Motorcycling in France Requirements for 2022

Last Updated Nov 2022
Motorcycling in France
Eurotunnel to France 
New laws have been in force for a while now for motorcyclists and scooter riders, regarding lane splitting and a couple of important requirements while riding in France. 

So, if you've never ridden a motorbike in France, or its been some years since you have, this guide should really be of use to you.

What do I need to ride my motorbike in France?

1. Carry a Hi viz vest or wear leathers with fluorescent strips
2. Have reflective stickers on your helmet*
3. UK sticker (see options below)
4. Wear suitable gloves
5. Driving licence covering the motorcycle you're riding**
6. Your passport (needs at least six months left to run)
7. Insurance documents
8. MOT certificate (if bike is over 3 years old)
9. V5 log book or a VE103 document for rented/hired vehicles
10. A visa if your stay will take you over 90 days in any 180-day period
What do I need to ride my motorbike in France?Buy Now

Motorcycling in France requirements

Here we cover the compulsory and the optional items for motorcycling in France.

Motorcycle Hi Viz

There are two possible fines where Hi Viz vests are concerned. A mildly annoying €11 one and one that will sting a bit for €135.

The €11 fine applies if you get spot checked by police when pulled over and you don’t have one (hi viz) with you.

Where the fine is €135 is if you are caught not wearing it at the roadside (or on the hard shoulder) in the event of an emergency due to an accident, flat tyre, or breakdown. (Pillion passengers need to have one as well)

The introduction of the fine came into force following yet more poor figures on the number of road deaths in France.

This rule also applies to people driving cars, motorhomes etc.

So, unless you have leathers with the Hi Viz strips built in, you need to carry one while riding in France and you must put it on if you breakdown etc.

Hi Viz in France, the law

It seems to have taken an age to finally implement this law as it was originally talked about over 10 years ago. It was up until recently a classic case of “we used to be indecisive but now we’re not so sure” from the French government.

Originally the (former) French Interior Minister, Claude Guéant, wanted to bring this in however under pressure from the French motorcyclist’s pressure group (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers), he backed down.

There are other things you can take along with your Hi-Viz but that are optional not a legal requirement. See optional extras section below.
Motorcycling in France

Helmet stickers for France*

When it comes to legal requirements, I normally err on the side of caution but here I’m going to go against my normal position on these matters. 

It is many years since I've ridden a motorbike, but if I was still riding I doubt I'd put these stickers on a skid lid that cost in excess of £500.  

If you read this section fully, I will try to explain the law and the possible issues you could face. I suggest you read all of this and then make your own mind up.

The law on helmet stickers

What we are certain of is that all new Helmets sold in France now, must come with reflective strips on them. Where it gets a little murky is on older helmets and ones worn by non-French residents.

If you wanted to be ultra-belt-and-braces you could put some on and many do. The law (which is written in French) can be interpreted in different ways which doesn’t help.

Some say you should buy helmet stickers and fit them prior to travelling through France. I would NOT be so certain that, that is exactly what the law is saying.

In truth when this law first came into force, I was advising people to retro fit them, if they were planning on motorcycling in France.

My views are not as certain as they once were though. Here is why.

First, what are the chances of getting pulled for this? Unless you are stopped for speeding, or some other offence, they are highly unlikely to ever stop you and check this.

Secondly many of you spend well over £500 on a helmet, and many bikers would rather risk a small fine than potentially ruin a helmet by sticking permanent aftermarket stickers on it.

I’ve been running the Drive-France website since it started, 2008, (which was prior to this law coming into force) and over the intervening years I’ve spoken to hundreds of bikers and don’t know one who has ever been fined for this.

If you ever do get fined for this or know anyone who has please let me know.

From a safety viewpoint is it a good idea to have reflective strips on your helmet. Yes, it certainly is, and for that I can understand why the French authorities are now insisting manufacturers have these on new helmets.

If they save the life of one biker, then it’s a worthwhile law. If you decide to fit them on your expensive helmet that is your decision, so being cautious I would simply say the choice is yours.

What I will say is, for many years we had a set of helmet stickers in our Motorcycling in France Kit as an “included item”. Now they are merely an optional extra.
Helmet Stickers

Where should I fit helmet stickers

If you do decide to have them, the law originally stated you should have reflective stickers for your helmet in four places - one on the front, one at the back and one on each side.

They must be fitted in a way that doesn't hinder the opening/closing visor of your helmet.

If you really want to, you can buy helmet stickers from us here at Motorcycle Helmet Stickers for France.
Motorcycling in France Requirements

UK stickers for motorcycle

We appreciate - and sometimes even the French police do - that it is very difficult to fit a UK Sticker anywhere on a motorcycle, unless you've got a pannier, boxes or racks which you can fix them to. 

