Low Emission Zone and Crit Air Sticker

Low Emission Zones and the Crit’Air Sticker in France


In recent years, many cities across the globe have committed to reducing their carbon footprints and improving air quality. One strategy that has gained popularity is the implementation of Low Emission Zones (LEZs). France, in particular, has been a pioneer in this area, with the introduction of the Crit’Air sticker system.

What are Low Emission Zones?

Low Emission Zones are designated areas where access is restricted for certain types of vehicles, typically those that produce higher levels of pollutants. These zones aim to reduce the concentration of harmful pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, particulates, and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, improving the air quality and health of the community.

In many cases, vehicles are categorized based on their emissions, with cleaner vehicles being allowed unrestricted access, while more polluting vehicles face restrictions or charges. This encourages drivers to switch to cleaner modes of transport, like electric vehicles or public transportation.

Crit’Air Sticker in France

France took a significant step towards combating urban air pollution with the launch of the Crit’Air sticker (Certificats qualité de l’Air) system in 2016. This is an emissions-based vignette (sticker) that is compulsory for both French and foreign vehicles in certain areas.

The Crit’Air system uses six categories to classify vehicles according to their pollutant emissions. This classification is based on the European emission standards (Euro 1 to Euro 6), the type of vehicle (cars, trucks, buses, two-wheelers, etc.), and its energy type (petrol, diesel, electric, hydrogen, etc.). Each category corresponds to a different colored sticker:

  • Crit’Air 1 (purple): Electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles.
  • Crit’Air 2 (yellow): Gasoline vehicles registered from January 2006 and diesel vehicles from January 2011.
  • Crit’Air 3 (orange): Gasoline vehicles registered between January 1997 and December 2005 and diesel vehicles between January 2006 and December 2010.
  • Crit’Air 4 (red): Diesel vehicles registered between January 2001 and December 2005.
  • Crit’Air 5 (green): Diesel vehicles registered between January 1997 and December 2000.
  • Crit’Air 6 (grey): Diesel vehicles registered before 1997.

If you want to get a Crit’air sticker quickly

Here is a great video from the very clever David Griffiths. He has forgotten more than I know about driving in France. In this video he tells you a great way to be able to drive legally in a LEZ through France even when you only realised you needed one about 3 days before you actually travel to France. (It normally takes 2 – 4 weeks t get one.

How Crit’Air Works

In certain zones, depending on pollution levels, vehicles with certain Crit’Air stickers may be prohibited from entering or using specific roads during peak pollution events. These zones, known as “Zones à Faibles Émissions” (ZFE), have been introduced in various French cities, including Paris, Lyon, and Grenoble, with more expected to follow.

For example, Paris has gradually tightened restrictions, leading to a full ban on Crit’Air 4 and 5 vehicles during weekdays, and it plans to become a zero-emission zone by 2030.

Crit’Air stickers are placed on the vehicle’s windshield. The absence of a sticker in an LEZ, or entering an LEZ with a prohibited sticker, can lead to a fine. This system is enforced through automated number plate recognition.

Best places for more information

If you want more information from a reliable source check out this article by Drive-France, Crit Air Sticker. Also if you want to buy a Crit’air sticker I suggest you only do that via the official French Government website.

Impact and Future Developments

The Crit’Air scheme is part of a broader commitment by the French government to improve air quality and transition to cleaner energy. The system has effectively reduced the number of high-emission vehicles on French roads, thereby reducing pollution levels, particularly in larger cities.

While the scheme has faced criticism, including claims that it penalizes lower-income drivers, the French government continues to work on introducing incentives for switching to cleaner vehicles and expanding public transport networks.

The Crit’Air system and the introduction of Low Emission Zones represent a progressive step towards a greener future. The push for better air quality in urban environments is not just limited to France but is part of a global shift towards sustainable living. The results of this scheme could influence other countries to adopt similar methods.

Future Developments

Looking forward, France aims to expand the number of low emission zones across the country. By 2024, it is anticipated that more than 30 urban areas will have implemented a ZFE.

Another significant development is the move towards banning older, high-emitting vehicles completely. The French government has announced plans to prohibit the use of diesel vehicles by 2024 and petrol vehicles by 2030 in the city of Paris.

In terms of the Crit’Air scheme, there are proposals for further refining the categories to account for the latest advancements in vehicle technology. For instance, distinguishing between hybrid vehicles and fully electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles could be a valuable evolution of the system.


The Crit’Air sticker system and the introduction of Low Emission Zones in France are innovative strategies aimed at reducing air pollution and promoting greener modes of transportation. Despite the challenges and criticisms, the benefits of cleaner air and a healthier population are undeniable.

This approach, along with other global efforts, offers a promising path towards sustainable urban living and the broader fight against climate change. The world will be closely watching the developments in France as they continue to innovate in their approach to sustainable transportation.

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Read my post about European road trips if you are interested in driving on the continent.

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