Driving Abroad: Clean Air Stickers

Driving Abroad: Clean Air Stickers

Did you know that drivers in Paris, Lyon and Grenoble must display clean air stickers (Crit’Air) or they could be subject to a frustrating ‘on the spot’ fine.

If you’re travelling to France and plan to take the car into central Paris you now need to display an Air Quality Certificate sticker (vignette) which shows the emission standard of your car.

It’s part of an initiative to allow local authorities to control air pollution from motor vehicles by favouring those that pollute the least.

Although not mandatory outside of the restricted city zones, lower polluting cars which display the stickers may benefit from favourable parking (from 2018) or favourable traffic conditions i.e. an authority may choose to restrict vehicles of certain classes during air pollution peaks. The scheme was introduced to Lyon and Grenoble in 2017.

How to purchase your Crit’Air sticker

Purchasing the Crit’Air sticker is relatively simple. Applications can be made online, in English, on the French government’s website. We also found this FAQ in English which explains the details of the scheme clearly. It costs €3.70 plus postage to order.

Before applying, you need to find the Euro class emission standard for your car. This should be stated on your VC5 registration document (for newer cars) but can also be easily looked up on Parkers car spec finder – you’ll need the make and model of your vehicle to hand.

In Paris, the scheme only applies within the peripherique city boundary, therefore if you’re taking the car to Disneyland but don’t plan to drive in central Paris, you won’t need to display it.

However, if you travel regularly to France, it’s probably wise to check where else in the country the scheme is being rolled out to, as the plan is to ramp up the restrictions. Once you buy your vignette, it’s valid for as long as its legible, so could be a sound investment for future trips.

Look out for the above signs in Paris. The red version shows where a zone starts and the other where it ends. It’s likely the signage will include another ‘Interdite’ sign which will give more specific information on the Crit’Air restrictions that apply.

Across Europe there are 200 low emission zones with other ‘sticker’ schemes in place, so it’s advisable to check your route if you’re travelling across the continent to ensure you don’t fall foul of any local rules.

Failure to display the Crit’Air sticker in a clear visible place on your vehicle (i.e. your windscreen) within the designated zones could subject you to an ‘on the spot’ fine of £120. And yes, this applies to foreign cars, holiday makers et al. So probably best not to make an unplanned dent in your holiday budget for the sake of an online application and a fiver!

For more driving tips in France, read our handy motoring guide.

Bon voyage!

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