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Crit’Air stickers:the complete guide to clean air stickers in France

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Do I need a Crit’Air sticker to drive in France? This is one of the questions frequently asked online and in social media forums. It is also a question that generates significant discussion about the process. At best, the information can be partially correct or outdated; at worst, it can be completely incorrect.

Our detailed guide covers all of the important questions that you need to ask before deciding if you need to get a Crit’Air sticker for your vehicle. It also gives accurate information about where, when and why you might need a sticker and why you might not. Recent updates to the low-emission zones in France are also noted.

Despite what some may tell you, it is still possible to travel in France without a sticker. Read on to find out more so that you can make the best decision for your situation based on the facts and not the opinions or interpretations so often found online.

The latest news

From January 2024, the scheme will add more restrictions, banning diesel vehicles from entering permanent zones and only allowing Crit Air E or 1 vehicles within the zone.

There is talk of certain areas in the country having restrictions lifted, but at this stage, it’s just a conversation. The government is also considering a new category called ‘zones de vigilance’.

This is a long read because it needs to be to cover all the questions everyone asks. If you don’t have time – or the patience – to read it all, please use the table of contents below to jump to the parts that you need.

What is it?

Crit’Air is the simplified version of its official French name, Certificat qualité de l’air. It refers to a sticker affixed to a vehicle to enable it to be driven in certain zones in France at certain times. More on this later. They are also referred to as clean air stickers and even anti-pollution stickers. I’ve even seen them referred to as Crit Air vignettes, but this is incorrect and shouldn’t be confused with other vignettes that are required for tolls and travel in Europe.

It is one of the levers used by the government to support its environmental policy and links directly to the European emissions standard. The current standard is Euro 6, updated in January 2021. Euro 7 is being worked on but is unlikely to become official until at least 2025.

As time goes on, the requirements for cleaner cars will continue to escalate, and the ability to drive an older, polluting car in these areas will be impacted in these zones only. Car manufacturers in Europe must now comply with Euro 6.

The system, designed to reduce emissions, grades vehicles according to their emissions output after assessing such things as the vehicle’s age and engine type. Passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, buses, motorbikes, scooters etc., are all included in this assessment.

yellow crit air sticker france applied to windscreen of vehicle
An example of one of the levels of crit air sticker

Crit Air sticker classifications

Six coloured stickers align with the grading of the vehicle. Each sticker corresponds with a specific vehicle category, defined according to atmospheric pollution emissions.

Newer vehicles with lower emissions have a low-numbered sticker, while older vehicles, usually with higher emissions have a high number. The green sticker, unsurprisingly, is reserved for vehicles that have zero or very low emissions, like electric and hybrid vehicles.

Newer, cleaner vehicles are sometimes afforded greater flexibility for parking and may be allowed to enter areas even when emergency zones are implemented.

To date, over 22 million stickers have been issued.

GreenUnnumberedElectric and hydrogen vehicles
Purple1Petrol and rechargeable vehicles registered after December 2010. Euro 5, 6 petrol vehicles,
Euro 6 petrol HGVs, Euro 6 Biodiesel HGVs, Euro 4 two-wheels.
Yellow2Petrol (registered January 2006 – December 2010) and diesel (registered after January 2011). Euro 4 petrol vehicles, Euro 5 petrol HGVs, Euro 5, 6 diesel vehicles, Euro 6 diesel HGVs, Euro 3 two-wheels.
Orange3Petrol (registered 1997-2005) and diesel (registered January 2006-2010). Euro 2, 3 petrol vehicles, Euro 3, 4 petrol HGVs, Euro 4 diesel vehicles, Euro 5 diesel HGVs, Euro 5 Biodiesel HGVs, Euro 2 two-wheels.
Brown4Diesel (registered January 2001 – December 2005). Euro 3 diesel vehicles, Euro 4 diesel HGVs,
Euro 4 Biodiesel HGVs, two-wheels without standard from June 2000 to June 2004.
Grey5Diesel (registered January 1997-2000). Euro 2 diesel vehicles, Euro 3 diesel HGVs, Euro 3 Biodiesel HGVs.
Note – these details are valid at the time of writing but may be subject to change

Thinking of buying a motorhome in France? Read our comprehensive guide to buying a motorhome legally in France when you are a non-EU resident.

What are low-emission zones?

There are two types of low-emission zones in France; permanent and temporary. This is what causes the most confusion among prospective travellers to France.

While a Crit’Air sticker is needed if travelling within these 11 zones during the relevant restriction times, the remainder of France remains free to travel in without a sticker under usual circumstances. (refer below for information about temporary zones)

Permanent zone (m-ZFE)

There are only 11 permanent low-emission zones in France. These are known as m-ZFE or ZFE-m. The ZFE stands for Zone à Faibles Émissions. A ZFE (formerly known as ZCR) can apply to the type of vehicle allowed to be driven into the zone, on what day, and at what time. The zone conditions can also cover parking.

