What to do if a vehicle is stolen?

Verified 14 December 2023 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

The theft of a vehicle (car, motorbike, bicycle...) must be reported to the police or gendarmerie as soon as possible. You must also report the theft to your insurer within the time limit set out in your contract. We explain the steps to take.

Step-by-step approach

If the theft is in progress or has just been committed, you must call the 17.

The police or gendarmerie can send officers to intervene.

In case of theft of the vehicle (car, motorcycle, bicycle, trailer...) in your garage, don't touch anything before the arrival of the police or gendarmerie who can make scientific findings (fingerprints...).

Please note

If you can no longer find your vehicle, before declaring the theft, make sure it has not been released pound.

If your vehicle has been stolen, you must promptly complain. Your criminal liability and civil can be charged until the filing of a complaint if offenses are committed with your vehicle (cyclist hit, robbery of a business...).

If the certificate of registration was stolen at the same time as the vehicle, you must report it in a flight declaration.

For the theft of insurance documents you must report the vehicle to the police or gendarmerie to obtain a receipt. This document allows you to travel legally if your vehicle is found before a duplicate is issued by your insurer.

Your driving license was stolen at the same time as your vehicle, you must file a complaint. A receipt is given to you to allow you to drive in France. It is valid 2 months.

If your vehicle has an anti-theft GPS tracker, you can indicate it when reporting it to the police or gendarmerie.

Only the owner of the vehicle can file a complaint because he is the victim of the robbery.

If you've lent your vehicle to a friend and he's had it stolen, that friend can report it to the police or the gendarmerie, but he can't file a complaint for you.

If someone in your family (parent, child or unseparated spouse) borrows your vehicle without your consent, you cannot file a theft complaint because thefamilial immunity applies.

On the spot

You must surrender in a police station or to the gendarme of your choice.

Who shall I contact


Police or gendarmerie services are obliged to register your complaint if you are a victim of an offense.

The officers and judicial police officers must receive your complaint even if the facts do not fall within their geographical area of jurisdiction.

At the end of your hearing by the police or gendarmerie, you receive a receipt and a copy of your complaint if you request it.


You don't know the perpetrator

You can fill out a pre-complaint.

The pre-complaint can be made online using the following service:

Online Pre-Complaint

Then you need to sign your complaint on the spot in a police station or a gendarmerie brigade that you choose.

The police or gendarmes already have the elements of your complaint when you arrive.

They must register your complaint if you are a victim of a crime.

You know the perpetrator

You cannot use the pre-complaint online. You need to file a complaint on-site or by post.

By mail

You can file a complaint with the public prosecutor.

To do this, you must send an email to the court of law of the place of the offense or of the domicile of the offender.

Who shall I contact

Your mail should include the following:

  • Your marital status and full contact information (address and telephone number)
  • Detailed account of the facts, date and place of the offense
  • Name of the alleged perpetrator if known (otherwise, the complaint will be filed against X)
  • Names and addresses of any witnesses to the offense
  • Description and provisional or definitive estimate of the damage
  • Your proof documents: medical certificates, work stoppages, miscellaneous invoices, findings...
  • Your eventual willingness to become a civil party

You can use the following mail template:

File a complaint with the public prosecutor

You can send your complaint by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt, by simple letter or by letter followed.

You can also file your complaint directly at the courthouse.

In any case, a receipt is given to you as soon as the Public Prosecutor's Office has registered your complaint.

Consequences of filing a complaint

Your complaint results in the registration of your vehicle at the register of objects and vehicles reported (FOVeS) and vehicle registration system (SIV) law enforcement.

The FOVeS facilitates searches and checks by the police, gendarmerie and customs for the discovery and return of stolen vehicles to the owners.

The Vehicle Registration System (VRS) is searchable by law enforcement. Any new application for registration of this vehicle is then blocked.

The police or gendarmerie can also consult the Pound and Fixed Asset Register.

This register allows the registration of vehicles impounded or immobilized by law enforcement following an offense and vehicles found wrecked.


on request of its owner, a bicycle can be identified and marked with a unique number that allows registration on Bicycode. The police and gendarmerie have access to the National Unique Register of Identified Cycles (UNCIF).

You must report the flight to your assurance within the time limit set by your contract.

This period must be at least 2 working days from the time of the facts or from the time you became aware of them.

The declaration to the insurance makes it possible to relieve you of your responsibility if your stolen vehicle driver causes an accident or damages property.

The insurer may ask you for a copy of your complaint.

Please note

if your vehicle was parked at your home, you can also report this theft to your home insurance. This can cover theft-related damage, depending on your contract (e.g. garage door degraded).

If your insured vehicle is not found within the time limit set out in your insurance contract, usually 1 month, you can ask your insurer to be compensated.

The compensation is against the delivery of the keys and the certificate of registration of the vehicle.

If you are unable to obtain insurance compensation, you can contact the Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Crime (Civi). To do so, theft must have caused serious problems in your life and your income must not exceed certain limits.

Please note

your registration certificate remains valid if your vehicle is later found.

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