Home Culture France’s car pollution stickers: know before you go

France’s car pollution stickers: know before you go

by David 17th March 2017

Driving through Paris, Lyon, Lille and Grenoble? You’ll need a Crit’Air sticker to avoid a fine. This is all you need to know to make sure your journey through France‘s busiest cities gets a clean bill of health. 

With air pollution firmly on the agenda, the whole of Paris, Lyon, Lille and Grenoble have now become restricted driving zones. If you’re planning to drive into these cities, you’ll need a Crit’Air sticker on your windscreen, displaying how polluting your car is.

They ranging from green – Crit’Air 1, electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, to dark grey/black for cars with the highest emmissions. Each level has its own coloured sticker to make it easier for authorities to spot them. When pollution levels spike, so-called ‘dirtier’ cars will be banned from entering these cities completely.

You’ll need to apply for a sticker by registering your vehicle’s details at the French government’s website. Please allow enough time for the sticker to be delivered prior to your departure. If you don’t have one, you could face a fine.

Our advice

If you can, try to use public transport if you want to spend a day in the country’s busiest cities. It’s faster, cheaper (parking can be very expensive, and hard to find) and will get you around these cities with ease. But, if they’re just en route – go around, not straight through the middle! Those extra miles will be worth it to save sitting in traffic and creating pollution.

According to the RAC, at least 20 other French towns and cities are looking at introducing the scheme in the next few years, so – as the sticker is for life – it pays to plan ahead and get your car registered now.

Crit’Air stickers: The things you need to know now

Types of Crit'Air sticker, graded from 1 to 5

1) Older cars are banned completely between 8am and 8pm

Monday to Friday. Petrol cars registered before 1996 and diesel cars registered pre-2006 are banned from moving around the French capital and the other cities on weekday daytimes.

2) The whole of Paris is included in the Crit’Air sticker zone

That’s everything within what’s known as the Boulevard périphérique, or the ring road. This goes by various official names, depending on where you are on its route. It’s the ‘E15’ in the east, the ‘Bois de Boulogne’ in the west, and ‘Bois de Vincennes’ in the South east part of the city. But most online maps clearly show it as the Boulevard périphérique.

3) If you’re driving around the Boulevard périphérique you won’t need a sticker

They only come into force when you exit from it into the city. A similar demarcation zone is in place in Lyon and Lille (but restrictions will only come into force on bad air days). If you’re unsure, look out for the signs (pic below) when you’re entering and leaving the zone.

Road signs tell you when you enter and leave a restricted zone

4) The sticker costs €4.41 for foreign-registered vehicles

That’s around £3.90. Don’t be tempted to buy one from an unofficial site – many of them charge a hefty mark up.

5) The fines come into effect on 31 March 2017

From that date on, your vehicle will need to display a sticker when travelling into Paris and the other cities mentioned.

6) Vehicles bearing a parking card for disabled persons are exempt

But they do need to display a valid disability badge, and be used for transporting the person to whom the badge is issued.

7) You could be fined €68 for driving without a Crit’Air sticker

Or if you drive in a restricted zone when you shouldn’t, for example if you drive an older diesel in central Paris.

8) Tell your car hire firm if you’re driving through these cities

If you’re driving through Paris, Lille, Grenoble or Lyon in a hire car, you must tell the rental company. It’s their responsibility to ensure the car has the appropriate sticker. As you don’t own the car, it’s impossible for you to obtain one, as the stickers are sent to the car’s registered address.

9) You need to upload a scan of your registration document to apply

The file size is to 400KB, which is quite small. You might need to shrink your file using photo editing software or a resizing site. Converting the image to a PDF format helps reduce it.

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