Crit’Air Scheme

The Crit’Air scheme came into force in France to reduce air pollution from vehicles in key cities and larger towns. The scheme divides France into environmental zones, and cars driving through these zones require a sticker on the windscreen stating the vehicle’s emissions rating or else face serious fines. Depending on the sticker, drivers can permanently or temporarily face a ban from entering or parking certain environmental zones. 

Vehicles in the EU fall under distinct categories according to type, L, M, and N. 

  • L vehicles are motorcycles, tricycles, mopeds, and four-wheeled vehicles that weigh less than 400 kg. 
  • M vehicles carry passengers or cargo, which means personal vehicles with up to 8 seats, and buses with more than 8 seats. 
  • N vehicles are commercial trucks that transport cargo.

The Crit’Air stickers or vignettes come in six colors depending on their emission ratings and year of approval for use in the EU. 

TypeColorDescription 
Crit’Air EGreenZero emissions for electric and hydrogen vehicles 
Crit’Air 1Purple Gas and hybrid vehicles 
Crit’Air 2YellowEuro 5 (1 Jan 2011) and Euro 6 (September 2015) 
Crit’Air 3OrangeEuro 4 (1 Jan 2006)
Crit’Air 4BurgundyEuro 3 (1 Jan 2001)
Crit’Air 5Dark greyEuro 2 (1 Jan 1997)

Category L vehicles registered before June 2000 and Category M vehicles registered before January 1997 are not eligible for Crit’Air stickers. 

A study of each city or certain parts of a city help determine environmental zones, which are then designated into a category by law. ZFE (Zones à faibles émissions) or LEZ (Low Emission Zones) in English make up the entire permanent low emissions zones. 

The emergency low emissions zones or ZPA (Zone de la Protection de l’Air) impose restrictions temporarily when emissions tend to spike, usually at certain times of the day or weather conditions. 

Paris and Nancy plan to expand their ZFE regions, as well as Bordeaux, Grenoble-Alpes Métropole, Lille Metropole, Grand Lyon, among others. Drivers can find out their vehicle’s environmental class and order Crit’Air stickers at www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/demand

Sources

www.rac.co.uk/drive/news/motoring-news/law-change-for-uk-drivers-in-french-cities

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