions de circulation, nouvelles règles de conformité des véhicules, les motards manifestent le 1er juillet
FFMC- Fédération Française des Motards en Colère – Répression un jour, répression toujours !
Automobile Club association – Deux-roues motorisés : uniformisation des plaques d’immatriculation
ACEM – EU Market Data