Paris, for example, is a permanent low-emission zone, but within that zone, it has sub-zones with different rules that apply to the city of Paris. Even in Paris itself, the rules apply only to certain days of the week and certain times.

Each zone will also have its own restrictions on the type of vehicle allowed. For example, in Paris and the Greater Paris area, vehicles with classifications of 3-5 have greater restrictions. From June 2025, only those with 1 and 2 stickers will be allowed to drive in restricted areas, and from 2030, petrol and diesel vehicles will be prohibited in these areas . In Marseille, vehicles 3+ were not be allowed from 2023.

Reference: The up-to-date list of current m-ZFE areas can be found below.

Temporary zone (ZPA)

Legislation was passed to enable ZPA (Zone de la Protection de l’Air) to be implemented under emergency conditions (e.g. significantly high pollution) and are always temporary.

For example, during extreme conditions, a zone may be implemented that only allows up to category three vehicles to enter the area, or vehicles may be restricted to a particular speed limit. It is understood that emergency restrictions can only be implemented with 24 hours notice.

This is where the confusion usually comes from. If you look at a generic map of France showing all low-emission zones, they cover most of the country. So, while this is correct if you are looking to find out where all zones are, it is not correct when being considered in the discussion on whether you need to buy a Crit’Air sticker to travel in France.

I can only find one instance where an emergency zone was introduced in Paris in 2017. They are not common, they are not frequent, and they are not invoked on a whim. Therefore, you can travel throughout France in any car, without a sticker, on any day of the week, without (current) restriction.

How do I know if I need one?

This is the million-dollar question asked in forums across the internet. It’s a question that gets many different answers and sometimes even gets people hot under the collar. But, it is a question that is often answered incorrectly, albeit with good intentions.

The fact is that it is entirely possible to travel in France without a Crit’Air sticker. It is not mandatory for entry into France and depending on where and when you travel, it may not even be necessary.

To decide if you need to buy a Crit’Air sticker or not, there are a few basic questions to ask yourself. Whether or not you get one depends on your values and opinions, your risk profile, and of course, where you will be travelling.

  1. Where are you planning on driving in France? Is it likely you will need to travel through permanent zones (m-ZFE) and can’t be restricted in any way?
  2. Is your travel flexible, and can you change where you drive and when?
  3. Are you risk-averse or fancy-free? Are you more of a rule-follower than a rule-breaker, personality-wise?
  4. Do you hate spending money if you don’t need it? Or does a few pounds or euros here or there not worry you?
  5. Do you like being prepared for anything?

Let’s have a look at some possible scenarios based on these questions.

If you are planning on travelling through France quite broadly but don’t plan on going into any of the 11 permanent zones at the times of restriction, then you don’t need a sticker.

However, if your travel means travelling into these zones during restricted times and where types of vehicles are restricted, then you should consider having a sticker so that your travel won’t be impacted.

If you are risk-averse, love following rules, like being prepared and don’t mind spending a small amount of money, then you’ll probably decide to get one, just to ‘be on the safe side’. There’s no harm in doing so.

If you don’t care about rules, hate spending money unnecessarily and don’t think you’ll drive in any of the permanent zones because your travel is flexible, you will most likely decide you won’t bother getting the sticker.

The rules apply to any vehicle driven or parked in the relevant areas in France, not only those that are French-owned and registered. This is one of the common pieces of misinformation floating around.

So, for example, if you are bringing your vehicle across from the United Kingdom, your vehicle still may need a Crit’Air sticker if you are planning on doing any travel that takes you into the zones.

Note: There are some websites on the internet that say you can only drive in France if you have a sticker; at this stage, this is incorrect. While you need a sticker to drive in permanent low-emission zones during the designated times in each area, it is still possible to drive in areas of France that have not been zoned this way.

If you hire a vehicle, the hiring company may have already applied for the sticker. Just double-check and make sure you can find it on the windscreen. Better still, inquire when you book.

Our tip: don’t assume that the hiring company has done so, as it’s not a legal requirement for them. We hired a motorhome from Anywhere Campers and it did not have a crit air sticker attached. While hiring cars registered in France will likely have them, it is good practice not to assume it will. On the flip side, you should assume that all vehicles hired outside of France definitely won’t have one. To be sure and have peace of mind if it’s important to you, ask the hiring company before you book.

Zones: the facts

This may change, and more permanent m-ZFEs will be introduced in the coming years, but for now, this is the reality.

