In a bid to fight air pollution cities in France have introduced a Low Emission Zone scheme whereby all vehicles must display a Crit Air Sticker determining its carbon emissions. Failure to do so will result in a fine currently ranging from €68 to €135 euros.
In this article we covered which vehicles need them, where to buy them from at the best price, where to place on your vehicle and how long the process takes from start to finish.
The scheme started some years ago and only covered Paris, but now as the number of cities insisting on them is growing rapidly, so only now it seems are UK drivers starting to realise they need them.
For our guide for driving in France see our driving in France see our checklist
Police were originally advised to show leniency with the policy in its infancy but those days are long gone.There are also complete bans in Paris from 0800 – 2000hrs on weekdays for the following
• Cars registered prior to 1997
• Motorbikes & Scooters registered prior to June 1st 2000
• Lorries, trucks and buses registered prior to 2001
The policy hopes to combat the rising cost of urban air pollution to public health which claims an estimated 48,000 lives per annum. As the pollution levels of the city are monitored the plan is to restrict the higher polluting vehicles at times when the air quality is at its worst.
Paris has suffered with increasing smog levels and this move is seen to be more effective than previous short term measures of allowing free public transport and general vehicle restrictions.
Such measures are commonplace across Europe with around 200 towns and cities using similar schemes to control their air quality as best they can.
As those of you who have visited Paris before will know, the centre is very compact and rammed with cars and scooters, so there is a general weary consensus in the capital that this plan is necessary although some motoring groups aren’t best pleased and would like some amendments; in particular the scope for modified vehicles registered before 1997 to be allowed into the city.
British visitors should pay heed to the requirements if they wish to avoid the fines. As previously mentioned, the police have been instructed to show leniency as the measures were only announced in late 2016 but it shouldn’t be taken as a given that all you’ll end up with is a little slap on the wrist if you fail to comply with the regulations.
Hopefully most visitors will agree that an attempt to clean up the air of our major cities is worth the minor inconvenience of ordering a £4.25 sticker online and displaying it while you are abroad. After all, it’s really no different than displaying a UK sticker on your vehicle or carrying the other items required as we drive through France.
Whether this policy works or not remains to be seen but data from Berlin, which has had a similar scheme since 2008 has shown that it probably will. So this scheme isn't going away.
The sticker lasts for the lifetime of the vehicle, which is a small mercy. Anyway I hope you found this useful.