posted 10 months ago

UK Tourists Need Clean Air Certificate To Drive In French Cities

France tackles air pollution by banning the most polluting vehicles from its major cities, at certain times.

Air Quality Certificate explained

British tourists must purchase an Air Quality Certificate that confirms which emission standards their vehicles meet before entering: Paris, Lyon, and Grenoble in France. Authorities can, therefore, prevent the most polluting entering such regions at specific times of day or when the air quality is particularly poor.

Motorists and vehicles that require certification

An Air Quality Certificate – which is known locally as “Crit'Air vignette” - must be prominently displayed by tourists and locals; both able-bodied or disabled. There are no exceptions based on nationality, age or income. The French authorities further confirmed that it relates to “all road vehicles”. Examples include:

  • Cars
  • 2-wheeled vehicles
  • 3-wheeled vehicles
  • Quadricycles
  • Commercial vehicles
  • Heavy goods vehicles
  • Buses
  • Coaches

Agricultural and construction machinery is exempt, however. In contrast, old vehicles that fail to meet even basic emission standards will be refused certification. Such models cannot be taken into Paris Monday to Friday between 8am and 8pm, for example. 

What it looks like

A certificate is a small, circular, piece of paper reminiscent of an old-style tax disc. There are 6 categories/colours which indicate whether vehicles are among the least polluting on the road, among the most polluting, or in the middle. Green colouring, for example, is for the least polluting powered via (say) hydrogen.

How to purchase Air Quality Certificate

An Air Quality Certificate can be ordered online for €4.80. The price includes postage to The United Kingdom. It is important to purchase via the Government's website rather than a third party equivalent which often charge a higher fee. The procedure includes:

  • Visit https://www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/en
  • Click “applying for your certificate”
  • Click “vehicles registered abroad (European Union, Switzerland and Norway”
  • Click “add a vehicle”
  • Confirm its: registration number, date of registration, category, fuel type, certificate issuing country, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and its manufacturer, etc.

Furthermore, confirm the vehicle's Euro Emission Standard. The table below provides guidance.

StandardNew ApprovalsAll New Registrations
Euro 1July 1st 1992December 31st 1992
Euro 2January 1st 1996January 1st 1997
Euro 3January 1st 2000January 1st 2001
Euro 4January 1st 2005January 1st 2006
Euro 5September 1st 2009January 1st 2011
Euro 6September 1st 2014September 1st 2015

The application process also requests a digital copy of the V5C registration certificate to confirm compliance. Accepted formats are: jpg, png and pdf. The file cannot exceed 400kb. After verification, a certificate is sent through the post within 6 weeks.

Fine for non-compliance

Motorists that fail to purchase and display an Air Quality Certificate face an on-the-spot fine, of between €68 and €135.