So you have a few options/choices, so just go with what would best do the job for your bike. 

UK sticker options here
UK Number Plate Stickers

Motorcycle gloves, France

It is now the law in France that wearing gloves for motorcyclists, is a mandatory requirement. Though I would guess that most serious riders would be wearing gloves these days without it being compulsory.

You can see a selection of suitable gloves on our sister website here.

See also this new Motorcycling legislation about (lane splitting) riding in-between lanes of stationary traffic in France. People have always done it, but it looks like they might have finally made it legal.

Frequently Asked Q's

Do you have to wear gloves on a motorcycle France?
Yes, you do and pillion passengers.

What are motorcycle gloves good for?
Apart from comfort, keeping out the cold and extra grip in wet conditions, the number one thing is reducing serious hand injuries in the event that you part company with your bike at any great speed. It is instinctive to put your hands out to break your fall. The tarmac will tear your hands to shreds. So good leather gloves are a must.

What is the fine for not wearing gloves in France?
About €75 the last we checked and possibly points on your licence.
Motorcycling Requirements France

What else do I need when riding in France?

Here we show some of the optional extras. They are not a legal requirement but you may want them anyway.

Licence for motorcycling in France**

Mopeds max 80cc - From 16 yrs old and for anything over 80cc’s it’s 18 years old minimum. 

You cannot ride on a provisional licence, end of story.

Other things to consider taking

Of the things below I'd suggest you prioritise headlamp converters (not needed on all bikes, see below) and breakdown cover.
Headlamp Converters
First Aid Kit
Breathalysers
Motorcycle Breakdown Cover

Headlamp converters

Dipped lights must be used at all times, no exceptions and having a faulty bulb may result in an on-the-spot fine. We strongly suggest you check all lights before leaving for France.

It is a legal requirement to have the headlight beam deflected so as not to dazzle other road users. We suggest some of our car ones (see product below) which will do the job, though please be aware that they don’t come with fitting instructions for bikes but you should be able to work it out.

Here at Drive-France we don't pretend to be experts regarding Motorcycles but from what I remember from my youth, bike headlights used to shed their beam forward and to the left on UK bikes and forward and right on European bikes (similar to cars) so as to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic.

I believe though that in more recent years bike headlights just point forward so there is no difference in the direction of the beam between a UK or Euro motorbike. If you have such a bike then headlamp converters wouldn't be required for your bike.

Remember it is compulsory for dipped headlamps to be used day and night when riding in France.

Anyway it is up to you, but we are aware that a lot of newer bikes with "stacked headlights" don't need them. 

However if you have a beam that points left then you really should use the converters as you will be dazzling oncoming traffic.

Try as I might I cannot find any information on the subject of headlamp beams for motorcycles on any official French government website. 

Buy headlamp converters here.
Double-click to edit button text.

First aid kit

You are limited for storage space on a bike but if you want you can have one of these small first aid kits with you. First aid kit here.

Breathalysers 

These are NOT a legal requirement so don't waste your money. That said you'd be amazed how many people still buy them. If you want some, see breathalysers here. 

I personally don't take breathalysers any more because they are no longer a legal requirement (as of January 2020). Though they are still listed as a legal requirement by many websites that sell them.

Read all about the back story to the breathalyser rules and my opinion on it here. Breathalysers do you need them?

Motorcycle breakdown cover

If the bike breaks down in the South of France it is a long way home. If it can't easily be fixed and you need to get it transported home that would be very expensive and not not easy to organise. Motorcycle European Breakdown cover. 

Lane filtering or splitting in France

For many years they had this as illegal but as you'd expect it is/was very difficult to enforce. They ran a pilot test for about 5 years and motorcycle accidents increased (a lot) so they wanted to scrap it. 

However so many bikers were against it they bowed to pressure and extended to pilot test. 

The last I heard it will now run until 2024. They have some pretty extensive guidelines for it, which I will list here, but just take it steady and you should be OK.
Lane Splitting France
Basically you can do it on motorways and dual carriageway that have at least 2 lanes. On roads where both lanes are stationary or moving very slowly. 

You should do it between the two outside lanes on the left (what would be the faster moving traffic if it was flowing freely) 

You are not allowed to exceed 50KPH and should never go 30KPH faster than those you are overtaking. So if traffic is going at 5KPH you shouldn't exceed 35KPH.

If you don't have KPH on your speedo we have Speed Converters that we sell to car drivers but I don't know if you'd have anywhere to fit them on a bike? You should not do it in road works, though most still do and you should not overtake any other bike/scooter who is filtering either. Finally when the traffic gets up to 50KPH you should re-join the lane.
Lane Filtering France
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