Crit'Air, the little sticker that could save you from a £150 fine

UK bikers travelling to France this summer need to get a Crit'Air sticker to travel in certain regions, or risk a fine of up to £154

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British motorists looking to escape the weather over here are being reminded to check if they need a Crit’Air vignette when travelling through France. The Crit’Air system dates back to 2017, and its purpose is to restrict the access of high-polluting vehicles from the most critical areas - mostly high-population towns and cities.

The system applies to both cars and motorcycles, and different stickers are given to different emissions levels for a vehicle, while some vehicles don’t need a sticker at all.

How does the Crit'Air system work?

For example, a diesel passenger car with Euro1 certification or lower will not be granted a sticker, but the same is true for motorcycles with Euro5 certification or higher. Obviously, a Euro1 is deemed as a vehicle which pollutes too much to be in the areas France has targeted with its Crit’Air system, while the Euro5 motorcycles are on the opposite end of the scale. 

Of course, Euro5 is still a relatively new standard for motorcycles, and most people will be riding bikes between Euro3 and Euro4, in which case a yellow or purple, respectively, sticker is required. 

Electric and hydrogen vehicles - whether two- or four-wheeled - all qualify for the top-rated, green sticker, and therefore have access to preferential parking and traffic conditions. 

The cost of a Crit’Air vignette is actually quite low at £3.65 per vehicle including postage. In comparison, the fine for missing a Crit’Air sticker when you need one can be in excess of £150. That is set to change though, as once automatic ticketing comes in, the fines are reported to be increasing to over £600 next year.

Which French cities require a Crit’Air sticker

France currently has the scheme up and running in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Strasbourg, Rouen, Toulouse, Nice, Montpellier, Grenoble, and Reims. You can find a more detailed picture of the types of vehicles allowed in each of these cities, and also where the zone begins and ends, on the Explore France website.

If you are planning on travelling to or through France in the near future, you can apply for one on the official website of the Crit’Air vignette, here.

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