Anti-pollution stickers will soon be required for all British-registered vehicles driving in Paris. Find out how they work, how to get one and how they affect your plans to drive in Paris?
British drivers heading to Paris will have to display an anti-pollution sticker in their vehicle from March – with cars first-registered before 1997 banned from the French capital’s streets between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday.
There’s more bad news for diesel drivers heading to the city this summer – with the scheme being extended to diesel cars needing to be first-registered before 2001. Read our full guide here.
Romantic drive in Paris? Don’t forget to get stickered
The sticker scheme, which became mandatory from Monday, January 16, 2017, will force all motorists to display a sticker defining how polluting their car is. .
Six versions of the Crit’Air windscreen-mounted stickers will be issued to clearly state the vehicle’s age, engine size and emissions-related cleanliness.
Older vehicles – including petrol and diesel cars registered before January 1, 1997 will be banned from entering the city between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday – regardless of pollution levels. Idenitical restrictions will apply to light vans first-registered before October 1, 1997.
The new sticker system applies to both domestic and foreign-registered vehicles heading into the city. All vehicles will need to display a sticker – regardless of the current pollution levels – or face fines and restrictions.
How to buy a Crit’Air anti-pollution sticker allowing me to drive in Paris
The French Embassy told us the following when asked how, when and where British and other non-French motorists can buy their Crit’Air stickers for vehicles not registered in France. Please note – you will need to send a scan or photo of your registration document.
Non-French motorists will have until March 31 to buy and display their Crit’Air vignettes – despite French- registered vehicles having to display them since January 16 this year.
The French Embassy told us: “Stickers for vehicles registered outside France can be ordered online from 1 February 2017.
“The website, https://www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/ which will be in various languages, will ask you to enter the necessary information from your vehicle registration certificate and attach a scanned copy of the certificate.”
Scanning problems: Please note, when uploading a copy of your registration document, the file size has now been increased from 200KB to 400KB, which will make it easier for scanning. This remains a relatively small size, so please remember to use photo editing software to optimise the file before attempting to upload. Photoshop and Paint are among the premium and free options available. Instant online optimiser sites are also available – such as imageoptimizer.net. Please note, we are not responsible for external sites.
How long will the Crit’Air sticker take to arrive: Users who’ve applied for a sticker have reported the process to be ‘clunky’ but – ‘tentatively’ –successful. Expect the ‘actual’ sticker to take up to 30 days, but a confirmation email should arrive within two weeks with a slip that can be printed off to prove the vehicle is covered.
Read more about the stickers below.
All you need to know about driving in Paris from January 16, 2017 – and March 31 for foreign-registered vehicles
Here’s our at-a-glance guide to Paris’ Crit’Air anti-pollution vehicle stickers.
British-registered vehicles will need one of these Crit’Air stickers to drive in Paris from March 31
What is the change: All non-emergency vehicles will need to display one of six stickers to show how polluting they are. However, foreign-registered vehicles have a little longer to get their stickers.
What are the Crit’Air stickers for: The stickers, graded from 1 – 5 work with current levels of pollution in the city, so at times of toxic smog for example, the city can ban all or selected vehicles – defined by their Crit’Air rating – from all or selected areas Paris.
Is this a totally new system: No. The stickers are new but will support a policy brought in last summer where all, or selected vehicles can be banned from the Paris when pollution levels spike. The new stickers will simplify this for drivers – and those enforcing the bans – with a vehicle’s status clearly visible on the windscreen. This replaces the odd-even number plate scheme that was previously in operation.
Where does the ‘Crit’Air’ pollution zone apply in Paris: The whole of Paris includes the Crit’Air environmental zone. The city area of Paris is defined without suburbs and includes the area inside the city’s ring road – the “Boulevard périphérique”. This is not an official motorway and is described as ‘E15’ in the Eastern part of Paris, ‘Bois de Boulogne’ in the Western part of Paris and ‘Bois de Vincennes’ in the South east part of the city. Click below to see a map.