  • YES – you need a Crit’Air sticker to travel only in the current 11 m-ZFE permanent zones and only during times of restriction. Note this will be different for each of the 11 zones, and some zones might have different restrictions in different parts of the overall zone e.g. Paris and Greater Paris. So it is still entirely possible to drive in these areas outside their mandated times. It just means you need to be well aware of the requirements if you are driving without one.
  • NO – you do not need a Crit’Air sticker to travel in the current 11 m-ZFE permanent zones when restrictions are not in force.
  • NO – you do not need a Crit’Air sticker to travel in ZPAs unless they are “active“, which to date, has been rare.

Where are the low-emission zones?

Following three further zone additions in September 2022, there are now 11 permanent low-emission zones. While there are more coming online from 2024 onwards, for now, these are the only permanent zones active in France, and they do not operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • Paris; including an extended area covering 40 municipalities
  • Grenoble; including 27 municipalities
  • Lyon
  • Aix-Marseille
  • Rouen
  • Reims
  • Nice
  • Toulouse
  • Saint Etienne
  • Strasbourg
  • Montpellier

Reference: Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, Ministry of Energy Transition – French Government.

map of low emission zones France 2023
Low emission zones map – France – current and proposed at January 2024 © www.service-public.fr

Clermont-Ferrand, for example, has been a temporary low-emission zone, trying to educate those in its catchment before ‘turning on the permanency’ of the zone. Currently, only heavy vehicles and those registered before 1997 are restricted. Expect, however, this to change and be enforced, possibly from July 2024.

Individual local government areas are responsible for determining their zones and what categories of vehicles are allowed to enter them, and when. Road signs noting that you are about to enter a restricted zone are placed at city limits or the edge of the restricted zone. The signs will state the applicable times and vehicle types.

From 2025, all cities with populations exceeding 150,000 – some 43 additional locations – will be required to implement a low-emission zone. Note that this is being heavily debated in France at the moment. As always, it is just a good idea to note that this is a moving feast, and all locations are subject to change.

How to apply for a Crit’Air sticker

It doesn’t matter where you live; applying online is the simplest way to apply for your Crit’Air sticker. It ensures you have it ready on your vehicle before arriving in France.

Our tip: Unless you read French, be sure to toggle the website to English to minimise issues.

Website tip to change from french language to english
© https://www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/

When applying for a sticker online, note there are two tabs: one for a vehicle registered in France and one for a vehicle registered outside of France.

how to apply for a crit air sticker online
© https://www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/

Our tip: Like many online application services – e.g. visas – the process is a target for scammers. To ensure you don’t get scammed, lose money or receive a fraudulent sticker, only apply online via the official government website. It can be viewed in French, German and English. There are some legitimate third-party providers online; however, they charge more. Some sites have been known to charge €40! It’s best to stick to the official website to be sure.

Things to know before applying

The online application process will ask you for the following information. Everything should run more smoothly for you if you have all of this ready nearby as you apply.

I will repeat this again: use the official website. Not only does this save you from paying more or worse, getting scammed, but it is the most straightforward online application form.

  • Country of registration – this one is easy. It’s the country you registered your vehicle in.
  • Registration number – this is the number found on your number plate.
  • Date of registration – the date your vehicle was officially registered.
  • Vehicle category**
  • Type of fuel – note there is an extensive list. The basics like petrol, diesel, hydrogen, LPG and electric are covered, but there is an enormous range of other possibilities. This should be a simple assessment, however, for the owner of the vehicle. A dropdown box is provided on the application page for quick selection.
  • Serial number (also known as VIN – vehicle identification number). This can be found on your registration certificate and is also stamped into your vehicle. The VIN is unique to each vehicle.
  • Make – the vehicle brand found on your registration certificate.
  • Commercial/business description – additional information on your vehicle’s model. *Optional information only
  • Euro standard – choose from no standard to Euro 6. If you do not know this for sure, don’t enter any detail. Entering a standard that is inconsistent with your date of registration will cause an error. *Optional information only
  • CO2 emission# – *Optional information only
  • Name and email address – your e-mail address is used to send you your invoice and a temporary certificate until you receive the physical sticker. It is also used for tracking your order. Keep an eye on the following screen where it repeats your name. It kept spelling mine incorrectly event though I hadn’t written my name incorrectly anywhere.
  • Delivery and billing address – you can have two different addresses here but make sure the delivery address is where you will be to receive the sticker. The address should be the address of the person ordering the sticker for their vehicle, or the lessee of a vehicle.
  • Credit card for payment

**Vehicle categories:

  • Passenger cars – M1
  • Light utility vehicles – N1
  • Motorbikes – L3e, L4e, L7e
  • Mopeds – L1e, L2e, L6e
  • HGV, buses, coaches – M2, M3, N2, N3

# Note – Some of the information is optional – for example, CO2 emissions – so if your registration certificate doesn’t have it, don’t stress. Upload the document anyway, and the French authorities will work it out from your registration certificate.

