On July 1, 2017, law enforcement agencies can report or even immobilize a vehicle in France that does not have its sticker

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More than 250 European towns and cities have already implemented measures to restrict access to their centers, using various procedures. This is an update on these measures, since France has just implemented CRIT’Air, a mandatory sticker, subject to a fine for non-display, which distinguishes vehicles according to their pollution level. Who is affected? What steps should be taken by a fleet manager? Here are the answers to the questions asked.

Anti-pollution stickers: what are the obligations for transporters?

Fleet managers, be aware! Wherever they are registered, your trucks must now display a sticker in certain areas of France. Subject to a fine or even immobilization of the vehicle! Here is an update on this scheme as well as comparable schemes in Europe.

Measures in France


> What is CRIT’Air?

CRIT’Air is an “air quality certificate”. In practice, it is a round disc that is attached to the vehicle. Its color differs according to the vehicle’s class in terms of anti-pollution standards. With regard to trucks, this sticker may be:

  • Green (CRIT’Air 0) for a “clean” vehicle, powered by electricity or hydrogen.
  • Purple (CRIT’Air 1) for a rechargeable hybrid vehicle, a gas vehicle or a Euro 6 vehicle registered from January 1, 2014.
  • Yellow (CRIT’Air 2) for a Euro 5 vehicle registered between October 1, 2009 and 31 December, 2013 or a Euro 6 vehicle registered from January 1, 2014.
  • Orange (CRIT’Air 3) for Euro 3 and 4 vehicles registered between October 1, 2001 and 30 September, 2009 or a Euro 5 vehicle registered between October 1, 2009 and 31 December, 2013.
  • Dark red (CRIT’Air 4) for a Euro 4 vehicle registered between October 1, 2006 and 30 September, 2009.
  • Grey (CRIT’Air 5) for a Euro 3 vehicle registered between October 1, 2001 and 30 September, 2006.

Note: agricultural and worksite machinery is not affected by this sticker.

Les différentes catégories du certificat sur la qualité de l’air pour les poids lourds, autobus et autocars en France (source : www.certificat-air.gouv.fr).

The various categories of air quality certificate for trucks, buses and coaches (source: www.certificat-air.gouv.fr).

> Other classification tables (utility vehicles, two-wheeled vehicles, private cars).

> Who is affected?

All vehicles, including French and foreign trucks, are affected when they intend to travel in certain French towns and cities (including Paris, Lyon and Grenoble) and their conurbations from Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm. It is now mandatory to display such a sticker. This had already been the case for several months but a major change occurred on July 1, 2017: although they were prepared just to educate drivers up until then, police forces can now immobilize a vehicle that is travelling without a sticker and issue a ticket.

The sticker costs €4.18 for companies with fewer than 50 vehicles who order them in France, plus overseas postal charges. For companies with more than 50 vehicles, you can request a quote to obtain a group price. Note that only the official site is authorized to issue them.

>What is it for?

This sticker is now essential for travelling in “restricted traffic areas” (ZCR). Up until now, in the case of peak pollution, vehicles could travel based on the last number of their registration plate – even or odd. This is what is known as alternate traffic circulation. This time, it is the color of their sticker that will determine whether or not they can travel. This is what is known as differentiated circulation.

This measure has already been deployed in Paris twice: from January 23-25, 2017 and on June 22, 2017. In the second case it was in force from 5:30am until midnight. Only class 0 to 3 vehicles could travel. Note, however, that this does not mean that alternate circulation is disappearing. In Lyon, for example, on January 24, 2017, it was added along with differentiated circulation. Outcome: even-numbered vehicles could all travel but only class 0 to 3 odd-numbered vehicles were authorized.

CRIT’Air sticker control operation by the French department for public order and circulation (Direction de l'ordre public et de la circulation - DOPC) - credit: MaxPPP.

CRIT’Air sticker control operation by the French department for public order and circulation (Direction de l’ordre public et de la circulation – DOPC) – credit: MaxPPP.

> What are the penalties for non-compliance?

If a driver chooses to bypass the ban and travel on a day when they are not authorized to do so, they incur a fine of €135 (£118.368, reduced to €90 – £78.944) for trucks. For light trucks weighing less than 3.5 tonnes, the penalty fine is €68 (£59.667, reduced to €45 – £39.485).

Note that, for foreign truck drivers, the fine can be demanded in any other EU country. By not paying the fine the driver is theoretically liable to a prison sentence in accordance with European Directive EU 2011/82 of October 25, 2011 “facilitating the cross-border exchange of information on road safety related traffic offences”. 


What about elsewhere in Europe?

Atmospheric pollution is a major concern for Europe: it is the cause of the premature death of nearly 500,000 people every year, according to the European Environment Agency. More than 250 European towns and cities and their conurbations restrict access to certain areas, including London, Paris and some German cities. The way in which access is restricted and its scope vary in each case.

KEY INFO255 metropolitan areas in Europe have implemented a traffic restriction or regulation system

It may involve an urban congestion charge, as in London where, since 2003, the city center can only be accessed during the day by paying £11.50 (€13.10). The effectiveness of the system in terms of the fight against pollution in no way convinces the experts. Gothenburg, Dublin, Stockholm and Milan have done the same, managing to reduce traffic by an average of 15% to 20%, according to French daily newspaper Le Monde.

Berlin has opted for a mandatory sticker since 2010; the most polluting vehicles may not enter the city center. Bremen, Leipzig, Frankfurt, Munich and Ulm, in particular, have followed this example, to the point where 55 areas in Germany are now affected.

In Lisbon, the very center of the city is banned during the week to vehicles manufactured before 2000. In its conurbation, it is vehicles produced before 1996 that are banned. In Brussels, alternate circulation has been selected in the case of pollution peaks. By contrast, it has been permanent in Athens since 1982 – except in July and August – and specifically affects trucks weighing more than 2.2 tonnes.

Lastly, we should mention Oslo’s original initiative, which uses a carrot and stick approach: in the Norwegian capital, there is clearly an urban congestion charge but also, and above all, major electric vehicle incentives, with the option of using bus lanes, enjoying free parking and exemption from payment of this charge, etc. Whether or not as a result, 20% of new vehicle registrations in 2015 were for electric vehicles.

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