View where the Crit'Air restrictions apply in Paris: Click for map
The Crt’Air zone covers most of Paris and all areas inside the city’s ring road
Will I need a Crit’Air (CritAir) anti-pollution sticker for the Paris Ring Road (Boulevard Périphérique): It’s the road that thousands of Brits will use as they motor to the south of France or Alpine ski resorts, but the good news is you WON’T need to buy a Crit’Air anti-pollution sticker to use it.
However, some sat-nav devices may lead drivers to the 18km tunnel that runs beneath the city. Accessing this will need a sticker, so make sure your sat-nav is taking you on the Ring Road, or Boulevard Périphérique, as it is officially known.
Do I need a Crit’Air just for driving in France: No. The Crit’Air pollution stickers work in a similar way to the London Congestion Charge. You will only need to buy and display a sticker if you are planning to drive in Paris – or the cities of Grenoble and Lyon. If not – there’s no need to worry. However, keep an eye out for more cities joining the scheme soon.
When do foreign-registered vehicles need to get their stickers by: Anyone driving a foreign-registered vehicle in Paris will have until March 31 to buy a sticker.
How much will the Crit’Air stickers cost: The sticker will cost €4.18 (around £3.60) for drivers of foreign-registered vehicles.
How often do I need to renew the sticker: All Crit’Air stickers are valid for the lifetime of the vehicle, so you will never need to buy a new one for any individual car (as the law currently stands).
Does the sticker apply to the car of the driver: The Crit’Air is linked to the vehicle and not the driver. You’ll need one for each car you intend to drive in Paris, Lyon or Grenoble.
What signs will show where the stickers apply when driving in Paris: Look out for the signs pictured below. 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.
The red signs show where the Crit’Air zone starts and the black ones where it ends
If my car is restricted, do I need to leave the city: No, the restrictions apply to travel. As long as you have a Crit’Air sticker, you can leave the vehicle parked in the city during periods its use is restricted due to high levels of pollution.
I have a pre-1996 car: Then you won’t be assigned a category. Put simply, this means you will not be able to drive your vehicle in the city’s Crit’Air zones between 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday.
More restrictions for diesel cars coming in the summer: From July 1, 2017, all cars will need to hold at least a Crit’Air 4 sticker! This means – along with older petrol and diesel cars that didn’t get a sticker in the first wave – diesel cars registered before January 1, 2001, will also be banned from entering the city 8am – 8pm Monday – Friday.
Will disabled drivers need a sticker: No. The Crit’Air exemptions page on the official website says: ‘As per French decree Décret n°2016-847 from 28th June 2016 vehicles bearing a parking card for disabled persons need no Crit’Air Vignette. Parking cards for disabled persons are the same all over Europe so that vehicles of handicapped persons are recognisable abroad, too.’
What Is the fine for driving without a Crit’Air sticker in Paris: French police have been told to be lenient in the early days, but this will be for a short time only.
Fines for those without stickers are:
€68 (£58.63) for cars
€138 (£119) for lorries.
Can I check what Crit’Air sticker I will need: Yes – run a simulation here.
Can I watch a French-language video on the Crit’Air scheme: Yes – yes you can.Click below and enjoy!
Anything else: Yes. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, is no fan of cars and has made it clear she’ll be making life difficult for drivers.
Speaking to journalists, she said: “More cars means more pollution, fewer cars means less pollution. It seems obvious but in this post-truth age there are those who would argue that fewer cars means more pollution. We prefer to stick to the truth.”
She has spoken of eventually banning all diesel motors from the city’s streets.
Any other cities using the stickers: The French cities of Grenoble and Lyon are also operating a form of Crit’Air sticker.
Crit’Air at a glance
Hire cars and Crit’Air stickers – motorists face big fines
With thousands of Brits heading over (or under) the Channel in hire cars, motorists could be left open to fines and big admin charges imposed by rental firms if the anti-pollution stickers aren’t purchased and displayed.
