The French Government has introduced a system of “clean air” windscreen stickers to help identify a vehicles environmental credentials and they are now a legal requirement.
The stickers called “Crit’Air Vignettes” are a 6 sticker system that applies to all motor vehicles including motorbikes and coaches. The stickers are all different colours and range from green (Crit’Air 1) for the cleanest electric cars through to black (Crit’Air6) for older, dirtiest diesel vehicles. You can check your vehicle's Euro emission standard on this form from the RAC.
They have been introduced initially in the larger cities of Paris, Lyon and Grenoble, but it is widely expected they will be introduced into other cities in due course, with around 22 other cities and towns having announced plans to implement the system within the next 3 years.
The reason behind the scheme is to keep a control on air quality in these busiest of cities and when pollution levels reach certain trigger levels, drivers of more polluting cars will not be allowed access to the cities when restrictions apply. Around 1 in 10 of older French cars fail the minimum requirement and are now not allowed into the Parisian metropolitan area between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday.
The French government has set up a dedicated foreign vehicle website and purchasing them is a quick and easy process. Simply visit the website and follow the prompts. You will need your V5 log book (or Carte Gris for French registered cars) to complete the application as you need all your vehicles details and also a credit/debit card to facilitate payment. The stickers only cost €4.80 (including postage).
As with EHIC card renewals be aware that rogue third party websites are offering the stickers at highly inflated rates – only buy your stickers from the official French government website and make sure you get your sticker before travelling. Allow up to 6 weeks for the sticker to arrive after ordering. The period of grace afforded to non-French vehicles runs out on 31st March 2017 after which an on the spot fine of between €68 and €117 may be levied by French authorities.
Many visitors on their way to the Alps and the South of France often stop off in Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France or the lovely city of Grenoble, so be aware of the new regulations.