Ordinary motorhomes and campervans are classified as passenger vehicles. Again, if in doubt, upload your registration details and the people assessing your application will give you the correct sticker.

You must also upload a current vehicle registration certificate/logbook (V5C). Several vehicles can be added at once, with a maximum of ten, if you register international vehicles.

Our tip: Compress your images before uploading them and ensure the form is uploaded in the correct format. Only jpg, png and pdf are acceptable. Sometimes if you upload the wrong file size or format, it can send the online form into a meltdown. While the website says that files must be less than 2MB, we recommend trying to keep them under 500KB. Many image compressors are available so it’s easy enough for anyone to do. Try this one to reduce the size of your jpg and png files. It’s free, and you don’t need to create an account. To compress pdf files, try this. Also, make sure that they are legible. If you can’t read the file after scanning it, the French authorities won’t be able to either. If you need to add additional documents, click the ‘add more proof’ button again. It will only allow two documents to be uploaded. SEE NOTE BELOW!

Troubleshooting error before payment: Customers sometimes see a recurring issue on the French government website whereby applicants see an error message just as they get to the payment page. The error isn’t about the actual payment; it’s striking users out before they can enter details. The error might look something like the image below.

If this happens, please check the following things: one or all seem to be contributing factors.

  • If you are using a phone or an iPad, try completing your application on a desktop computer or a laptop.
  • If you are using Safari (usually on an iPhone, iPad, or Macbook), try swapping to another browser.
  • Check your uploaded files are within the required size requirements. We recommend keeping them under 500KB.
  • Even though jpg files are supposed to be an acceptable file format, try converting your jpg files to pdf and re-upload your documents.

Users who have encountered this issue have found that converting jpg to pdf has been the key to getting their payment to go through.

error when trying to pay for crit air sticker France

Vehicles with retro-fitted devices

It is possible to apply for a Crit’Air sticker for vehicles that have been retrofitted to comply with more recent standards. Such vehicles may receive a sticker graded more positively than one for a vehicle without adaptation.

To ensure the process runs smoothly and to ensure that you get an “improved” grading for your retrofitted vehicle, the applicant must have declared the retrofitted devices to the relevant authority and have correspondence confirming that the vehicle has been upgraded before applying for the certificate.

Note: Failure to do this in this order will mean your application will be assessed on the vehicle’s attributes before the retrofit and will subsequently be issued a lower-grade sticker.

Classic cars and vintage cars

Many of our readers send us private messages asking whether classic cars need a crit air sticker.

This is a little ‘grey’ at the moment.  According to the French government, these types of cars (French-owned and registered) are exempt if they are over 30 years old.  General inspection by law enforcement would validate this along with vehicle registration.

While there is talk about exempting all vehicles of this type, regardless of country of origin, there is currently no process to do so.  There is talk of 2024, but who knows?

There is no camera enforcement of the crit air at the moment, although this is also expected in the latter part of 2024.  

Of course, as we’ve explained above, the crit air sticker requirement is only such in the 11 permanent zones, during set hours/days, so it depends on the exact location of your visits.

For example, the most direct route is usually via Rouen if you are heading from the UK to France for the Le Mans Classic. However, Rouen is one of the 11 permanent low-emission zones. So, if you plan on going through Rouen, be mindful of the situation with your classic car. To be safe, you should consider seeking a different route to Le Mans that avoids the Rouen area entirely.

Tips for UK registered vehicles applying for Crit Air

Here’s where you can find the information on your V5C logbook.

  • Registration number – Label A
  • Date of first registration – Label B
  • Vehicle category – Label J Passenger vehicles
  • Type of fuel – Label P.3
  • Certificate issuing country – UK (note if you are applying for your sticker on the French vehicle site, you won’t find the UK. Instead, you’ll see Royaume-Uni.
  • Serial number – Vehicle information number (VIN) – Label E – Vin/Chassis/Frame number
  • Make – Label D.1 (e.g. BNW, Mercedes, Renault, Vauxhall, Ford)
  • Business Information (Model) – Label D.3 Body type e.g 5-door hatchback. *Optional information only
  • CO2 emissions – if on the V5, it will be at Label V.7. *Optional information only
  • Standard Euro – environmental information sometimes found at Label V.9. *Optional information only

Note: The emissions question always bothers potential applicants. If you don’t have emissions details for your vehicle, don’t worry, this is an optional field. Upload the V5, and the French authorities will get the information they need to assess. Alternatively, some people have uploaded a Certificate of Conformity for additional evidence.

How long does it take to receive?

While online ordering may be efficient, the sticker is required to be sent using physical mail. Therefore, knowing that mail can be inefficient sometimes and certainly impacted by seasonal events, it is recommended to apply for your sticker well in advance. The sticker doesn’t have a use-by date, so ordering it earlier than you need it should not be of concern.

