In a bid to reduce air pollution Paris has introduced a scheme whereby all vehicles must display a sticker determining its carbon emissions. Failure to do so will result in a fine currently ranging from 68 to 135 Euros. (For all the other items you need to drive legally in France see our Checklist page)
Police have been advised to show leniency with the policy in its infancy but all drivers should be aware of the requirement to display the correct “Crit’Air” sticker if driving through Paris and some other major French cities. (Lyon, Lille and Grenoble are running schemes with more cities sure to follow suit)
There are six different categories ranging from the cleanest vehicles (electric & hydrogen vehicles) at 1 up to the highest polluting diesel vehicles at 6.
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 stickers can be obtained online and the website “https://www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/” has recently been updated to include most European languages to make ordering as easy as possible. They cost 4 Euros, so around the £3.50 for British users. To go straight to the ordering page click here: https://www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/demande-ext/cgu/
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 £3.50 sticker online and displaying it while you are abroad. After all, it’s really no different than displaying a GB sticker 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 began a similar programme in 2008 has seen a rise in air quality and an increase in cleaner vehicles, so the outlook is a positive one.