“Crit’Air” is the commercial name for the “Certificat qualité de l’air” (air quality certificate), implemented by the French Ministry for Ecology, which classifies vehicles according to their air pollutant emissions.
Visually, the Crit’Air certificate is a round, unforgeable and non-removeable sticker that is applied to the windshield of a vehicle in much the same way as a tax disc. The Crit’Air certificate comes in six colors representing the vehicle’s environmental criteria. The oldest vehicles, and therefore the most polluting, will be attributed a grey certificate with the number 5, while the most environmentally-friendly combustion-powered vehicles will receive a purple number 1 certificate. Electric cars, regardless of their age, are considered “clean” and therefore receive a green certificate with no number at all.
The Crit’Air certificate is used in large French urban conurbations in France where Low Emissions Zones (LEZs) are in place. These zones are sometimes called “zones à circulation restreinte” (restricted driving zones) when permanent (such as the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone in London), or “circulation différenciée” (alternate driving) when due to a spike in pollution levels. This limits access to certain zones to vehicles with a minimum Crit’Air air quality level (for example, access up to level 3, but levels 4 and 5 are prohibited.) Certain local authorities have also implemented advantages for less polluting vehicles (free parking etc.) while fines can reach up to 450 euros.
The Crit’Air certificate is obligatory for all vehicles driving around, or parked in, restricted or alternate driving zones, as well as certain LEZ (Low Emissions Zones). It is therefore obligatory for driving in cities such as Paris, Lyon, Lille and numerous other French conurbations. This applies to vehicles registered in both France and abroad, including those who benefit from exemptions to the imposed restrictions: emergency and medical vehicles, public transport, public service vehicles, vehicles with a handicap sticker, moving vans and supply trucks.
The French Ministry for Ecology has provided a tool on its website that, in just a few clicks, allows users to find out the Crit’Air certificate level that they need to display, whether electric or not. All you need is your vehicle’s European Emissions Standard, located on its registration certificate.
Your air quality certificate and its sticker can be ordered online directly from the Ministry website. The vehicle and its Crit’Air level are recorded definitively, and so do not need to be renewed. All vehicles registered since January 1997 are eligible.
The price of the Crit’Air certificate is the same for all vehicles. Its cost covers administrative, printing and postal fees, as well as the maintenance and development of the service. From March 1, 2018, its price has been 3.62 euros for metropolitan France (excluding shipping).
The Crit’Air stickers come in several different colors depending on the category to which the vehicle corresponds. This vehicle classification order is determined by the Ministry based on the vehicle’s European standard and the environmental criteria it adheres to. The color of the Crit’Air sticker therefore indicates, as we have seen above, whether the vehicle benefits from certain driving authorizations or restrictions.
The white sticker with a green circle is reserved for the most environmentally-friendly vehicles: electric and hydrogen-powered cars. They are not accredited a number as they are considered “clean” to use, whatever their age.
Attributed to vehicles that run on gas (LPG or NGV), plug-in hybrid cars and gasoline engines adhering to the EURO 5 and EURO 6 standards, registered since January 1, 2011.
For gasoline EURO 4 vehicles (from January 2006 to December 2010) and diesel EURO 5 and EURO 6 (from January 2011).
Awarded to gasoline EURO 2 and EURO 3 vehicles (from January 1997 to December 2005) and diesel EURO 4 vehicles (from January 2006 to December 2010).
For diesel EURO 3 vehicles (from January 2011 to December 2005).
For diesel EURO 2 vehicles (from January 1997 to December 2000).
In Paris and 56 of its surrounding municipalities located entirely or partly around the A86 (the highway feeding Paris’ “super bypass”,) exists France’s largest LEZ. Since 2019, vehicles with a grey level 5 Crit’Air sticker are banned, and well as (obviously) vehicles too old to even qualify for the certificate (registration before January 1, 1997.) These criteria will be progressively tightened in the years to come (Crit’Air 4 banned in 2021, Crit’Air 3 in 2022, Crit’Air 2 in 2024) with the objective of reaching 100% clean vehicles (with a green or purple sticker, so either an electric or hybrid car) on the Paris region’s roads by 2030. In the long term, this LEZ is set to grow to 79 municipalities as well as Paris.
The city itself (excluding the adjacent woods and the bypass) is even stricter — banning vehicles with the Crit’Air level 4 brown sticker and below.
Copyrights : Jonathan Stutz, Onidji, deimagine, Frithjof Ohm