What’s the problem? With Crit’Air sticker relating to the vehicle and not the driver, anyone heading in Paris will have to rely on the hire car having a sticker purchased by the rental firm.
This could not be undertaken by the ‘hirer’ because the registration number and registration document are required to purchase one.
Who’ll pay the fine? As with any other unpaid fines incurred by the ‘hirer’, rental firms will typically take the fine and a hefty admin charge from the driver’s credit card.
It’s unclear if this would still be the case legally if the rental firm had been aware of the driver’s intentions to enter Paris, but neglected to purchase a valid Crit’Air sticker for the vehicle.
How much is the fine and admin charge? The fine for not having a Crit’Air sticker is €68 (£58.63) for cars, and with rental firms charging anything from £45 admin charges for paying penalty charges, drivers could expect a bill in excess of £100 through no fault of their own.
What the hire firms say: Posing as a customer, we phoned one of the UK’s leading hire firms and explained that we wanted to hire a car in England, then drive to Paris after the March 31 deadline.
When asked how to deal with the Crit’Air issue, we were told to ‘pop in to the Paris branch [of the hire firm] and pick one up.’ However, with ‘sticker’ applications for foreign cars required to be made online and accompanied by a copy of the vehicle’s registration document, this is unlikely to be a solution.
We’ve contacted several rental firms – along with the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) the trade body for rental car firms – but have not yet received any comment on how the Crit’Air problem will be tackled.
Avis has since told us it will be holding a meeting next week (w/c 27/03/17) to discuss the issue – the same week as the law comes into effect for British drivers heading to Paris.
What should you do: Make sure you tell your rental firm as early as possible that you intend to drive in Paris. Make it clear you expect the car to be legal and that any fines will not be your responsibility. We’ll update this section with any comment we receive from rental firms or the BVRLA
Warning: Unofficial sites charging 6 times the face value for Crit’Air stickers. How to make sure you don’t get caught out.
Brit motorists heading to France are being targeted by sites charging huge administrative fees to supply the Crit’Air anti-pollution stickers required to drive in Paris from March 31. Stickers are also required in Grenoble and Lyon.
The sites are not operating illegally, but cashing in on confusion over the new system will leave drivers out of pocket by charging large admin fees for a service the French authorities offer for free. One site, listed below, is charging more than six times the face value of the stickers.
Some websites are also urging users to call ‘information lines’ which cost around €3-a-minute for French callers and significantly more for foreign-based users.
One site, Crit-Air.fr offers an international order page, where foreign motorists are charged €29.65 (around £25.56) for the anti-pollution stickers, as opposed to the official store price at €4.80 (around £4.18) for the sticker and postage.
Where to buy the Crit’Air sticker without admin costs
The official site to buy the anti-pollution stickers, as reported by this website, is as follows:
This is how the new Crit’Air stickers will be applied to your car.
CRIT’AIR GREEN VEHICLES (GREEN AND WHITE STICKER) Lowest band restricted only for 100% pure-electric or hydrogen vehicles.
CRIT’AIR 1 (PURPLE STICKER) Plug-in hybrid cars and Euro 5 and 6 petrol models (registered from 1 January 2011).
CRIT’AIR 2 (YELLOW STICKER) Euro 4 petrol-powered cars (registered between 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2010) and Euro 5 and 6 diesel models (registered from 1 January 2011).
CRIT’AIR 3 (ORANGE STICKER) Euro 2 and 3 petrol cars (registered from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2005).
Petrol cars registered before 1997 do not qualify for a Crit’Air sticker at all and will be barred from entering the city 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday
Crit’Air 3 also includes Euro 4 diesel cars (registered between 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2010).
CRIT’AIR 4 (DARK RED STICKER) Euro 3 diesel cars registered between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2005.
CRIT’AIR 5 (DARK BLUE STICKER) Euro 2 diesels, registered from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2000.
Petrol and diesel cars older than this are not eligible for a Crit’Air and will be barred from entering the city 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday.