Drivers in France need an emissions sticker to enter famous cities

Drivers travelling to France require an emissions sticker to enter Paris, Lyon or Grenoble

Air pollution means cars with high emissions could be prevented from entering Paris or Lyon

As millions of Britons make plans for their Easter or summer holidays, travellers driving to France must ensure that their car has an emissions sticker when visiting Paris or Lyon – the two largest cities in France.

The sticker system has been introduced to help tackle air pollution in city environments, and is active in Grenoble, Lille, Strasbourg and Toulouse as well. Other French cities are likely to join the scheme.

Called Crit’Air, it effectively bans old cars from city centres during weekdays and will allow authorities to restrict which cars are permitted to enter cities.

Paris’ air quality initiative has been introduced by Anne Hidalgo, the first woman to be appointed mayor of the French capital.

The new Crit’Air scheme came into force in Paris on 22 January. French and foreign registered vehicles must be fitted with one of a range of stickers, or vignettes, based around a colour-coded system that indicates the emissions of cars, lorries, motorbikes and buses.

There are six categories, ranging from the cleanest, Crit’Air 1, to the most polluting, Crit’Air 6.

Stickers cost £3.60 (€4.18) each, including postage, and can be purchased online from the Crit’Air website. The website will accept foreign registered vehicles from 1 February.

British drivers visiting Paris

The UK Government estimates that 17 million British nationals visit France each year. And more Brits visit Paris than any other destination in France. They’re not alone; the city is often rated the world’s most popular tourist destination.

Many British visitors choose to drive, as it’s just a three hour drive from Calais, and two and a half hours from Dieppe.

The new air pollution policy means that British tourists driving their own car into the City of Light for enlightenment, fine dining, culture or to soak up its historic landmarks must display a vignette between 8am and 8pm.

Failing to display a vignette while driving in Paris will result in an on-the-spot fine of between £58 – £117 (€68 – €135).

How does the Crit’Air scheme work?

Drivers travelling to France require an emissions sticker to enter Paris, Lyon or Grenoble

Vehicles wishing to drive in Paris, Lille, Strasbourg, Lyon, Toulouse or Grenoble between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday, must display a Crit’Air vignette.

France’s ministry for the environment and energy has based the sticker system around European Union vehicle emissions standards. These dictate the maximum level of pollutants that vehicles may emit to be certified for sale, and were introduced in 1991, as ‘Euro 1’. The latest, Euro 6, came into force in September, 2015.

All drivers wishing to drive into Paris, Lyon or Grenoble need to check which emissions legislation their car conforms to, and then must buy the corresponding sticker.

When pollution levels become dangerously high, authorities can choose to stop the dirtiest vehicles from entering the city.

Many older cars have not been assigned a category. It means they cannot be driven in Paris, Lyon or Grenoble during the operating hours of the scheme. You can read our guide to the lowest polluting cars, here.

Will other French cities introduce Crit’Air? 

It’s highly likely they will. A total of 22 French cities and towns are considering joining Crit’Air. These include some of the largest, such as Avignon, Bordeaux, Dijon and Rouen.

What other steps might they take?

Ultimately, Paris plans to ban diesel-powered vehicles by 2025, reasoning that they are responsible for the bulk of harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

Are there similar plans for London?

London intends to introduce an ultra low emissions zone (ULEZ) in September, 2020. Authorities say it can help tackle poor air quality, which can be attributed to 9,400 deaths in London each year.

It will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The cleanest cars will be able to drive into the ULEZ for free, but models emitting too much pollution will have to pay a daily charge of £10 – in addition to the current £11.50 Congestion Charge.

Failing to pay the charge will result in a maximum £130 fine for cars, and £1000 for lorries and buses.

21 comments on “Drivers in France need an emissions sticker to enter famous cities

  1. Maureen Burton 02/02/2017 7:26 PM

    I’m planning a trip to France-Where do I apply for one?

  2. Shelle 29/03/2017 1:29 PM

    So we drive to throught france in july passing lyon and grenoble we will however be on the motorway not in the citys do we still need the sticker and we hire a vehicle and cant get info we need untill 2-4 week before travel the sticker apparently take apprix 30 days to arrive so seem were stuffed or mega detours

    • Manager 28/04/2017 5:18 PM

      Applied online and received in UK within 1 week

  3. Ally 29/03/2017 4:34 PM

    But the website is in French so unless you speak French good luck

    • Manager 28/04/2017 5:20 PM

      The website has a button in top right for English. Perfectly clear

  4. Tim 01/04/2017 5:07 PM

    I will be driving to Champigny-sur-Marne, 12.5 km outside Paris and will not be entering the city. Will I still need one?

  5. Saffron 07/04/2017 9:42 AM

    Hi James,
    Do you know how long it takes to receive the sticker?
    Thank you.

  6. martin c 13/04/2017 4:13 PM

    that fine if you speak french

  7. Mick 18/04/2017 11:53 AM

    Do I require a sticker when using the Peripherique?

  8. Tony 23/04/2017 7:00 PM

    Very clever, the site might just as well be in chinese as far as the majority of Europeans are concerned. Another good revenue raiser against the unsuspecting tourist.

  9. Adrian 24/04/2017 12:26 PM

    The website is in English as well as French. Click on the Union Jack top right. It took about 7 days to arrive.

  10. Peter Taylor 27/04/2017 3:59 PM

    Assuming you have a sticker but it is showing a colour over the permitted limit, how do they stop you from entering the city?

  11. chris 02/05/2017 6:33 PM

    After receiving the sticker how long is it valid for 6 months 12 months or as long as you have the vehicle for.

  12. Brian Coombes 14/06/2017 2:20 PM

    I have my ‘Sticker’ but how am I informed as to when the system is in operation & i can not travel through these areas?

  13. Simon Holmes 07/07/2017 11:17 AM

    I am collecting my new car late July and plan to be travelling through Paris the following week. how do I apply for the appropriate certificate prior to receipt of the registration certificate?

  14. Mary marshall 17/09/2017 11:32 AM

    Do you still need a sticker if you are just passing Lyon on the motorway

    • James Mills 18/09/2017 11:55 AM

      No. Only if you go into the city centre.

  15. Jackie Hopwood 02/05/2018 9:35 AM

    what happens if you are using a hire van from a hire company – I have none of the registration documents? or know what documents are required to apply for one?

  16. Chris 17/06/2019 8:55 PM

    Acquiring a crit air sticker is simple and requires a few minutes online, plus payment. My receipt included a disc but the sticker will follow. For now, the piece of paper will be sufficient but as I don’t plan to travel for a few weeks, I will have the sticker before I leave. I also did the same for Germany, Belgium and Spain. My advice is also to get driving permits if you’ll be abroad later this year – just in case Brexit creates issues. Leaver it late and you may find you spend many hours in a very long Post Office queue.

    • trevor 18/07/2019 5:13 PM

      hi how did you upload your v5

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