The official advice from the issuing department is that they have twenty workdays from the date of confirmation of the bank transaction (payment) to issue the certificate to the address provided by the applicant.

If your sticker hasn’t arrived after this time, check that you gave the correct delivery address – if it’s wrong, they will make you apply for a new one – and then contact the issuing department. All calls and emails are in English.

Email: contact@certificat-air.gouv.fr

Phone: 0800 970 033 (toll free)

How much does it cost?

The sticker costs €3.11 plus postage. The current price for postage to the UK is €3.11 + €1.65 postage. Postage within France is €0.66.

How long does it last?

Nothing lasts forever, but the Crit’Air sticker should last for the vehicle’s lifetime, which is another reason why applying for one is not a huge hassle. The sticker’s details must remain visible, legible and accurate for it to be considered valid.

Where do I put the sticker on the vehicle?

For left-hand drive vehicles – It’s mandatory to display the sticker on the windscreen on the lower right-hand side, facing outwards. The sticker must remain visible and legible and able to be read by law enforcement and cameras at all times through the window. Don’t ever put them on a side window.

Our tip: Because the stickers have in-built security, ripping them off to relocate them won’t work. Find the best spot for them, affix the sticker, and leave it there.

What happens if I don’t have one?

The areas that require a Crit’Air sticker keep being updated, so it’s important to ensure you understand where they are, especially if you do not have one.

If you own a very old vehicle registered before January 1997 or a motorbike or scooter registered before 2000, you cannot receive a Crit’Air. This is the French government’s way of preventing older cars that have high emissions from adding to the pollution levels in critical areas. However, as noted above, this does not mean you can’t drive an older vehicle in France. It only means you can’t drive in the zones with restrictions.

Otherwise, generally speaking, if you don’t have one, it just means you shouldn’t drive in restricted areas if you don’t want to run the risk of a fine. Remember though, as stated above, that it doesn’t mean you can’t drive in France.

The current fines for not having and displaying the correct Crit’Air sticker when driving or parking in restricted areas range from €68 to €135, depending on the type of vehicle. It is anticipated that once cameras are rolled out, enforcement fines may increase substantially.

Do I need one if I am travelling on an autoroute?

Sometimes, you will find yourself travelling on an autoroute that will pass through a city with a low-emission zone. While this might vary on a city-by-city basis, it will usually be the case that autoroutes will be exempt.

For example, in Grenoble, there are three main types of roads that are exempt:

  1. Roads leading to parking stations/lots that are connected to public transport hubs. This is to encourage the use of public transport.
  2. Urban expressways and roads that navigate through the alps. This is to ensure that commercials/transit vehicles that must use these are not subjected to longer routes to avoid the low-emission zone (and are essentially just passing through).
  3. Access roads to some health areas like hospitals.

How do I know I’m in a low-emission zone?

If you’ve done your research before travelling, you’ll know what areas are governed by the low-emission zones. However, if you haven’t, you may see signage on the perimeters of the towns you are about to enter. If you see these signs, you should take the time to understand the requirements before taking the risk.

FAQs

If I change the registration on my vehicle once I have a sticker, does it matter?

Yes, it does. While the sticker can technically stay on the vehicle for its lifetime, the registration is also unique to that vehicle, and a change will render it invalid. You’ll need to apply for a new sticker if you change registration.

Can’t I avoid the areas that require a permit?

Sure you can. You don’t need a sticker if you know exactly where they are or the times/days they are in force, and your travels in France don’t intersect with the low-emission zones. It depends entirely on where you travel and how you like to travel.

Can I set my GPS to avoid the areas that need a sticker?

Technically, you can. Most GPS these days have settings to avoid tolls and areas like this. However, the areas are constantly being added to, and the GPS software updates may not occur simultaneously. They might also not be agile enough to know when an emergency zone has been created. It’s risky to rely solely on your GPS to keep you away from the zones.

Can I get a replacement sticker?

Yes. If something happens to your sticker or you need to have your windscreen replaced, for example, a replacement may be ordered online.

Is it ok to put my sticker on another vehicle I own?

No. Stickers are issued for a specific vehicle only. The type of vehicle determines the sticker category, and they are not transferrable. Once a sticker is on, it shouldn’t be removed, and in many cases, if this is attempted, it will void the sticker.

What happens if I sell my vehicle?

If you sell your vehicle, the sticker remains on the vehicle and the rights for it are transferred automatically with the transfer of ownership rights for the vehicle.

Can I buy a sticker in France?

No. Stickers should be bought online (either for a French-registered or foreign-registered) vehicle via the official government website.

Am I able to use the French crit air sticker in other countries?

No, the crit air is issued by the French government and is for driving in France only.

What do I do if I change my mind and want to go into a zone requiring a sticker and I don’t have one?

