The Crit’Air scheme, which was brought into force in January by the French authorities to tackle pollution, requires all vehicles – cars, lorries, motorbikes and buses – to display a windscreen sticker, or vignette, according to how much they pollute.
Stickers, which cost £3.60 (€4.18) each including postage, come in six categories and cover the very cleanest electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles (Crit’Air green sticker) to the dirtiest (Crit’Air 5 grey sticker). These relate to the six European Union emission standards for cars – dating back to 1992 when Euro 1 was introduced. The penalty for failure to display a sticker is an on-the-spot fine of between €68-135 (£58 to £117).
In order to test the efficiency of the system the RAC ordered a vignette from the official Crit’Air website –www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/ – on 6 February and it arrived six weeks later on 16 March, despite the letter being dated 2 March. The website states that stickers should be delivered within 30 days.
To apply for a sticker online drivers must know their vehicle’s European Emissions Standard. Information on working this out can be found on the RAC’s website. For newer vehicles, covered by Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards, the category may be in section D2 of your DVLA V5C registered keeper form. For older vehicles, motorists will need to find out when their vehicle was manufactured and check it with the emissions bands on the above webpage.
The new Crit’Air system is used on high pollution days to prevent the worst polluting vehicles from driving in the affected cities. In the future, however, vehicles may be banned from driving in Crit’Air areas on certain days based on which emissions sticker they have.
In addition, some vehicles have not been assigned a category and are therefore unable to drive in Paris between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday. Typically, these are older models, such as cars registered before 1997, motorbikes and scooters from before June 2000, and trucks and buses from before 2001. Based on the pre-1997 criteria, the RAC understands that one in 10 (9%) French vehicles are too old to get a sticker.