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Crit'Air stickers required for driving in France

New regulations to help control air pollution

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Ellie Mahoney | Chamonix Editor | Published: 29 Mar 2017


Crit'Air stickers required for driving in France

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.

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How do you know when restrictions are in place?

Thankfully there's a handy place where you can find daily updates on which Crit'Air vignettes are allowed in each of the current cities using the system. You can also see the demarcation zones for Paris and Lyon.

Information is, at the time of writing, still to be released for Grenoble and Lille

Restrictions in the Arve Valley

The Arve Valley and the 41 towns and communes along its length have been classed, since 23rd February 2017, as a Zone of Air Protection (ZPA). 

According to Crit'Air the pollution restrictions currently only affects trucks passing through the Arve valley, although it's believed that it may come into effect for private vehicles at some point soon. No date for this has been specified as yet, although it's probably a good idea to order a vignette now if you're planning on travelling through the area. 

Towns and communes in the ZPA include Chamonix, Megeve, Bonneville, Cluses, Combloux, Contamines, Les Houches, Marignier, Magland, Passy, Praz sur Arly, St Gervais, Sallanches, Scionzier, Sciez and Vallorcine.