It’s still possible. There are many places available on the outskirts of ‘zone cities’ where you can park your vehicle and get public transport. For example, if you want to drive to Toulouse, you can use the park-and-ride facilities on the edge of the low-emission zone, in the car parks by Basso-Cambo, Borderouge and Argoulet metro stations and then catch the train into Toulouse. The park-and-ride facilities at Balma-Gramont and Ramonville stations are outside the low-emission zone.

How are the low-emission zones monitored?

At the moment, it’s all manually controlled by the police. However, it is widely understood that cameras will be in force later in 2024

Will there be more zones added?

Yes there will. Each year more zones may be added, or existing zones may be changed. Individual areas are also constantly updating the ‘year’ of vehicle that is no longer allowed at all in permanent low-emission zones.

What should I do if I have more questions?

If you can’t find the answer in this comprehensive guide to crit air stickers in France, you should consult the French government directly.

What if an official detour goes through a low-emission zone?

If you don’t have a sticker and are forced through a low-emission zone, you won’t find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

I’m only passing through a low-emission zone and not planning on staying. Do I still need a sticker?

Yes you would in this instance. The stickers are required for any vehicle entering a zone, whether it’s a drive-through or if you plan to park.

Travel planning in France

Phew! All of these zones can make your head spin. It’s too hard to keep on top of them all, new zones will continue to be added, and when emergency zones are included in the mix, it’s difficult to know what is going on if you are a visitor to France.

We recommend downloading the incredibly useful ‘Green Zones’ app. It is available on the Apple app store and Google Play.

The app takes you step-by-step through various screens, allowing you to choose your vehicle type, fuel and Crit’Air sticker type. Then you can select the country, the area and the municipality. Ultimately, you will get advice on what the conditions are for that area when using the app and whether your vehicle is permitted to drive there.

Your vehicle information is saved in the app, making it a quick process whenever you want to check out the latest information.

This website is also a useful resource.

green zone app

What if I am hiring a vehicle?

If you hire a car or a motorhome from within France, then it should have a Crit’Air sticker attached. However, it’s always best to check, just in case. If you can’t see one, ask the hiring company. If you are hiring from outside France, don’t assume a sticker is attached. Be sure to ask them when you book your vehicle if it is important to you to have one.

If the hiring company doesn’t have one, it’s not going to be easy for you to get one as you need the registration details of the vehicle and a permanent French address. Some hiring companies won’t have this either.

When we hired from Anywhere Campers, the crit air sticker was not included as the vehicles are registered in the Czech Republic. It just meant our itinerary stayed away from low-emission zones.

Thinking of hiring a motorhome in France? Read our comprehensive guide to all the questions you should ask before you hire or if you are looking for a one-way hire, check this guide out for the best company to use for your one-way motorhome hire in Europe.

What if I am leasing a vehicle?

Leasing a vehicle in France is easy enough; getting a crit air sticker for a leased vehicle is not.

At this stage, all leasing companies in France (and leasing agents in other countries) are not particularly helpful when assisting their clients who have booked a leased car.

I’ve also seen a lot of concern on online forums from travellers who have leased vehicles, terrified that they won’t be able to drive if they don’t have one. Hopefully, if you’ve started at the beginning of this guide, you’ll realise that having one to drive in France is not mandatory. It just depends on where you are going to drive. There are ways around not having one.

If you do want one, there are a few important things to know.

When applying online, as a French registered vehicle, you need the registration date and number to start the process. It is simply not possible to apply without having the carte grise (French registration document) in your possession.

This is where it gets difficult because requesting registration paperwork for a vehicle you don’t own is unlikely to result in any positive action from the registered owner (the final leasing company). You should, of course, ask the leasing company for this, but just don’t expect a positive response.

The other reason why this is difficult – even if they were ok with giving you that information – is that most leasing companies decide on the actual vehicle they will give a customer close to the starting date as it’s common for vehicles to be returned late, require maintenance etc.

So there are really three main options, two of which aren’t really helpful if you need a sticker.

  • Rethink your travel plans and see if you can negate the need to get one; find parking options outside the low-emission zones and use public transport to get into the city centre, or avoid the area altogether.
  • Insist as strongly as you can that it is the responsibility of the leasing company in France to provide this for you. It’s not easy to find someone who will currently.
  • Also insist as strongly as you can if they won’t do this for you, that you need to know the registration of your vehicle now (i.e.they must allocate a vehicle to you now) and ask them for a copy of the carte grise so you can apply yourself. This again will be difficult and they won’t be able to guarantee 100% that the vehicle they allocate will be available.

So, while it may appear there are options, they are difficult and limited, and your greatest chance of not having to worry about this is modifying your travel plans. Perfect – no – but it may save your sanity.

