Crit’air is France’s contribution to European measures to limit the carbon emissions from motorised transport within urban environments. The scheme was developed by the French Ministry of the Environment in collaboration with the French Ministry of the Interior and came into force in January 2017.
Depending on how your vehicle is classified, you may not be able to enter central Paris (for instance) or drive in the city during high-pollution episodes. For more information on these restrictions, visit France’s environmental transition ministry here.
The certificates come in the form of circular, colour-coded windscreen stickers (vignettes) that designate the level of emissions your vehicle produces. A table showing which vehicles sit within which emission categories can be found here.
These certificates are valid from the date of issue throughout the lifetime of the vehicle (or until such time as the legislation changes). The ink and materials from which the sticker is made are designed not to fade or tear easily. If your certificate becomes excessively worn, you may need to apply for a replacement one.
If your vehicle is registered in France, when it has its contrôle technique (statutory routine inspection; the equivalent of a British MOT), the certificate’s legibility will be checked and, depending on the result, a replacement may be required.
Penalties for not displaying a valid certificate or for driving within a zone your vehicle is not certified for can range from €85 to €135 and the certificates cost just €3.11, so it is definitely an investment worth making!