Summary

This little sticker sure creates a lot of questions online and plenty of confusion and sometimes frustration. It’s a dynamic set of circumstances constantly being changed, which will continue into the future. For us, it’s a simple solution to pay a low fee to get the peace of mind of having a sticker and knowing that we have to worry less about the zones. But, we also understand that this is not a one-sie-fits-all process, especially for those with older vehicles.

Hopefully, this guide can at least distil some of the initial confusion and remove some of the incorrect information that is often written on social media forums.

If you have any questions or comments about your experience, please let us know in the comments below. We monitor the questions, so if you write something here, we will respond to you as soon as possible.

Travelling to France? You might also like to read our road trip itineraries

South of France road trip: A two-week itinerary

Best France road trips: 10-day road trip itinerary in Burgundy France

Motorhome touring in France | 20-day itinerary through South-West France

Lot Valley France: Exploring one of France’s lesser-known regions in a motorhome

Other French guides to help you plan

Best things to do in Dijon France: Exploring Burgundy’s capital

The best things to do in Beaune France

14 of the best things to do in Narbonne France in 24 hours

Arcachon: An old-world seaside resort in the south-west of France

 

Book your flight: Flights are an important part of travel and we’re always looking for the best deals. If you can travel mid-week and be flexible, you’ll often find great deals on flights. We also use Skyscanner and Expedia for flight bookings. Dollar Flight Club is a great resource for getting special advance offers and even error fares directly to your inbox.

Book your accommodation: We all love to stay in different places, from the comfort of a self-contained apartment or house to a resort or luxury hotel. Sometimes we need something quick, easy and comfortable for an overnight stay. 

We use all of the following online booking portals depending on where we want to stay and the type of accommodation we are looking for.

  • VRBO and Stayz (in Australia) – great for holiday rentals of more than seven days and often have discounts for longer periods.
  • Booking.com and Expedia – two of our favourites due to their cancellation and refund policies.
  • Trip Advisor – perfect for getting reviews, checking availability and pricing comparisons all in one place.

Book your rental car or motorhome: We always use Discover Rental Cars anywhere in the world for car hire. Anywhere Campers is our preferred motorhome hiring company in Europe, especially if you want to be able to pickup and drop off at different locations (even countries) in Europe. If you’d like to buy your own motorhome in France, we use and recommend France Motorhome Sales. Use our code FMS1022 or tell John we sent you!

Book a tour:  We travel independently, but when we do book we book them with reputable companies who have a great cancellation and refund policy. If you are looking for advance tickets to an attraction, group or private tours, we use and recommend Get Your Guide and Viator. Both have a great range of tours and flexible cancellation policies. If you are looking to do a food tour in Europe, we also recommend Eating Europe Tours.

Be covered: We always travel with travel insurance. We did it before the pandemic and it’s even more important for us to do so now. We use Cover-More in Australia. SafetyWing has great rates for travellers who are away from home for extended periods. 

Be ready: Make sure you pack a few essentials: universal adaptorpower bank and noise-cancelling headphones

blue vintage car from rear in Paris - no fail beginners guide to crit air stickers

20 thoughts on “Crit’Air stickers:the complete guide to clean air stickers in France”

  1. Hi Kim, there’s still a lot of grey surrounding certain situations with regard to crit air stickers, and this is still one of them unfortunately. If you are a French resident, it’s reasonably straight-forward. If you are the hoder of a CMI (mobilioty card) or blue badge, then this in theory allows the driver to enter low emission zones but they are still required to have a crit air sticker. Your question has several issues; one that you are UK registered and two your vehicle is old. Even if your UK badges were permissable in France, your vehicle doesn’t fit the guidelines for receiving a crit air sticker. All of the literature on this issue currently talks about them ‘thinking’ about this situation, but there is no clear outcome. So, my advice would be that you won’t be successful getting an exemption at this stage, and that your best line of attack would be to understand very clearly where the zones are (remembering that there are only a few permanent ones that operate at certain times of the day or certain days), and to stay out of them.

  2. I have searched the internet for info about crit air and UK registered disabled vehicles, but cannot find an answer.
    We have a diesel campervan registered 31.05.1995 that is UK registered as a disabled vehicle. This means that it is exempt from the UK ULEZ charges.
    I want to know if the French government also have an exemption for disabled vehicles in the crit air zones.

  3. Hi Derek, to be 100% you should contact the relevant municipality that the autoroute passes through, but as a general rule, autoroutes that lead to other areas outside of the low emission zone are usually exempt.

  4. Is a sticker required if you are on a autoroute that passes through a clean zone;-eg Toulouse, Grenoble?

  5. Michelle Ortlipp

    We are leasing a Citroen C3 Aircross diesel vehicle, picking up next Saturday in Nantes. I’ve been provided with the registration number and date and have tried applying for a Critair sticker but I keep getting an message in red saying the registration number is invalid. We are unlikely to go anywhere that this sticker is required and can avoid zones if necessary but I am one of those “want to be prepared” people so I would prefer to get one. Perhaps it is best just to wait til we pick the car up and ask the agent in Nantes. We won’t be able to get the physical sticker as the car will be registered to us using our Australian address (I assume) but we could probably organise to get a print out of the email, if I can successfully order the sticker. It is a bit of an issue for Australians leasing vehicles and I wish the companies who organise the lease in Australia would inform and help their customers about this isse.

  6. Hi John, I’ve been looking into this a little lately as some of my readers are taking classics over to Le Mans. This is a little ‘grey’ at the moment. According to the French government, these types of cars (French owned and registered) are exempt if they are > 30 years old. General inspection by law enforcement would validate this along with vehicle registration.

    While there is talk about making all vehicles of this type exempt, there is currently no process in place to do so. There is talk of 2024, but who knows?

    There is no camera enforcement of the criteria air at the moment, although this is also expected in 2024.

    Of course, the criteria air sticker requirement is only such in the 11 permanent zones also, so it depends on the exact location of your visits.

    We’ve just done a huge road trip and never required it once. So, ther’s no specific answer to your question at this point in time.

  7. Hello, anyone know anything about “Classic Vehicles” over 30 yrs being exempt from all this Crit’Air malarky, as I can’t get 1 for my 1972 van. I’ve read on certain sites that they are exempt, but not on any official Gov sites. Any help would be appreciated.

  8. Andrew Hardcastle

    Having tried in vain for several days to get past the uploading of the V5C image, I read here that a pdf format works better than jpg and I can confirm that this is the case. All went smoothly from then on in, so thank you for the tip.

  9. Hi there, and my apologies for not responding sooner; I’m in France myself at the moment. Did you get any emails at all? If so, that will be more than enough to get you through. There are no cameras active now, so enforcement is only via police officers. If you were unlucky enough to be pulled over you would just need to explain to them. Also, you can show them your credit crad statement. Did you also check your junk inbox?

  10. Hi there
    I have a question regarding the sticker.
    I have applied for the stickers twice on Saturday I haven’t received it by email with invoice I paid by PayPal.
    and I am travelling on Monday Morning to central paris. and Monday is a Bank Holiday. so the air certificate issuing authority is closed on Saturday and Sunday plus Monday on Bank Holiday. what shall I do now?
    can I go because I already paid twice…
    any help is appreciated 🙏

  11. I had a crit’air sticker on my old car and will order for the new one, but I thought that you might be interested to know that for UK (Right Hand drive) vehicles you can out the sticker on the left hand side of the screen so it does not obstruct vision. I had the following email from contact@certificat-air.gouv.fr on 19 April 2017
    “Bonjour,
    Votre demande 17093150552011 a été envoyée par courrier le 06/04/17 à l’adresse que vous avez indiquée. Vous pouvez éventuellement placer le certificat qualité de l’air sur le côté gauche de votre pare-brise.
    Cordialement,
    Service de délivrance des Certificats Qualité de l’Air”
    I keep a copy with my car documents.
    I hope that this is helpful.

  12. HI Noel, sorry to hear that. I’ve been doing some research and there seems to be a bit of an issue going on at the moment. However, what I’ve been able to ascertain is the on 99% of the occasions where this issue happened,i.e. not being able to enter payment details and it erroring, the cause has been one of the following:

    *user is trying to buy via phone or ipad. There seems to be some compatiblity issues with Safari at present.
    *user has uploaded documents that exceed the allowed size
    *user has uploaded as jpg files.

    To solve, they used a desktop or laptop computer and used a browser other than Safari (gets around the first point). They checked to see their documents weren’t too large and lastly, they saved the files they uplaoded as pdfs, not jpgs and re-uploaded. On all occasions, they were able to then process their payment.

    Not sure if any of this fits your process – it’s hard for me to problem solve remotely – but it might be worthwhile re-visiting?

  13. Exactly the same as Robert James Smith above. Emailed the French Government link and was told to try again. Have done this but exactly the same result.
    It’s as if they want you to fall foul of the rules and pay fines.

  14. HI Robert, that’s a shame, but anything involving payments online can always be tricky to solve, especially for me remotely. I’ll make some inquiries and see what I can find out.

  15. Robert James Smith

    Thanks for all of the advice on the Crit’Air stickers. Which I have followed to the letter! However, in practice, no matter how many times I have tried, at the last-hurdle press payment stage on the official French Gov website, I am getting an error message which is telling me that my credit card is inadmissible. This is crazy, as at no stage of the process am I given the opportunity to register any credit card details. I even tried phoning the help line, but you can guess what happened!!
    Any technical advice would be gratefully received……

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